Report: Flyers GM Ron Hextall Sticking with Craig Berube


Craig Berube’s job is safe for now. According to a report from CSN Philly’s Tim Panaccio, first-year GM Ron Hextall has no intentions of giving the Flyers their third coach in two seasons. While discussing his coach’s security, the first-year GM acknowledged his frustration in the team’s 8-13-4 performance, which includes the NHL’s worst road record of 2-9-2. But despite Hextall sticking with his guy, will he be singing a different tune at the end of the season?

It’s easy to sympathize for Berube. The former enforcer doesn’t have the components that the more successful coaches in the league have at their disposal. The Flyers still lack that puck possessing defenseman they’ve long been looking for since Chris Pronger’s retirement, and their strapped cap space keeps them slower than their opponents on a nightly basis.

After resuscitating last season’s 1-7-0 start, Berube’s march to the playoffs says that he is, in fact, the victim of uncontrollable circumstances. After all, the loss of Kimmo Timonen for the season – and possibly forever – hasn’t made an already thin blue line any better. And despite sending out two of the NHL’s brightest stars to the ice in Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek, Berube’s squad lacks the type of depth to legitimately roll four lines deep.

But for all the reasons that figure in Berube’s favor, there’s another side that objects. There’s no one who will disagree with Berube’s enforcement of accountability, even in the form of scratching big money players. But when this sea of scratches involve players who have largely contributed to all eight of the team’s wins, it gives the appearance that Berube is kicking back in a chair and tossing darts at a board.

Craig Berube knows his team far better than I do – or at least he should. And while the decision to sit Vinny Lecavalier has been met with approval, the same cannot be said for the recent benchings of Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Michael Del Zotto, and Luke Schenn.

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These impact players were given a ticket to the press box, while Braydon Coburn has appeared in all 13 games he’s been healthy. Saturday’s meeting with the Los Angeles Kings will be Coburn’s 14th game, while Luke Schenn will visit the press box once again.

What’s the big deal, you ask?

With Luke Schenn, the Flyers are 8-8-4. That means the team is 0-5-0 without his services. Is that a coincidence? Don’t bet on it.

With Coburn, the Flyers are 2-9-2. And even though Andrew MacDonald took a turn on the healthy scratch list, the Flyers haven’t fared much better with him either. In fact, they’re 3-7-4.

The biggest winners in the past absences of Coburn and Lecavalier (both due to injury) have been Del Zotto and Bellemare. But with Coburn back, Del Zotto’s ice time and production has dipped by six points and a minus-five rating. That’s when he’s dressed, of course.

Lecavalier’s brief return knocked Bellemare back to the fourth line, where he’s remained, even with Lecavalier removed from the lineup. Scott Laughton has since surpassed Bellemare in ice time and role. But the common denominator remains: Philadelphia’s talent and growth has been stunted by their sluggish cap monsters and a coach that’s facilitated that.

Craig Bergube’s job may be safe for now. But if this type of mismanagement continues, that is likely to change come April.