Photos: Alicia DeFillipo

Photos: Alicia DeFillipo

Another Flyers press conference. Another made man. But this time, savvy businessman, hard worker and questionable habiter Peter Luukko wasn’t in attendance. His old role – as club president – will being filled by Paul Holmgren, who will oversee hockey and business operations even though he admits he has a “limited knowledge” of the business side of things.

The bright side? Ron Hextall, the new GM, talks the talk.

Despite being yet another former Flyer who owes his entire existence to Mr. Snider, as the chairman is endearingly referred to by seemingly everyone under the Comcast Spectacor umbrella, Hextall spoke of a decidedly different vision from the one Holmgren carried out over the better part of the last decade.

Hextall talked of the need for the Flyers to retain their young talent, grow from within and, astoundingly, USE ANALYTICS!

“That’s where we’re going,” Hextall told reporters after the presser. “It’s going to be a huge part of what we do going forward.”

That’s something.

Earlier this season, Holmgren mentioned that the Flyers, like the Sixers and Eagles, were dipping their toe into the digit-filled soup of sports science, a claim that was met with much my skepticism. But if Hextall is serious, this is actually a big deal. Advanced hockey metrics folks hate basically everything the Flyers do, and thus far their criticisms have proven to be accurate. I wouldn’t expect Hextall to be Sam Hinkie – in fact, if the Wells Fargo Center were a schoolyard, Hextall would probably beat Hinkie’s nerdy ass – but literally any advanced statistical analysis will likely help the Flyers and save them from dishing out ridiculous contracts to players who don’t need or deserve ridiculous contracts (see: Bryzgalov, Ilya; Lecavalier, Vinny; MacDonald, Andrew).

Hextall, who will have “full authority” on hockey-related decisions, said he will expect the younger players to show up in much better shape this fall than they did last year. He believes in building from the ground-up, but noted that it would be difficult, if not impossible, because the Flyers are always good enough to not get top draft picks. The takeaway? Expect him to continue building around the young core and to avoid hasty, knee-jerk decisions like the ones to trade away Stanley Cup champions Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, and Vezina winner Sergei Bobrovsky.

The elephant in the room was the speculation that Holmgren was pushed out of the GM seat and into the role in which he admittedly doesn’t understand 50% of the duties. All three men swore that wasn’t the case, but then Holmgren refused to answer a question about whether this inevitability was hastened by Hextall receiving a job offer elsewhere.

Holmgren claimed that the decision to promote Hextall (and himself?) was mostly his idea and that he and Hextall had been discussing it since December, and then, in January, informed Mr. Snider of their plan. Sure. This despite Holmgren doing what Snider called an “outstanding” job as GM— making the Flyers a contending team again even though they’ve been a contending team for pretty much the past 20 years.

Holmgren reiterated that he and Hextall, who’s “got [a Flyers logo] on his ass,” are, and always have been, good friends, and that they cried like babies when Hextall left for LA. Hextall corrected his boss and said that it was only Holmgren who cried. Somehow I believe this.

So now Holmgren slides over into Luukko’s vacant seat at Delilah’s in the front office, where, Holmgren says, he’ll lean on his employees to teach him about the business side of things.

“There are things on the other side I don’t know much about,” Holmgren, the president of hockey and business operations, said of business operations.

There wasn’t nearly the drama in this press conference that there was in the last, and Holmgren did a good job of deflecting questions about being forced out as GM. And for his part, Hextall explained his different process, which seems like it will breathe some fresh, outside air into the organization. Until, you know, it doesn’t.