Philadelphia Flyers: Final thoughts regarding Ron Hextall’s departure

DALLAS, TX - JUNE 23: Ron Hextall attends the 2018 NHL Draft at American Airlines Center on June 23, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - JUNE 23: Ron Hextall attends the 2018 NHL Draft at American Airlines Center on June 23, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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Philadelphia Flyers
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Was Hextall a control freak?

If all or even parts of what Anthony Sanfilippo reported in his Crossing Broad piece are true regarding Hextall’s reign as general manager, then his firing would appear to be even more justified from an organizational standpoint. Sanfilippo reported, citing sources from within the organization that would remain anonymous, that Hextall was quite the control freak behind the scenes.

The article goes on to describe the lengths that Hextall went to control the locker room, including the team’s diet and access to outside influences. Hextall himself addressed this to an extent, saying he felt it important to bring in a dietician to provide the players with better food options.

But people within the organization say it went further than that, and that Hextall would publicly berate players for eating poorly after games, and even attempting to control what players ate away from the ice. Regarding the locker room, Hextall noted that he didn’t want to be running a “country club” with the Flyers, thus limiting access to alumni and friends of players.

Then there was the feeling that Hextall had done everything he could to shut out upper management, including Holmgren and Scott, while keeping his circle of trust very small. If true, Hextall certainly did himself no favors there, especially with Holmgren, who essentially conceded his job so that the franchise could move in a new direction with Hextall at the helm.

There was even talk that Gord Murphy, the recently fired defensive coach, was Hextall’s eyes and ears in the locker room, providing the general manager with a direct line to what was going on with the players and coaches. This lends credibility to the belief that Murphy was fired so as to continue the cleansing of any remaining Hextall influence in the building. It’s certainly an interesting storyline.

These reports are most interesting because of how little the fan base, and even the media, seemed to know about how Hextall ran the team. It calls into question just who was the person truly responsible for the odd roster decisions that were mostly attributed to Hakstol. What was most interesting about the story was the feeling around the building that Hextall was so overprotective of his head coach that he became something of a micro-manager, having to control every aspect of every decision that was being made.

It is important, however, to remember that there are always two sides to a story, and what was being told to Sanfilippo was most from people inside the organization and not from Hextall himself. And so it was very telling that Hextall chose to speak to media after his firing, indicating that he felt he needed to control some of the narrative that was being written about him.

It was an odd situation, one that certainly feels like there are two sides playing tug of war in an effort to come out looking like the good guy.

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We may never truly know what life was like under Hextall the general manager, but the organization obviously felt that it needed to change the culture that had been established under the former goaltender.