The Flyers lost their ninth straight game on Tuesday to the San Jose Sharks, which is their longest streak in nine years.
During the game, a 3-1 affair that was one of the team’s worst performances of the season, fans repeatedly and loudly called for coach Dave Hakstol to be fired.
Then, following the game the captain Claude Giroux called for a closed-door meeting to air things out.
Yes, it was indeed one of the darkest moments in recent Flyers’ history.
Despite the bleak current climate, General Manager Ron Hextall is concerned but not alarmed.
“If you look at the way we’ve played from the start of the year, I’m pretty good with the way our team has played – and pretty good with the way our team has played the last nine games,” he said in the team’s locker room on Tuesday night. “I think tonight we ran out of energy. Obviously, results lately are not very good. We deserve better, but we haven’t gotten better [results]. Obviously, we gotta find a way.”
It wasn’t a ringing endorsement of Hakstol, but his comment sure made it sound like he has been mostly pleased overall with the direction of the team under the head coach this season.
The one outlier during the losing streak, and one Hextall is likely hanging his hat on, is the team has played well enough to win a majority of the games. They have lost four in regulation but five have come in overtime or a shootout. And in four of the last seven games, they held a two-goal lead in the third period.
“If we were playing poorly I would be the first to say we were playing poorly,” Hextall said. “We are not playing poorly. To look objectively at our team right now and say, ‘Are we playing poorly?’ No. ‘Are we shooting ourselves in the foot at times?’ Yes, we are. ‘[Committing] critical mistakes at critical times?’ Yes.”
Hakstol heard the fans and understands their frustration.
“Nobody said this was going to be easy,” the third-year coach said. “You better be able to stand up and handle that.”
Hextall also maintained his stance from before the season that his club is a playoff team. Entering Wednesday night’s games, the Flyers (8-10-7, 23 points) were in last place in the Metropolitan Division and six points out of the last wild card spot.
“We’re doing a lot of good things,” Hextall said. “Again, tonight I don’t think was our best game. … We gotta stick with it and stick together. We gotta win Saturday [against the Bruins].”
And shed even a small glimmer of light back on a franchise that is stuck in the abyss.