PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — December 4th, 2017 — the Flyers had lost 10 games in a row and the fans were calling for the firing of head coach Dave Hakstol.
But general manager Ron Hextall didn’t blink. He never lost faith in his team, his coach, nor what he was building and addressed the media publicly.
“Dave Hakstol is our coach and he will remain our coach,” Hextall said on December 4th. “Period. I’ve said it over and over, and I’m not going to say it again. I think he’s done a good job. We’re in a rut. They happen throughout a year. You can’t value and judge your team on 10 games or 15 games or 20 games. It’s a long season and you’re going to have your ups and downs.”
Fast forward to February 27th, 2018 — the Flyers are 10-0-1 in their last 11 games and now sit alone in first place in the Metropolitan Division with 78 points.
If no one else will say it, I will: Hextall deserves a ton of credit.
Despite the recent surge, some fans were still annoyed with Hextall on Monday after the trade deadline passed and no deals were made. But Hextall wasn’t about to mortgage any of the team’s future for a piece. His goal is to build a consistent championship contender.
After their 1-0 shootout win on Monday, the Flyers are currently 34-19-10 with 19 games to play, and currently amid a six game winning streak. All of this comes despite losing both of their goalies in Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth to injury and their top power play goal scorer in Wayne Simmonds.
With both goalies out, Hextall acquired 26-year-old Petr Mrazek on February 18th, who is 3-0 since joining the team with a 1.30 goals against average.
As for the coach, well, he continues to push all the right buttons. Captain Claude Giroux is tied for third in the NHL in points with 74. Jakub Voracek leads the NHL in assists with 56. 19-year-old rookie Nolan Patrick has four goals in his last five games, playing alongside Giroux.
Veteran Sean Couturier (29G, 32A, +27) is having a career-year. Second year studs Ivan Provorov (11G, 18A, +12) and Travis Konecny (15G, 19A, +14) are having excellent seasons, while third year defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere (10G, 40A, +15) is having a bounce back year of his own.
Everything is working for the Flyers. Good thing Hextall didn’t push the panic button.