Hextall: Flyers must be in better physical shape

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Hextall: Flyers must be in better physical shape

This is the final segment of a four-part Q&A with Ron Hextall, who just completed his first summer offseason in Philadelphia as the Flyers’ general manager.

Who in your mind has improved the most in the East and in your division?

Hextall: Oh, boy. Boy, that’s a good question.

Looks to me like the Rangers and Penguins took steps backwards.

Hextall: People maybe look at Tampa in the East and say they improved. I always say, if you don’t improve from within, you can only make so many steps. ... You can’t sign free agents X and Y and say, ‘Oh, we’ve gotten so much better.’ Maybe you look at Minnesota two years ago and say they were the exception with [Zach] Parise and [Ryan] Suter. You say, ‘Well, they should be a lot better.’ It didn’t work out quite like some people thought it would. For the most part, you can’t go out and sign a free agent or two and say you took this huge step. Because of chemistry and everything else that goes into it. If you don’t get better from within, your chances of moving too far ahead are slim. That’s where we focused this summer. Getting better from within. Not just on the ice, but some of our staff and minor league team. Little things we can improve in here like the analytical part or coaching part. There’s things we can get better. It’s not just the product on the ice which is a byproduct of all the little things that you improve on, whether it’s medical devices or training programs. Our team was very diligent about training [this summer]. Our team last year? I don’t think was in great shape. I really don’t, for whatever reason. We better be in better shape this year. 1 and 7 [start]? We can’t do that again. We got to be ready to go on opening night. We gotta fricking go! That type of thing far outweighs signing a decent free agent.

What did you learn from your father [Bryan Jr.] and grandfather [Bryan Sr.] in hockey?

Hextall: It’s funny. ... Probably the biggest thing coming out of being a son of an NHL player and grandson was you’re pretty much born into hockey. When that happens, you go one of two ways. You either love it or you hate it. And I loved it. I’d go to practice with my dad when I was 4-5-6 ... watch practice, skate before practice and skate after practice. Be in the locker room after practice. The whole lifestyle thing. People ask me why I was a goalie. I have absolutely no idea. ... The biggest thing I learned was the lifestyle and passion I had. My dad was a hard worker and honest player. He was an honest man. … I think I’m the luckiest kid ever. I still have fond memories of practices in Pittsburgh and Atlanta and Detroit and Minnesota. I remember Pat Quinn and Butch Deadmarsh in Atlanta fighting during practice and then coming out after practice and they were talking. And I couldn’t figure it out. They were on the ice teammates and they fought. Then after practice they are in the street clothes talking outside the locker room. I questioned my dad on the way home. Why were they talking? They just fought. They were both bleeding. Just the whole passion for the game. I’m rambling on a bit. The lifestyle and work habits is the short answer.

So what was your father’s answer to that question?

Hextall: He just said it was a confrontation. They got mad at each other. They fought, but they are still teammates. I couldn’t figure out what was going on, but I guess I should have because my brother and I fought like crazy, but would be best buddies 10 minutes later. I probably should have understood it. ... I got it figured out now.

Did you ever settle it with [Chris] Chelios since he lives in [Malibu] and you had seven years out there?

Hextall: No, but I took a lot of heat for talking to him one night in the press box. You guys all made a big deal of it. I don’t know what people wanted. Did they want Cheli and I to stand up in the press box and go at it? I don’t know. I respect him. He played hard. He would have been a great Flyer. I would have loved to play behind him.

What part of Ron Hextall the player has carried over to Ron Hextall the GM?

Hextall: [Laughing]. Thankfully, probably not much of it.

You were quick-tempered as a player.

Hextall: Well, yeah and I was reactive, but you have to be. It’s a fast game and things happen and you had to be. But in my position now, it’s whoa. You've got to be really methodical and think things through and don’t jump too quick. Funny, but when you think about it, it’s almost totally opposite of what I did as a player. And I think a coach has to be more like a player. A manager can’t be like a player. You've got to look for today and look for tomorrow and you've gotta look for the next four or five years. And you've gotta be patient. There are going to be times where we will go through a rough time and you’ll be wanting to do something. Sometimes you've just gotta hold the fort.

Last question … why was John Paddock (defensive coach) cut loose? He held a variety of jobs here over the years.

Hextall: My beliefs are having a big enough staff, but not too big a staff. I really felt like we needed a defenseman [to coach the defense]. A defenseman who played the position and could teach our defense on the ice during the game and video sessions. I have a lot of respect for John. We’re from the same province [Manitoba]. I’ve known him a long time. He is a fricking good human being. If you ask me the hardest thing I’ve done since taking over, that was it. I thought about that and fretted over that for a period of time and in the end, it made sense. I didn’t want to have an extra coach. ... Gord Murphy is a real teacher and former teammate. A real smart player and kinda calm, methodical, well thought-out guy. He is going to be really good for our defense. That’s not saying anything bad about John, but he was a forward and Lappy [Ian Laperriere] was a forward and Chief [Craig Berube] was a forward and [Joey] Mullen was a forward. ... Forward, forward, forward. That was a hard decision and a really tough thing to do because he was a good man and I had a lot of respect for him.

Flyers Notes: Focus of trade rumors, Mark Streit wants to stay with team

Flyers Notes: Focus of trade rumors, Mark Streit wants to stay with team

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Two days before the NHL trade deadline, Mark Streit is content.
 
Not with how the Flyers are playing or anything even close to that.
 
The 39-year-old defenseman is content with his role on the Flyers and would very much like to complete his fourth and final season with the club to the bitter end.
 
Whether that's the playoffs or going home early.
 
Somewhere out there, there's a playoff club with a struggling power play that could use his skill set. Perhaps San Jose, which has a poor power play. Yet the Sharks are in need of a scoring winger, not another blueliner.
 
As an unrestricted free agent, Streit is a perfect candidate to be moved at this point.
 
"I don't know, to be honest," Streit said on Monday. "I don't know. Maybe there is a demand for me. I don't really think about it.
 
"I'm an older guy and my contract is up. Usually, you talk about those guys being dealt. That is just the nature of the business. But I love being here, love the guys and love the team. I want to win with this team."
 
The Flyers aren't going to win the Stanley Cup this season. Right now, they're not even going to make the playoffs.
 
Kimmo Timonen was a Flyer a few years ago, missed nearly the entire 2014-15 season with blood clots, and when he was finally allowed to play, asked to be traded to a playoff contender.
 
Timonen won a Cup with Chicago.
 
Streit has a modified no-trade clause and can give the Flyers a list of 10 clubs to be traded to.
 
"[Timonen] was in a little bit of a different situation," Streit said. "He didn't play a big part of the year and he came back and we were out of the playoffs.
 
"If I were 100 percent sure this was my last year and I would retire, then I would probably look at it differently. I still feel great, I still want to play. So this is a little different.
 
"I am not looking like I want to get dealt and go to a contender or anything like that. That's why I don't look at it like Kimmo's situation."
 
It's entirely possible the Flyers move Streit and then re-sign him for one year to act as a veteran presence in the dressing room next season to bring along some of the younger defensemen, perhaps Robert Hagg and/or Sam Morin or Travis Sanheim.
 
Streit told CSNPhilly.com Monday even if he finishes the season here, he would like to return to the Flyers on a short-term deal to help transition some of the young talent the Flyers are expected to promote next season.
 
"It's on my mind," Streit said. "We're going to have a lot of free agents (defensemen) and maybe there's going to be changes and maybe not.
 
"There's young guys on the team. ... I would like doing that, like I have with Ghost [Shayne Gostisbehere] and Provy [Ivan Provorov] and I think it'd be a great thing to do. I've already thought about that and yeah, it's an option for sure."
 
Group meeting
Streit was part of a leadership group meeting at center ice Monday at Skate Zone during Flyers practice with coach Dave Hakstol. Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds were included, as well.
 
Neither Hakstol nor those involved in the meeting would speak to its specifics.
 
"When you win 10 in a row, everything is easy," Streit said. "Everybody is happy and everything works itself out. Times like [this] it's up to guys in the room to lead by example.
 
"If you play good, you've got to play great. If you're playing great, you've just got to play a little bit better and help the team in a good way, a positive way. You can only do it as a team ... you're not going to do it as individuals."
 
Giroux offered his take on the meeting, as well.
 
"We have to find a way to win hockey games," Giroux said. "Everybody is frustrated right now. We can't be pointing fingers.
 
"Everybody needs to be a little bit better and give a little more and go one game at a time here. Tomorrow, we're back in front of our fans. We've got to get this win, we know that. We've just got to keep at it."
 
Loose pucks
Steve Mason is expected to start in goal Tuesday against Colorado after sitting six consecutive games. ... Travis Konecny (ankle and knee) skated with assistant coach Ian Laperriere and then participated in limited practice with the team. He could return by the weekend. 

Brandon Manning suspended 2 games for hit on Penguins' Jake Guentzel

Brandon Manning suspended 2 games for hit on Penguins' Jake Guentzel

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Flyers defenseman Brandon Manning was suspended two games for his illegal hit to Pittsburgh's Jake Guentzel during Saturday's 4-2 loss in the Stadium Series game at Heinz Field.
 
Manning's shoulder made contact with Guentzel's head.
 
Manning wasn't surprised and even admitted to reporters that he fully expected "one or two" games because he hit a player who didn't have control of the puck yet.
 
Strangely, there was no penalty on the play for interference, yet the NHL's explanation on Monday afternoon specifically cited "interference" as the reason for the suspension.
 
This is Manning's first NHL suspension.
 
The hearing was conducted on the phone Monday with Stephane Quintal, senior vice-president of NHL Player Safety. Manning will forfeit $10,833.34 in salary.
 
"It was late," Manning said of the hit. "He didn't touch the puck after it hit his skate, which I thought he was going to do. They do their whole breakdown by time frame."
 
Manning said he caught Guentzel's shoulder first, then his head "on the follow through" because Guentzel is shorter than him. The 6-foot-1 Manning has two inches on Guentzel.
 
Guentzel, who had two assists in the game, was not injured.
 
"Looking at it, [the hit] is a little late," Manning admitted. "I thought he was going to touch the puck. Usually, when a puck hits your skate, you pick it up, and he kinda left it. ... The hard part is, there was no penalty called on it."
 
Manning said he had to make a hit or face an odd-man rush.
 
"There were two players there and if I don't play my guy there, it’s a 3-on-1 the other way," he said. "You're giving up scoring chances. Fortunately, he wasn't hurt. He finished the game and that's always the good thing."
 
Mark Streit, sitting on the bench at the time, said he saw the hit and was shocked at the suspension.
 
"It was a great hit," Streit said. "You look at the replay and everything looks different. You can slow down every hit and talk about it. I guess it was a little late ..."
 
Manning's suspension likely means Michael Del Zotto will play against Colorado on Tuesday.
 
Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said Manning has been a "solid piece" for the club this season.
 
"He brings that physical edge, he's been reliable, and he's been a staple for our lineup," Hakstol said. "That's a hole we'll have to fill over next couple of games here."
 
Manning will also miss Thursday's game against Florida.