Judging from the Flyers season ticket holders “Town Hall” meet ‘n greet with coach Dave Hakstol this week, there’s a lot of angry fans out there right now.
Their anger is targeting Hakstol and how he handled the benching of both Travis Konecny, and more specifically, Shayne Gostisbehere and why Ghost gets benched five games while Andrew MacDonald, who has had a decent amount of defensive gaffes himself this season, hasn’t seen the press box yet.
Well, I asked general manager Ron Hextall today about how Hakstol has handled the benching of two young players and whether this is really in their best interests going forward.
Not surprisingly, Hextall backed his coach on the matter.
“There's a lot of lessons that young people have to learn,” Hextall said. “We've all gone through it. I've gone through it; you go through it with your kids. We've all got to learn lessons. This is part of the process of young players growing in the pros. That's all it is. ...
“We met with some season ticket holders (Tuesday night) and I think there's a little bit of an overreaction going on right now. These players are young and they sat out. But other guys have sat out too. Matt Read sat out, Schultzie [Nick Schultz] sat out, other guys have sat out.
“It's not like you're just grabbing kids here and sitting them out. You're putting a lineup out there that you think has the best chance to win that night. That's Hak's job. His job is to win the next game.”
I’ve heard from a number of people that Ghost’s confidence has been absolutely rattled at this point. He’s sat five games this season, three in a row, and even though he was back on the first unit power play on Wednesday, he was last off the ice while Nick Schultz came in very early, suggesting that Ghost will also sit out Thursday’s game against the Islanders, too.
I asked Hextall if he’s worried how Ghost is handling this internally.
“If a player can't handle a benching, whether it's one of our veterans or one of our younger players, we probably have the wrong players or the wrong people,” Hextall replied. This is just part of the process. Is it fun? No. You think Hak wants to sit them out?
“You think I want them to sit out? You think the fans want them to sit out? You think the kids want to sit out? Of course not. Neither does Dale Weise or Matt Read or anybody else want to sit out. It's part of the process. It's a learning curve for these two kids and in the end they will be better for it.”
My taker? I think these benchings have hurt the Flyers more than they’ve helped them, especially considering how many players on this team seem “untouchable” and deserve a benching themselves.
Irony: Konecny will miss Saturday’s game against San Jose. That’s a big, heavy team where you want as much creativity as possible in the lineup, right?
Recall in late December when the Flyers were on the West Coast, Konecny’s first benching happen to come against those same Sharks.
And what did some of the players say after that loss?
They remarked how the Flyers could have used a “little more creativity” in their play that night.
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