Hextall: ‘I Still Believe We’re a Playoff Team’
After the Flyers ninth straight loss put the finishing touch on a month where they posted a 2-5-7 record, GM Ron Hextall spoke about his team in the Flyers locker room. And he essentially doubled down on the team's potential.
"I still believe we're a playoff team," Hextall said.
That's a mighty bold statement from the lead builder of a team that just lost their ninth straight game with the worst effort displayed in a month's time.
But Hextall chose to focus more on the games leading up to this one, the games the Flyers were in position to win and didn't.
"Have you seen our games?" Hextall asked. "If we were playing poorly I would be the first to say we were playing poorly. We are not playing poorly. To look objectively at our team right now, and say, ‘Are we playing poorly?’ No. Are we shooting ourselves in the foot at times? Yes we are. Critical mistakes at critical times? Yes. It’s kind of what happens when the snowball starts to go the wrong way and you start doing things that are unpredictable.
"If you took the score away from the last nine games I’ve seen and told me we’re 0-9, I’d be like ‘come on.’ The point is we have to find ways to win. Nobody is looking for excuses around here. We are gonna battle though this. If we thought we were a really poor team, that’s totally different."
That said, the results haven't been there, and Hextall isn't ignoring that either.
"Losing nine games in a row is unacceptable," Hextall said. "Let’s be real. It’s not acceptable for many franchises and certainly not ours. In saying that, as a manager I gotta be realistic with how our team’s playing. Let’s say the last nine games we were .500, 5-4, somewhere in there. It’s not great, but it’s not bad. It’s what we deserve. Now again, we shot ourselves in the foot. But as a whole we’ve certainly played better than our record."
It's hard to look at Hextall's answers and take it seriously. But in reality, what is he supposed to say? The team is already frustrated. Fans are calling for the coach to be fired, the coach Hextall hired to be the one to bring this team along, especially with so much youth in the lineup, and develop into a contender. It's still early in that process, so just because things have come to a head doesn't mean Hextall's going to do anything drastic.
In other words, at this moment, nothing is going to change regarding personnel. It's up to the 20 players in the lineup, Hakstol and the coaching staff and Hextall to do the little things in their respective roles to get this team out of the worst losing streak the franchise has seen in nearly a decade.
"We need to be better at some critical moments, but part of it we need to continue to do what we’re doing," Hextall said. "We’re doing a lot of good things. Again, tonight I don’t think was our best game. We’re feeling some fatigue. Probably a little bit of frustration.
"That falls on all of us. We’re all in this together. Nobody’s jumping off any ship here. We’re in it together. Right now it’s hard to find a positive. I think one of the impressive things is this group hasn’t started pointing fingers at each other. That’s a sign of strong character. It’s a sign that we’re going to come out of this.
"It’s not easy, you’ve been in a locker room when you’ve lost seven, eight, nine games in a row, and it’s ugly, right? But this group I give them credit they’ve stuck together, they’ve battled through it, if we weren’t battling right now we’d have a problem."
The Flyers get their first chance to come out of it on Saturday afternoon when they host the Boston Bruins. In Hextall's mind, it's a must-win game.
"We've got to stick with it. We've got to stick together. We've got to win Saturday," Hextall said. "That’s our focus right now. We've got to win Saturday."
Kevin Durso is Flyers editor for SportsTalkPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.