Flyers fire assistant GM Chris Pryor and assistant coach Gord Murphy
The Flyers continued to clean house Wednesday.
It didn't take long for Flyers acting general manager Paul Holmgren to act.
Chris Pryor, director of player personnel and assistant general manager, and assistant coach Gord Murphy were fired Wednesday.
Pryor spent 20 years with the Flyers and was the right-hand man for general manager Ron Hextall, who was fired Monday. Murphy, who coached the defense, was hired by Hextall before Dave Hakstol was named the head coach.
In addition, the Flyers put goalie Cal Pickard (4.01 GAA, .863 save percentage in 11 games) on waivers. He was plucked off waivers from Toronto by Hextall.
Notice a pattern?
Pryor's dismissal was surprising. More than anyone else, he was responsible for the Flyers' strong drafts for more than a decade. In a news release, Holmgren thanked him for his "dedication to the franchise and contributions."
In that same statement, Holmgren said Murphy's firing was done "in close consultation" with Hakstol. Holmgren thanked Murphy for "helping grow and develop our young core of defensemen."
Entering Wednesday, the Flyers were third-worst in the NHL with 3.58 goals allowed per game.
"At the end of the day, you hold a bit of responsibility for anything like that happening. We're not playing up to our potential," defenseman Andrew MacDonald said.
"It's tough times right now," defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere said. "He's my first 'D' coach in the NHL, and he helped me a lot. He completed my game, sort of. The defensive side. He's a pretty good motivator. It's tough."
Gostisbehere (minus-13) and Ivan Provorov (minus-4) have struggled mightily this season, however, and that probably had something to do with Murphy's dismissal.
Murphy was fired after Hakstol met with Holmgren on Wednesday morning.
"There's obviously hard decisions being made right now," Hakstol said, adding the move was completed for "what was best for our group on the back end."
Hakstol wouldn't get into specifics, saying it "wasn't fair to Murph, who is a helluva man and helluva coach and has put everything into our staff over the last five years and has been a great mentor to me in the coaches' room."
Hakstol was asked if the decline of Gostisbehere and Provorov caused the decision.
"I don't want to get into the specific issues; it's about our entire group," he said.
Holmgren declined to comment.
Hakstol said he and Holmgren will "look into a replacement."
The Flyers (10-12-2), who next play Saturday in Pittsburgh, have lost six of their last seven and fallen into last place in the Metropolitan Division. They blew a late 3-1 lead Tuesday and lost to visiting Ottawa, 4-3.
"We're all in this together," captain Claude Giroux said. "The only way we're going to get out of this is if everybody does their job, finding that chemistry on the ice that we know we have. Off the ice, there's no doubt this team is tight. We have a good group of guys here, and everybody cares for each other. We just have to do it on the ice, and when we do, we're going to win a lot of games in a row."
In another matter, goalie Michal Neuvirth, who hasn't played since Oct. 27 because of an apparent groin injury, practiced again with the team but hasn't been cleared to play in games. He might be ready for Saturday's game.
"At that position, [having] a veteran guy is a benefit," Hakstol said. "He's getting closer. … You still have to remember he didn't play a lot of hockey, so being healthy and cleared and ready to go is a little bit different than being game-ready as well. There's a process."
Neuvirth said he was "doing splits and things I wasn't able to do a month ago. I feel really good right now."
Former Minnesota Wild GM Chuck Fletcher appears to be the leading candidate to replace Hextall. … With James van Riemsdyk having a maintenance day, the Flyers' lines were scrambled at practice Wednesday. Jordan Weal was moved from third-line center to second-line left wing on a unit that included promoted right winger Wayne Simmonds, and the third line had Scott Laughton centering Michael Raffl and the demoted Jake Voracek. … Voracek (minus-11) is minus-8 in the last six games. … Brian Elliott was on the ice but doesn't appear close to being ready to play. … Neuvirth said he felt bad for Hextall. "He believed in me, and it was tough one for me to swallow. I wish I got healthy sooner."