May 18th 2015, will go down as one of the darkest days in Philadelphia Flyers history. That was the day the Flyers decided to hire Dave Hakstol as their new head coach. From that day forward, us Flyers fans would suffer for over three an a half years of mediocrity. It was horrible, easily the worst years of being a Flyers fan in my 25 years of living and dying with the Orange and Black.
When I tell you I hate this man, I mean I fucking hate this man. His team would be getting blown out and he’d just stand there with this blank look on his face showing no emotion whatsoever. I think thats what bothered me the most, him never showing any sort of emotion when things were good or bad. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t want the guy to be freaking out over everything, but for fucks sake dude give me something.
In all my years of watching the Flyers I don’t think there was ever a time where they were on the losing end of a blowout than when Hakstol was in charge. I’d cut the guy a little bit of slack if the teams he had in front of him were trash, but they really weren’t all that bad.
2015 was his first year and the Flyers were coming off of an 84 point season where they finished 6th in the Metro. Hakstol replaced Craig Berube and had a solid core to work with. Giroux, Voracek, Simmonds, and Couturier on the offensive side and an average defensive core lead by veterans Mark Streit, Andrew MacDonald, and Nick Schultz. Top that off with two somewhat decent goalies in Michael Neuvirth and Steve Mason and this Flyers team had the potential to do something. I’ll be the first to admit the veterans we had on defense hurt us the most, along with our goaltending. MacDonald was trash every year he was here and probably my least favorite Flyer of all time. Streit was getting too old to keep up with the fast paced NHL and our goalies just decided to shit the bed at the worst possible times. So, that first year had its ups and downs and the Flyers ended up finishing (41-27-14, 96pts) just good enough to make the Playoffs. Due to the regular season not being all that successful the Flyers had to go up against the Capitals in the first round and would lose in six games.
The 2016-17 season was bad…Hakstol relied more on guys like Chris VandeVelde, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, and a coked up Valtteri Filppula then giving some of his new young guys a chance. Travis Konecny was in his rookie year, but showed signs of greatness and Hakstol never gave him a real chance. On the defensive side it was also future Norris Trophy winner, Ivan Provorov first NHL season. He was the best defenseman on the team that year but again, that idiot Hakstol trusted Andrew MacDonald, Brandon Manning, and Michael Del Zotto rather than giving the stud rookie a chance to shine. That would be the most frustrating part of this season, clearly the guys he was putting out there weren’t working so why not give the young guys a chance to learn and grow. The Flyers would finish (39-33-10, 88pts) and 6th in the Metro, on the outside looking in for the playoffs.
The next year the Flyers went (42-26-14, 98pts) and finished 3rd in the Metro division. Now, if you just look at the record and standings you would think this was a pretty good year. Don’t get me wrong it was okay but, any year when a team loses TEN straight games is really not all that great. What’s even worse is they lost ten straight and Hakstol still kept his job…The Flyers needed a huge second half of the season to even make the playoffs and they got lucky and pulled it off. All that work went to waste though, as they would lose to the Penguins in the first round in six games. Three of the loses in the series would be embarrassing performances and it was clear the Flyers had given up on Hakstol.
2018-19 should have been a great year for the boys in Orange and Black. Hakstol had plenty of talent in front of him and a team that now had some playoff experience. The Flyers, as per usual under Hakstol would get off to a slow start. The longest win streak they could put together going into December was three games…That’s it, I mean it was bad. Now granted, they had a lot of bad luck with goalie injuries but you could just tell this team wasn’t responding to Hakstol at all. What’s even crazier about this slow start is that Hakstol wasn’t the first one fired! That’s right, the GM Ron Hextall was the first to go before the dumbass coach. Finally, after losing four straight to the Western Canada teams one of the best days in Flyers history was upon us…December 17th 2018, Dave Hakstol was finally fired. I damn near had my own parade down broad street that day, it was such a relief knowing that he was no longer going to be able to hold this team back. Unfortunately, after digging themselves into a big hole at the beginning of the season, their late season push wasn’t enough to make the playoffs and they finished (37-37-8, 82pts) for 6th in the Metro. While it sucked missing the playoffs it was great knowing that coming into the next season that bum Hakstol was no longer going to be in charge.
Sorry for the length of this but I’ve had this rant on Hakstol bottled up for a long time. After seeing how successful the Flyers have been under Alain Vigneault, the Hakstol era was even more frustrating to look back on. Before the season was paused the Flyers were one of the hottest teams in the NHL and hopefully once it picks back up they will pick up where they left off and go on a Stanley Cup run.
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