Philadelphia Flyers franchise icon and senior advisor Bobby Clarke has always run his mouth at an elite rate, and on Tuesday he flexed those chops once again while utterly crushing former GM Ron Hextall.
On the latest episode of the Cam and Strick Podcast, Clarke blamed Hextall, who held the team's general manager position for a little over three seasons, for essentially everything wrong with the current roster. He pinned the somewhat miserable state of the franchise on Hextall's "huge mistakes" which, Clarke says, included some very questionable trades and draft choices, including the big one — passing on superstar defenseman Cale Makar.
Par for the course, Clarke did not mince words.
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"He alienated everybody right away. He shut his door, he locked the doors. He was the boss and nobody else was a part of it," Clarke said.
"We get the second pick in the draft and we end up drafting Nolan Patrick. None of our scouts wanted Nolan Patrick. I don't know where Patrick should have gone after his performances in Brandon, he's a pretty good player, but they certainly wanted Makar. Of course he went next. Now he's a superstar and Patrick hasn't played ... but Hextall made that choice himself."
Patrick, the No. 2 overall pick behind Nico Hischier in 2017, was widely considered a flop in Philadelphia after tallying 70 points in 197 games while struggling to stay healthy over four seasons with the Flyers. They finally gave up on the former Brandon Wheat Kings star last summer when they traded him to Vegas for fellow former top prospect Cody Glass. Patrick has played in nine games with the Golden Knights this season, tallying just one goal and three points.
A tier-2 Jr. A star with the Brooks Bandits of the AJHL at the time, Makar slid to the Avalanche at No. 4 and played two seasons at UMass-Amherst before joining the Avalanche for the 2019 playoffs and hasn't looked back since. The now-23-year-old blueliner won the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year, has already earned an All-Star game appearance (with a second surely to come this season), finished second in Norris Trophy voting last year, and is ripping up the stat sheet at nearly a point-per-game pace — in both the regular season and playoffs — which is absolutely unheard for a D-man, especially one this young.
And though that particular miss was of the unforgivable variety, Clarke insists it wasn't just one draft-day blunder that soiled Hextall's tenure with the Flyers.
"There are other choices that were made in our draft that we're paying for. We've got two or three first-round picks that are never going to play. That's why we're struggling. Hexy made some huge mistakes," said Clarke, with zero F's left to give, before ripping into some of Hextall's other misfires — including some questionable trades.
“Our scouts were so mad at Hexy for doing [the Schenn deal],” Clarke said. “We also had a chance to get O’Reilly from Buffalo. We didn’t. Obviously that was the manager’s decision, but that was another one that the scouts weren’t consulted on.”
The Flyers currently sit sixth in the Metropolitan Division with a 13-15-7 record as of this writing. Hextall, meanwhile, was hired as the Pittsburgh Penguins' general manager last February.
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