The Philadelphia Flyers dismissed Ron Hextall on Monday, ending his four-and-a-half-year run as general manager after a particularly ugly 6-0 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs two days earlier.

Hextall became an icon for the franchise with his fiery temperament, but his approach to his GM work was significantly different. The 54-year-old preferred a patient, draft-and-develop-internally mentality that felt foreign in tumultuous Philadelphia.

Reflecting on his tenure with the Flyers, here are four blunders that played a major role in his firing.

Dealing Brayden Schenn for Jori Lehtera

Len Redkoles / National Hockey League / Getty

To be fair to Hextall, not many of his trades were disastrous for the Flyers. But this one – which sent Schenn, a big-bodied, skilled forward to the St. Louis Blues for Lehtera – seemed to go egregiously against the spirit of Philly and its NHL team.

Here, you had Schenn, a talented youngster who had scored 25 goals for the Flyers in his final season with the club, traded for Lehtera, who had never scored more than 14. Sure, there was a salary-cap element that slightly favored Lehtera – he had one fewer year on his contract, which was about $400,000 less costly than Schenn’s deal – but did that really offset the production differential?

You have to give Hextall credit for untangling the Flyers from their previously messy cap situation. But in the process, he may have squeezed a little too tightly on the Schenn/Lehtera deal and wound up hurting Philadelphia’s ability to be a true offensive juggernaut.

Lehtera – with one goal and three points this year – hasn’t been the answer in that department, while Schenn’s eight assists and 13 points in 18 games would’ve been a welcome sight in Flyers land. And although one bad trade isn’t enough to fire any NHL GM, Hextall’s most notable deal evidently did not work out as he’d envisioned.

Refusing to go with a proven No. 1 goaltender

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For years, if not decades, the Flyers’ adventures in goaltending have been a story that could be filed in either the horror, comedy, or tragedy section of a bookstore. Things haven’t changed this season: due to injury or substandard play, Philadelphia already has had five different goalies play at least one game, and not one of them has stepped up to claim the starter’s role.

Indeed, in the last game Hextall served as GM – when Philly was in Toronto – the Flyers were sunk less than halfway through the first period by poor goaltending. The fact Hextall – one of the top goalies of his generation – failed to acquire a netminder who could carry a team is an ongoing mystery.

That’s not to say he needed to pull off some blockbuster trade for Carey Price. For example, Carter Hutton was languishing in the backup role in Nashville until Sabres GM Jason Botterill plucked him out of there and made him Buffalo’s top netminder. Goaltending matters, and Hextall’s biggest mistake may have been his inability or refusal to acquire a goalie capable of being elite.

Hiring Dave Hakstol

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When Hextall brought in Hakstol to coach the team in May 2015, it was clear the Flyers were about to be a more defensive-minded group. He was successful at the NCAA level, but that doesn’t always translate to the NHL.

Though Hakstol has guided the Flyers to a playoff appearance in two of three years on the job, he has yet to coach Philadephia to a playoff series win and has begun this season 10-11-2. Although a coach is only as good as his goalie, the reality is, in a pressure-cooker environment like Philly, coaching four seasons without notable success (or even clear progress) usually doesn’t end well, and certainly doesn’t signal multiple future contract extensions.

Standing by Dave Hakstol

Eliot J. Schechter / National Hockey League / Getty

Hextall’s firing could ultimately come down to his decision to stick with Hakstol.

In the statement announcing Hextall’s dismissal, Holmgren mentioned philosophical differences – those differences could have included Hakstol remaining behind the bench.

Hockey can be a cold game, and sometimes you have to take the road less traveled if you wish to survive. It appears Hextall chose his relationship with Hakstol over his employment as GM. And while that’s his decision, it ultimately means he won’t be able to see out his vision in Philadelphia.

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