Caught deep in the throes of a disaster season, Flyers fans have certainly become rowdy on social media, pointing the blame at everyone from the ownership to the coaches to the players. And as the once highly touted young core has failed to develop, and the once stocked prospect pool has dried up, former general manager Ron Hextall has drawn much of the fanbases’ ire.
Hextall has been in the doghouse for a while now, but Tuesday, Flyers legend Bobby Clarke sounded off on the former GM and the things he had to say were less than good.
Clarke accused Hextall of making the Brayden Schenn trade without informing other members of the front office. He accused Hextall of overvaluing his assets when the team had the opportunity to acquire Ryan O’Reilly from the Sabres back in 2018. And most noteworthy of all, Clarke accused Hextall of regularly shaking off the evaluations of his scouts, most notably in the drafting of Nolan Patrick instead of Cale Makar and/or Miro Heiskanen.
“He alienated everybody right away. He shut his door, he locked the doors. He was the boss so nobody else was part of it. We get the second pick in the draft and we end up drafting Nolan Patrick. None of our scouts wanted Nolan Patrick.
One thing needs to be said before looking into these claims: it’s really easy to say that one would draft Makar instead of Patrick now that the picture is clear on who each player is. That’s not to say Clarke is lying, but stretching the truth a bit is easy when it’s become clear in hindsight who the better players are.
Now, taking the accusations at face value, the Brayden Schenn trade is one that confused many at the time, and still does to this day. The team should have been looking to add in order to make a run, but instead traded away a talented young forward for two picks that would take time to develop.
Morgan Frost and Joel Farabee, the forwards taken with the picks they received, have shown a lot of promise, and may end up better than Schenn when all is said and done, but it’s the timing of the trade that raises alarm bells. Prospects take time to develop, and for a team that was looking to win sooner than later, Hextall prioritized “stocking the cupboard” over putting together a winner, something that similarly affected a potential O’Reilly trade.
Hextall’s biggest sin came on draft day. Hextall routinely ignored his scouts for a number of years that led to making a number of picks that look questionable at best and downright horrible at worst. The decision to take Nolan Patrick at second overall is something that has rightly drawn a lot of criticism, especially given the talent that the draft would go to produce.
The pick alone is bad enough. However when it comes out that your scouting team has openly stated they do not want you to select a player and to instead pick someone else, and you outright refuse, it goes from a bad call to unforgivable.
Clarke has opened a real can of worms regarding Hextall’s tenure as GM, and if everything he says is true, Hextall had a major hand in setting the Flyers back for years, in a way they’re still feeling now.