In the End, Flyers Patience Ran Out on Ron Hextall
Patience is a virtue. And it's not exactly one you associate with the Philadelphia Flyers.
For decades, the Flyers were a franchise that didn't take it from anybody. If you beat them up, they figured out a way to beat you up worse. If they weren't performing well, there was Ed Snider, the ringleader ready to make a change.
It's why when the Flyers suffered another embarrassing defeat, already their third by five goals or more this season, it was the final straw for many of the loyal supporters. Ed Snider would have done something by now to put a stop to this. So why hasn't anything been done?
With the winds of change blowing wild, not only in Philadelphia but around the league, it really was no surprise when the Flyers had an official news release on Monday. The subject matter was surprising.
Ron Hextall was out as Flyers GM.
Hextall exercised patience more than anybody in the organization did in recent memory. His plan was building from within, molding and growing a championship roster the way that Chicago and Los Angeles had. After four-plus seasons as the GM, the Flyers had made the playoffs twice and lost in the first round with little progress. Hextall was stubborn when it came to prospect timelines. He was stubborn about blocking out prospects. He wouldn't take the big splash or make the big move or do the major shakeup when it was needed.
It was his patience that doomed him, and the Flyers upper management ultimately ran out of patience with Hextall's plan.
When it came to Hextall, you typically knew the answer before the question was asked. He was air-tight when it came to injury news -- only on the rarest of occasions did the Flyers offer up specifics. He would not box himself in with his words when it came to a prospect. Even if he was outperforming what was on the ice, it was never enough in the GM's eyes.
And when another season started to go off the rails and a change was needed, Hextall wasn't going to budge from the process. No coaching change when preparation was an issue. No roster changes when the team wasn't getting the goaltending and wasn't getting the penalty killing -- two areas he left unaddressed in the offseason. It made this decision the only logical place to turn. If he wasn't going to, the Flyers were going to bring in someone who would.
Ron Hextall the player was reactionary, aggressive to a fault. As a GM, he had his chances to go from being patient and waiting for everything to open up -- to gain the draft picks and prospects, to have the cap space -- and remained passive.
When it came down to it, he didn't have to be overly aggressive to a fault. He just needed to do something that changed the tune. He backed his coach and he backed the team he put together, when the results and performance were not good enough.
Hextall's patience was refreshing at first, a clear process and path to a desired destination shared by the organization. It's what made the team's statement on Monday from team president Paul Holmgren so telling.
"It has become clear that we no longer share the same philosophical approach concerning the direction of the team. In light of these differences, we feel it's in the organization's best interests to make a change, effective immediately."
The Flyers organization welcomed the patient approach. But when it was time to change and time to act and patience wasn't welcome anymore, Hextall stuck to his plan. Ultimately, it cost him his job. And because of it, that's probably not the only change that will happen around the organization in the coming days and weeks.
Kevin Durso is Flyers insider for 97.3 ESPN and Flyers editor for SportsTalkPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.