How Much of Fletcher’s Failures is Hextall’s Fault?

MONTREAL, QUEBEC - JULY 08: Ron Hextall of the Pittsburgh Penguins attends the 2022 NHL Draft at the Bell Centre on July 08, 2022 in Montreal, Quebec. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
MONTREAL, QUEBEC - JULY 08: Ron Hextall of the Pittsburgh Penguins attends the 2022 NHL Draft at the Bell Centre on July 08, 2022 in Montreal, Quebec. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit
Prev
4 of 4
Next
Jimmy Watson (left), Ron Hextall and president Paul Holmgren, Philadelphia Flyers (Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports)
Jimmy Watson (left), Ron Hextall and president Paul Holmgren, Philadelphia Flyers (Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports) /

Hextall tied his fortunes to Hakstol. When that blew up in his face, he was gone. He, like Holmgren before him, tied the fortunes of the team to signing some of the stars to long term contracts. But by giving them big and bloated contracts, it would hamper the teams for years to come; the effects of that we are still dealing with five years later.

The drafts, while starting off well, became disastrous. Patrick was always injured. O’Brien never got better. Frost is struggling and Farabee is regressing. Sanheim and Provy, while good, aren’t great. Only Konency has really paid off. The rest of the picks, the picks you count on for depth, have not been reliable.

Yes, Fletcher has been epically bad for this team. In Hextall’s four full years as general manager, the team made the playoffs twice, only to be bounced out in the first round. Since then, the team has only been to the playoffs during the Covid Bubble.

Fletcher has been a terrible general manager. I would argue that he was the worst in this team’s history. However, it hasn’t been all his fault. Many of the contracts signed by Hextall, with a few from Holmgren’s tenure, hampered what this team could do in acquiring players. To be fair, Fletcher did continue this by offering huge deals to players like Ramsus Ristolainen. But it does say something that the last “big” free agent signing by the Flyers, before JVR was Radko Gudas. Yikes. Every year we hoped to see a piece that would be added to the team that would put us over the edge. Every year, we were disappointed. Every year became “next year” as in “Next year will be our year.”

It’s going to take years to undo all the damage that has been done to this franchise over the last 10 years. It will be hard to attract a big name free agent when the team has no money. It will be hard to improve when the minor league system is devoid of many good prospects in the pipeline. We are headed for some dark times ahead. But getting rid of Fletcher is the first part of fixing this. Let’s hope Briere is up to the task.