When I think of Ron Hextall, I picture opening up his brain, trying to get answers. The primal questions of a fan to a general manager:
What are you thinking? How are you feeling? What have we done to each other? What will we do?
Did that sound familiar? The lines above are (nearly) direct quotes from the film “Gone Girl,” but they feel applicable.
The parallels between the Flyers & Gillian Flynn’s thrilling novel are similar. Two parties meet. One believes the other is perfect. After a few years, the flaws begin to unravel what was once a happy union. By year five, both sides are at odds with each other.
More than four years ago, Hextall took the helm as the Flyers general manager. He preached patience and building the right way. This plan would be done through stockpiling draft picks & assets. It would be done by ditching bad contracts. It would end with the Flyers becoming perennial Stanley Cup contenders again under Ron Hextall.
A man with a plan. What a breath of fresh air.
Two of the aforementioned came true. Hextall did restock a pipeline that, at the time of his hiring, was headlined by Scott Laughton. He shredded the burdensome contracts of Vincent Lecavalier and Chris Pronger. The four previous years of mediocre and frustrating hockey were bearable because Hextall promised a brighter future. And the fans were patient.
Until this year – when the fans’ and the organization’s patience ran out. Five years into Hextall’s plan, the Flyers cut the cord.
I won’t regurgitate what is already on social media, but here’s the recap.
- Hextall had a well-intentioned plan, but his failure to move the needle forward was his downfall.
- If he had addressed the goalie situation or fired Ian Laperriere, he may have bought himself some more time, but his refusal/outright stubbornness/philosophical differences brought the axe down.
- In a year where the Flyers were expected to take a step toward being a contender, they remained stagnant. In a results-oriented business, that’s a one-way ticket out the door.
Now, the fans and organization shift their focus to the future. A new coach and GM are on their way. Who they are will be revealed in time, but one thing is certain to change. Either the Flyers will take the necessary steps to become an elite team or the organization will go scorched Earth and restart from scratch.
The only thing left to do now is speculate and throw these questions toward the orange and black:
“What are you thinking? How are you feeling? What have we done to each other? What will we do?”