Ousted Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said that he felt his team was close to being a contender, but that they weren’t quite there yet. He didn’t want to trade young talent for older players on multi-year contracts.

That was the recurring theme as Hexy spoke with the media on Friday morning, four days after his firing.

Anthony SanFilippo talked to Flyers COO Shawn Tilger after the press conference, so he’ll flesh all of this out later in much more detail.

For now, these were the biggest takeaways from Hextall’s availability from the Wingate hotel across the street from the team practice facility:

  • Hextall “did not see” his firing coming. He said he was “shocked” and “stunned” by the decision. “The only thing (Paul Holmgren) said is that your vision and my vision are not the same.”
  • He said there were three stages of his tenure – 1. cleaning up the salary cap, 2. gathering assets and developing and implementing young players, and 3. ‘go time’, “I didn’t feel right now we were at ‘go time.’ I didn’t feel like the Winnipegs and Tampas and Nashville, I didn’t feel we were there yet.”
  • Hextall did say he was open to moving some players this year, had “active conversations.”
  • RE: the “philosophical differences,” Hextall said everybody thinks differently, said he asked Ed Snider for patience, which he agreed to give him. “He was on board.” Hextall talked about the six years it took Los Angeles to win.
  • He wasn’t willing to trade a 20-something year old player just to get stuck with an aging player on a multi-year deal
  • No tension build-up in recent months or recent years with Dave Scott or Paul Holmgren. “I think we were both after the same thing, but maybe we thought we’d get there in different ways.”
  • He was excited about this season with young kids who were supposed to be taking the next step, plus adding James van Riemsdyk. “I certainly expected to take a step this year, and it’s disappointing as hell.” On paper, he says it’s a good team.

More after the jump:

  • Special teams hurt the Flyers this year. He also thinks “growing pains” were an issue with young players, which was “a big part of it.” Goaltender injuries were something else he also pointed out. “There were a lot of things that just went the wrong way on us.”
  • He dodged questions on Dave Hakstol and didn’t really comment on the coach. “There’s responsibility on every one of us… we were all in it together.”
  • Raising the cup in LA was “worth the six years of pain.”
  • “I wasn’t going to make a panic, short-term move that wasn’t going to help us this year.”
  • RE: Flyers alumni and how they were treated, Hextall admitted that he would have thought more about it “in hindsight.” He gave an example of how he didn’t put too much thought into letting some ex-players use a specific locker room at the Wells Fargo Center, which slipped his mind at the time.
  • As far as the locker room, Hextall pushed back a bit on the idea that he was a micro manager, but did say that he “doesn’t run a country club. I don’t believe you win that way. I believe in tight doors, I believe in the sanctity of the locker room.” He apparently closed the locker room to people outside of immediate family and was not into people bringing their “buddies” to work. “There were some things I didn’t like, so we changed some things.” 
  • “I like structure. I’m a structured guy. I believe in structure.”
  • on being patient with Carter Hart: “How many 20 year old goalies come out of junior hockey and go to the NHL? Not many. How many 20 year old goalies come out of junior hockey and go to the NHL and are successful? The best thing to do with him has have him get experience down there.”
  • Coaching staff was always under evaluation, but there was no time in which upper management talked to him about making a change with Hakstol.
  • He was not close with Wayne Simmonds’ agent in terms of coming up with a new deal. Also could not find a middle ground with Ivan Provorov’s agent in contract talks.
  • They made a free agency list and “drew the line,” did not want to go down to their 4th or 5th guy and just throw money at backup choices
  • Hextall says he was protective of allowing too much information to come out. He didn’t want players to see their names in trade rumors, wanted to give their families peace of mind.

That’s about it. He reiterated several times that he wasn’t going to get rid of assets for immediate help and become saddled with bad contracts.

He had a long-term vision. Paul Holmgren and Dave Scott obviously did not.