When “Patience” Doesn’t Pay Off
As a Flyers legend, it looked like Ron Hextall was untouchable as the Flyers GM. Through rocky periods and even a rough start to this season, it looked as though the Flyers were going to continue to “trust the process” in their drafting and developing of their franchise.
However, today, that patience seems to have worn thin on ownership and upper management, and today, the Flyers removed Hextall of his duties. Former GM and current President Paul Holmgren takes the reins in the meantime as a search commences. So who are some possible GM candidates for this team going forward?
The “Safe” Options
Chuck Fletcher most recently served as GM of the Minnesota Wild. Most consider Fletcher’s work to be excellent as a GM. Much of Minnesota’s roster can be thanked for his trades, drafting, and development. While building a playoff team in Minnesota, Fletcher ultimately failed to build a true playoff contender. Many of Fletcher’s picks turned into “safe” players, rather than “star” players. Regardless, Fletcher has a pedigree of success and may be a good option to tweak the Flyers roster during this terrible start to the season.
Fitzgerald’s name is always one of the first that pops up when NHL teams are interviewing GMs. Fitzgerald is currently the assistant GM for the New Jersey Devils and has helped Ray Shero immensely during the Devils rebuild. Fitzgerald has never served in an official GM role. However, his experience as an assistant GM during a rebuild may be just what the Flyers need to continue in their own rebuild of sorts.
Lombardi famously built the two LA Kings teams that won Cups in the early 2000’s. Lombardi is a GM that isn’t afraid to take risks. He famously traded prospects during the Kings rebuild for Jeff Carter and Mike Richards (ahh, remember the good old days with those guys in Orange and Black?), two building blocks that were key to the Kings playoff success. However, much of the LA Kings current roster problems are also a result of Lombardi’s leadership. He notoriously handed out a ton of loyalty contracts (see Dustin Brown for example) that has cash strapped the Kings. Lombardi also built his Kings team based upon size, not speed. In turn, the Kings are now currently suffering due to lack of speed, mostly from leftover players on a roster he developed. One would hope that Lombardi has learned from past mistakes. His penchant for risk heavy trades may do the Flyers well in the future.
Maloney was previously the GM of the Arizona Coyotes. While he did not lead the Coyotes to much success, he is lauded in the GM and scouting community. Maloney has vast experience in the NHL management world. While there may be better options for the Coyotes, Maloney has experience, and the Flyers may crave this moving forward.
Francis recently was let go by the Carolina Hurricanes. However, much of the Hurricanes’ current success this season can be attributed to his work. Francis did an excellent job of drafting and developing players. However, Francis is similar to Hextall in his approach. He was notoriously patient in developing his roster, and while the Hurricanes are currently reaping the benefits, he is out of a job. The Flyers may want to look to a GM with a “different “ approach to continue their rebuild.
The “Intriguing” Options
Pronger is currently a part of the Florida Panthers’ management group. Flyers fans are well acquainted with the on-ice work of Pronger, especially his tenacity. Pronger is currently using that same tenacity off the ice to climb the management ladder. Pronger was previously working for the NHL and now is a key part of the Panthers’ management group. He is considered an “up and comer,” though with limited experience. The Flyers may want to jump on Pronger, especially because of his repoire with Flyers fans and his eagerness to jump into a GM role.
McCrimmon is in the Vegas management team and has long been lauded for his player development. McCrimmon was key last season in Vegas’ success on the ice. He was hired well before the Knights partook in the Expansion Draft, and it was much of his scouting at the pro, minor, and CHL levels that led to the Knights’ success. NHL teams famously spent years trying to convince McCrimmon to leave his role as the GM of the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings. Vegas finally convinced him to take on a leadership role at the NHL level, but McCrimmon may want to take a role with more control of an NHL roster. If the Flyers are looking to continue to build through the draft and younger players, McCrimmon may be an excellent option.
Hunter just left the Toronto Maple Leafs as an assistant GM to retake the role of General Manager for the London Knights of the OHL, a team he owns. Hunter was disappointed he was not promoted in Toronto to the position of GM at last season’s end, and there is no question he wants to be a GM at the NHL level. Similar to McCrimmon, Hunter has had vast success at the CHL level and is lauded for his ability to draft and develop young players. While it is midseason, Hunter may want to jump at an opportunity, especially with a historic franchise like the Flyers.
Similar to Tom Fitzgerald, Guerin is a perennial favorite for GM positions in the NHL. With Jim Rutherford recently signing an extension in Pittsburgh, Guerin may be looking for a way out. Guerin was considered by many to be the heir to the Penguins GM throne. However, Pens ownership seems to be content with Rutherford going forward. This means, Guerin likely becomes a candidate for any GM job. Guerin has had a first hand look in what it looks like to tinker with a roster, as the Penguins used this to succeed and win two Cups. Guerin may have the best experience of any assistant GM in the league and could make an excellent fit for the Flyers.