In July of 2013 Ron Hextall was hired by the Philadelphia Flyers as the Assistant General Manager and director of hockey operations. The late Ed Snider was thrilled about bringing back one of his own to watch over the franchise. In May, 2014 he was installed as the General Manager, something that was inevitable.
From the moment Hextall got to town I saw he was changing the scouting system for the team. When rookie camp came around I saw major changes occurring in regard to testing and how the camp operated the last few years. He made it better.
The drafting has been solid under his watch. He doesn’t make the selections, the scouts do, but he made sure he had some fresh eyes in the organization.
Hextall had to get through some horrific cap situations and halfway through this year he has almost fully corrected that problem. This was something that some media pundits were questioning on the radio last season when the Flyers missed the playoffs. Hextall never preached it will be painful like the Toronto Maple Leafs, instead followed a model that he learned while fitting his finger for a championship ring in Los Angeles with the Kings.
“I think the defensive stick is something that people don’t talk about enough. It’s huge. It’s huge. It’s so hard to score goals. You can’t give up easy goals, whether it’s your goaltender or your defense. You’ve got to close on players. So you’ve got to have good feet, you’ve got to have big bodies and again, hockey sense is a huge part of the game. The average fan doesn’t necessarily see it, but I really like smart players, competitive players, obviously fast players,” Hextall stated back in 2014.
Just a few days ago Hextall signed yet another goaltender. He now has 5 solid goaltending prospects. The latest was Alex Lyon, somebody who I had scouted. He was terrific for Yale for 3 seasons and he will be in Lehigh Valley next year.
“We like Alex. He’s a good young goalie. He’s talented. He’s very composed and has good hockey sense,” said Hextall. “Quite frankly you can never have enough goalies. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like having five around but I lost count. I’m starting to use my second hand now.”
That’s a good problem to have. Something that hasn’t happened since I’ve been covering the team. They have one of the 5 best prospect pools in the game. They made the playoffs. They haven’t mortgaged the future. They have cap space and they have traceable assets heading into the draft. Hextall is a cerebral GM. In today’s world that’s exactly what you need to have.
Snider knew what he was doing when they brought back Hextall. That move could see the Flyers win the Stanley Cup in the near future. They aren’t 3-4 years away from that now. They are closer than that.