ron hextall

Ron Hextall excited to bring 'sharp guy' Dean Lombardi back to Flyers' front office

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Ron Hextall excited to bring 'sharp guy' Dean Lombardi back to Flyers' front office

UNIONDALE, N.Y. — The Philadelphia-Los Angeles pipeline is apparently still intact.

General manager Ron Hextall on Sunday confirmed the hiring of former boss Dean Lombardi, who’s been added to the Flyers' front office, but in a position that has yet to be determined.

“He’s got a lot of experience,” Hextall said of Lombardi. “He’s a sharp guy and we’d be foolish not to bring him aboard. For me, it’s going to be another guy to run things by. We'll find something else for him to do. He’s not going to be in the scouting department.”

Lombardi served as a Flyers scout from 2003-06 before joining the Kings organization in the role of general manager in 2006. He hired Hextall, who, at the time, was the Flyers' director of player personnel, as assistant GM that same year and together they constructed a team that brought Los Angeles its first Stanley Cup championship in 2012. After Hextall rejoined the Flyers organization in 2012 as assistant GM, Lombardi and the Kings added a second championship.

What Lombardi does here in Philadelphia will be completely different from Hextall’s job in Los Angeles.

“Night and day,” Hextall said regarding Lombardi's role. “He’s a real hard worker and a thinker. Again, every hockey mind you can get around is good. He’s got a good mind. Whenever your work with people, you learn a lot. From Bob Clarke to Paul Holmgren to Dean, everybody’s got their strengths. So whoever you work with, you learn. I learned things from Keith Allen years back.”

Hextall and Lombardi had initial conversations not long after the Kings fired Lombardi this past April, but Hextall doesn’t believe Lombardi was holding out to see if a general manager position opened up somewhere around the league.  

“I think he was kind of focused on us, if something worked out with us,” Hextall said, “He had been here before and we obviously know each other. In terms of whether he wants to be a GM again, that’s a better question for him.”

Perhaps the better question is whether Lombardi and Hextall can bring similar success to Philadelphia like they did in L.A.

Flyers goalie prospect pays homage to 'It' with clown-themed mask

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Photo: Davidofdaveart

Flyers goalie prospect pays homage to 'It' with clown-themed mask

You want intimidation? I’ll show you intimidation.

Stealing a quote from "Little Giants," but that’s what Flyers prospect Alex Lyon is doing with his new mask for this season, which has to be the scariest in all of hockey.

Lyon, who played in 47 games last season for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and is expected to start this season there, pays homage to the movie "It" with a clown-themed mask with orange balloons, instead of the red balloons used in the new movie.

This mask is frightening, and perhaps, it’ll give nightmares to opposing players.

(Photo from @davidofdaveart on Instagram)

Also hitting the Internet is the mask of goalie Brian Elliott. Elliott, signed by the Flyers in the offseason to a two-year, $5.5 million deal, has a mask similar to Ron Hextall when the current Flyers GM was their goalie.

If we’re talking about goalie masks, it must almost be hockey season. The puck drops on a new year on Oct. 4 in San Jose.

Check and check: Why Nolan Patrick should make Flyers without question

Check and check: Why Nolan Patrick should make Flyers without question

Will Nolan Patrick make the Flyers?

It might be the most tantalizing question ahead of the 2017-18 season.

But the criteria for the answer is quite simple:

Does Patrick make the Flyers better?

Yes.

Does he still need junior hockey?

No.

Let's look at the first question.

Over the past three seasons, the Flyers have scored 2.58 goals per game, tied for 22nd in the NHL. They have lit the lamp at a nearly identical — but stale and stagnant — clip. In 2014-15, it was 212 goals, followed by 211 in 2015-16 and 212 last season. That's three straight seasons of bottom-third goal scoring.

In that same three-year stretch, the Flyers have ranked 27th in the NHL with 396 goals at 5-on-5 play. Last year, the Flyers' 128 goals at 5-on-5 were the franchise's fewest in a complete season since 2007-08 (126) and the second fewest in the last 30 years.

The Flyers have needed depth and playmaking at the center position, definitive factors into why their scoring has languished. Here is Patrick, a 6-foot-3, 198-pound center regarded for his ability to create and make chances. The pressure he would relieve off of Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier would only be an added bonus.

How about question No. 2?

At 17 years old with the WHL's Brandon Wheat Kings, Patrick amassed an astounding 132 points (54 goals, 78 assists) in 93 games, including playoffs.

At 18 years old last season, Patrick trudged through troublesome core muscle problems to put up 20 goals and 26 assists in 33 games.

"I was probably 60 percent when I first started playing and maybe got up to 70, 75 tops," Patrick said in July. "I never had any wind during games. I'd lose my energy really quick because I'd lose it trying to skate with that injury. Probably 75 tops, I'd say."

Think about that: Patrick would feel a "sharp, shooting pain" in his lower stomach, he said, when skating last season, and still managed to produce 46 points (1.4 per night) in 33 games.

Imagine the kid healthy?

"Even playing injured for most of the year, he could still dominate some games and was still one of the top players out there," his uncle James Patrick said to CSNPhilly.com in June. "That's where he was in February of this year, I have no doubt and expect him to be stronger and healthier and even better in October of this year.

"I do think for him, because of where he's at in junior and Brandon, I do think it's best for him to be in the NHL, but he's got to go out and earn that."

Which is Ron Hextall's language. The Flyers' general manager will say the right things and always be diplomatic when discussing a prospect's chances at making the roster. And that's perfectly fine. Training camp is about competition — let the play do the talking and decision-making for the front office.

But with the No. 2 overall pick healthy and rejuvenated following June abdominal surgery, Patrick has already answered the Flyers' questions. At his age, it's either back to junior hockey for all of 2017-18 or make the Flyers. Patrick turns 19 years old on Sept. 19 and his NHL birthday present should be unwrapped now, not later.

He's ready to play.