Late last week, George H.W. Bush, the 41st president of the United States, died at age 94. Officials in Pennsylvania and New Jersey have since joined leaders across the world in remembering Bush as a tireless humanitarian who did not let political differences prohibit friendships and cooperation. Meanwhile, Temple professor Marc Lamont Hill continues to draw fire for remarks made in a speech to the United Nations Thursday in which he criticized Israel and its treatment of Palestinians. Hill, who has since been dismissed as a CNN commentator, responded to the criticisms Saturday, apologizing for his word choice. This morning we also have a firsthand account from reporter Sam Carchidi following last week's stunning report that the Flyers had fired general manager Ron Hextall.
Each week we go behind the scenes with one of our reporters or editors to discuss their work and the challenges they face along the way. Last week, Flyers fans were shocked when beat writer Sam Carchidi reported the organization had fired general manager Ron Hextall after four seasons with the team. When the Flyers brought Hextall on in 2014, the former Flyers goaltender called it his "dream job." Now the organization is looking to replace him. Carchidi talked to us about this stunning development and what likely will happen with the team moving forward.
Were you surprised by Hextall's ouster or do you think the writing had been on the wall?
I was stunned by the firing. So was Ron Hextall, who said he had no warning and was blindsided by the dismissal. When you are with the organization in some capacity for 24 years (four as GM), you at least should be given three or four more weeks to turn things around before being let go.
You wrote that you believe it was the wrong move. What compelled you to take that stance?
Hextall wasn't perfect. He didn't make a signature trade and he didn't have the goaltending depth needed because of injuries, but he got the Flyers out of a bad cap situation, built up a weak farm system, and had outstanding drafts. To me, the coaching staff didn't get enough out of a talented team Hextall assembled.
How has the mood of the team, and the organization at large, been since more people have been let go?
The locker room has been very somber and the players seem to be waiting for more moves to take place. It's almost like they have a "Who's next to go?" mentality.
What can you tell us about what's next for the team? Any prediction for who will step in to navigate what seems to be a ship lost at sea?
I know Chuck Fletcher and Bill Zito are high on their list of GM candidates. My guess is that whoever they name, he will want to evaluate coach Dave Hakstol a bit before making a decision on his status. Looming in the background as possibly their next coach is Joel Quenneville, who was recently fired by Chicago but has three Stanley Cups on his resume.
What would you say to fans lamenting this season that would give them hope for a brighter future?
This team is talented but has been plagued by injuries to its two top goaltenders and the fact that some of its young core players — guys like Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gostisbehere— have taken a step back this season. In addition, the special teams have struggled mightily.
If the goalies get healthy and the young players return to form, the Flyers can make a playoff run. They also need to add a player who can bolster the penalty kill.
And remember, thanks to Hextall, the new GM will have about $7 million in cap space and will be able to make some deals.
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