When Ron Hextall played goaltender in the NHL, he was the king of aggressiveness. He ruled his crease with an enviable blend of fire and passion. He owned a volcanic temper and a molten competitiveness. He was driven to be the best at his position.
His style as an NHL general manager has been far different. He has been less impulsive, more calculating. He has favored long-term planning to quick fixes.
The Flyers may have wanted him to be the Hextall of old to deal with the current struggles, and his unwillingness to do that probably cost him his job.
When a team starts poorly, the coach is usually the first to go. But Hextall hasn’t fired his coach or made a bold trade, and the Flyers decided he was the one who should go.
“It has become clear that we no longer share the same philosophical approach concerning the direction of the team,” Flyers President Paul Holmgren said. “In light of these differences, we feel it's in the organization's best interests to make a change, effective immediately. I have already begun a process to identify and select our next general manager, which we hope to complete as soon as possible."
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That’s sports-speak for the organization didn't appreciate Hextall's low-key approach. We can conclude the Philadelphia brass expected Hextall to light a fire under an under-achieving team. He didn't seem to have a match.
The Flyers were expected to be among the Metropolitan’s best teams. Instead, they are 10-11-2 with a -13 goal-differential. Their 3.57 goals-against average ranks 29th out of 31 NHL teams.
Hextall has been Philadelphia’s GM since May 7, 2014, and his most significant failing was an inability to correct a goaltending problem that has plagued the organization for years. The Flyers haven’t had a long-term goaltending solution since he was traded in 1992.
This season he opted to stay with Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth, both coming off injuries, and the Flyers have the NHL’s lowest save percentage (.880). Now both goalies are hurt.
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