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Hextall: No decision on Berube; Lecavalier will return

Flyers general manager Ron Hextall hasn't decided whether he wants Craig Berube back next season, but he claimed his indecision had nothing to do with which coaches may soon become available.

Flyers general manager Ron Hextall hasn't decided whether he wants Craig Berube back next season, but he claimed his indecision had nothing to do with which coaches may soon become available.

"This is singular in itself. There's no waiting around to see if someone comes available or what else is out there," Hextall said Wednesday during his end-of-season news conference at the team's practice facility in Voorhees. "It's not part of the equation."

Hextall, whose team was eliminated from the playoffs March 29, said he was going to be "methodical" because he wanted to make the right choice. "I'm not going to make a hasty decision and look back and regret it. I'm going to do everything I can to gather all the information out there and make the right decision."

During two news conferences that totaled 54 minutes, Hextall said the club would not buy out the three years left on Vinny Lecavalier's contract. On Monday, Lecavalier, unhappy with his playing time and role under Berube, suggested the two could not coexist if the team did not make a coaching change.

There is expected to be an abundance of top coaching candidates, including Detroit's Mike Babcock, whose contract will end after the playoffs.

Will Ed Snider, chairman of the Flyers' parent company, Comcast-Spectacor, open his checkbook for Babcock?

There are rumblings that Boston's Claude Julien and San Jose's Todd McLellan will be fired, and they could be on Hextall's list if he decides to cut ties with Berube.

Dan Bylsma, the winningest coach in Pittsburgh Penguins history (252-117-32) and a man who has a Stanley Cup championship on his resumé, is a viable candidate.

Others potential candidates: Peter DeBoer, who in December took the fall for New Jersey's poor drafting; Guy Boucher, former Tampa Bay coach; Rod Brind'Amour, a Carolina assistant, and Kevin Dineen, a Chicago assistant, and both former Flyers; and Mike Stothers, another former Flyer and a man who was named AHL coach of the year Wednesday for a highly successful first season with the Los Angeles Kings' affiliate in Manchester, N.H.

Hextall has ties to Mark Morris, who completed his first season as a Florida assistant but posted a 338-224-66 record in eight seasons as coach at Manchester.

Phantoms coach Terry Murray, who directed the Kings when Hextall was Los Angeles' assistant GM, and L.A. assistant John Stevens also have connections to Hextall. Both are former Flyers head coaches.

Hextall said he wants to make a decision "as soon as possible in fairness to Chief. So we'll keep working at it. Everybody operates differently. I'm not a knee-jerk type of a guy. I typically go through a process before making decisions rather than make hasty decisions."

Berube, 49, a no-nonsense coach who wasn't shy about benching high-priced players when they underachieved, has one year left on his contract. He has been the head coach for nearly two seasons, compiling a 75-58-28 record.

The Flyers' failure to make the playoffs this season, Hextall said, falls on everyone, "including me. We're all working toward the same thing. I put the players on the ice, Chief coaches them, and the players play. I don't think there was one player I met with Monday or Tuesday that was happy with their season, including Jake Voracek, Claude Giroux, Michael Del Zotto, and Mark Streit . . . guys that had, by the numbers, pretty good years. I don't think anybody's happy sitting here today."

Hextall said he will consult with other staff members - that presumably includes club president Paul Holmgren, who hired Berube - before deciding whether he wants to change coaches.

The first-year GM said he wants a coach who gets the "most out of all your players. You're never probably going to get 100 percent. That's what you're hoping for. That's part of the evaluation process, for sure. . . . Did he get the most out of the players? Did he use them in the right situation? Things like that."

Other tidbits from Hextall:

He acknowledged that R.J. Umberger had a disappointing season but said he would make the same deal (for Scott Hartnell) again. Umberger recently had hip and abdominal surgery.

"I talked to R.J. yesterday, and he'd been hurt for maybe a year and a half. . . . So he's going to get in the best shape of his life and come back and be the best he can be."

He said Voracek, Steve Mason, and Wayne Simmonds took a "huge jump this year in terms of leadership."

On Saturday's draft lottery, otherwise known as the Connor McDavid Sweepstakes: "What do they say, prepare for the worst and hope for the best? That's where I'm at."