Hextall Not Satisfied with 1st-Round Exit, But Stands by ‘Process’
The fruits of one process are still paying off inside Wells Fargo Center. On the same night that the Flyers would have played in a decisive Game 7, the Sixers advanced in the NBA Playoffs.
Obviously, the Sixers process was a high-profile reality show of sorts that was on a national stage. The Flyers own rebuilding process isn’t groundbreaking by any means. It’s just unfamiliar to the fans who have faithfully followed the Orange and Black since their inception over 50 years ago.
In an offseason where the Flyers are coming off another year without advancing in the playoffs, there is the sense that after six years of being defined by being a one-and-done team or not making the postseason altogether, the Flyers has become indifferent to the results. GM Ron Hextall spoke to the media on Thursday and focused on the continuation of the Flyers process to becoming a contender.
“We’re not going to change what we set out to do four years ago,” Hextall said. “We put a plan in place and to go sideways now would be the wrong thing to do. Doing that would not be setting us up for success. We want to be successful. Successful is not making the playoffs or winning one round or winning two rounds.
“Four years ago, I sat here and said our vision is to build a top contending team to win the Stanley Cup. Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen overnight. And if someone thinks that we’re going to add three or four players this summer that are going to make us the top team in the league, I don’t know where we’re going to get those players from, nor the cap space, nor anything else. This is a bit of a slow process.”
Slow process...probably not what the fans want to hear.
Hextall did start to show signs that the team is going to move on from some players to try to improve and push the process forward. Hextall essentially confirmed that all unrestricted free agents would not be returning. That means the departure of Matt Read, Johnny Oduya, Brandon Manning and Valtteri Filppula...maybe.
Of the Flyers pending free agents, Hextall would not close the door on Filppula’s return, but said that was a decision that would not be made before July, meaning the Flyers will explore other options and Filppula will enter the market.
The process Hextall is talking about, more or less, is the development of players at all levels. It is his way of reminding everyone that players like Shayne Gostisbehere, Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny may be veterans of the team, but don’t have a lot of experience yet either.
It may be a slow process, but Hextall didn’t look at the results from this season with satisfaction for making the playoffs. Besides the early exit, Hextall looked back at the 10-game losing streak in November and the overall lack of consistency the team showed game-to-game, period-to-period, even minute-to-minute.
“We lost out in the first round this year. That’s not good enough,” Hextall said. “We’re the Philadelphia Flyers and we take pride in being a franchise that winning is the only thing. That hasn’t changed. We had to be patient the last couple years, yes, and in a cap world you can’t make rash decisions that have long-term ramifications that hurt you to try to fix something short term. I have to be level-headed. I can’t react like I use to on the ice. It is a process here.
“A lot of things this year I liked. I liked our group sticking together when we went through the 10-game losing streak. We didn’t play that poorly, but we can’t have a 10-game losing streak. We can’t allow that to happen. We have to be better than that. Mentally as a group, we have to get stronger. Our performance on a minute-to-minute basis and a period-to-period basis has to get more consistent. So there’s thing we all have to improve on and that includes myself, the coaches and the players.”
It’s a critical offseason for Hextall, especially as more spots open up on the current roster, cap space opens up as a result and there are more draft picks to utilize, including potentially two in the first round.
For now, the process moves into the depths of the offseason, the wait between the end of a playoff run and the end of the postseason, when the real action can begin.
So the Flyers will wait and continue to evaluate everything as their own process continues.
Kevin Durso is Flyers editor for SportsTalkPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.