After starting the 2018-19 season with an abysmal 10-11-2 record, the Philadelphia Flyers management had seen enough. But the change didn’t come where most had expected. Instead, the Flyers dismissed Ron Hextall from his duties as President and General Manager along with Assistant GM Chris Pryor and Assistant Coach Gord Murphy. The search for a new GM began, the turnaround was expedited, and Chuck Fletcher was hired as the ninth General Manager of the franchise on December 3rd, 2018. Along with Fletcher, Rick Wilson was hired as Assistant Coach and most recently Brent Flahr was named Vice President and Assistant General Manager. With a major shake-up at the top level, the hope was from management and fans alike was that the on-ice product would show some sort of improvement.
The improvement has yet to come. The Flyers have gone 2-3-2 since the November 26th firing of Ron Hextall, which is far from something to get excited about. Not only has the record been less than impressive, but how the team has managed to lose games has been the more concerning factor. From allowing three even-strength goals in the final 10 minutes and losing in regulation to the Ottawa Senators, to allowing two goals in the final 68 seconds and losing in overtime to the Calgary Flames, the Flyers have managed to lose games that they had complete control over. Not only do the Flyers continually reminded us that no lead is safe, but they are also still managing to be late to the party when starting games and have allowed the first goal in 20 out of 30 games this season.
Goaltending is also still an issue in Philadelphia, as the Flyers are still without Brian Elliott due to injury rehab and Michal Neuvirth who is away for the birth of his daughter. Which leaves Anthony Stolarz and Alex Lyon to man the net for the orange and black. It’s been a less than enthusiastic performance from either goalie, despite Stolarz showing some hopeful upside. Not all of the misery can be blamed on the goaltending, however, as the defense continues to be horrid more nights than not. Breakdowns, turnovers and missed assignments are the sentiments echoed by broadcasters and sports analysts alike this season when speaking of the Philadelphia Flyers defensive system. New assistant coach Rick Wilson has his work cut out for him if the Flyers hope to turn this season around anytime soon.
Chuck Fletcher made it clear that he would take some time to evaluate things before making any major moves, however poor performance, an empty arena and a declining financial bottom line may force the GM’s hand sooner rather than later. Whether it be a coaching change or a trade to bring some veteran faces to the City of Brotherly Love, you can be sure that Fletcher is exploring his options.
Featured image courtesy of Sports Illustrated
Daniel is an avid Philadelphia Flyers fan from South Central Pennsylvania. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org