James van Riemsdyk had all sorts of selling points for returning to the Flyers.
A familiarity with the organization's culture and brand.
Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek lobbying for his services.
Prominent roles within a mix of youthfulness and veterans.
But perhaps one of the more underrated reasons for van Riemsdyk's decision to sign a five-year contract with the orange and black last Sunday: Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol.
Before pulling the trigger on his landing spot in free agency, van Riemsdyk did his homework. He talked to players like Giroux and Voracek and gained a grasp of Hextall's vision — whatever it took to make certain the Flyers were his best fit among the 10 to 12 suitors.
To do so, he also studied the coach — and quite extensively.
It's clear he was won over by Hakstol and the information he gathered from others on the Flyers' bench boss.
"I've gotten a chance to talk to him a couple of times over the course of the free agency week there, just got to talk a little bit on his philosophies and stuff like that for hockey," van Riemsdyk said on Thursday's edition of Philly Sports Talk. "I also got a chance to talk to some different guys that have played for him over the years, whether it was in college or even with the Flyers, [players] who may not be there anymore, so I got a chance to know a little more about him and I'm excited to work with him."
The addition of van Riemsdyk raises the ante for Hextall and the Flyers' process. The same goes for Hakstol, who is entering Year 4 of a five-year contract, according to CapFriendly.com. Hakstol was already facing some pressure prior to the van Riemsdyk signing. It only grows when you drop a 36-goal scorer onto the roster without losing anything other than cap space.
Hakstol's decision-making and system will now be even more directly under the microscope.
"Ninety-eight points is respectable, being a playoff team is respectable — we're not here to be respectable, we're here to be better than that," Hakstol said in late April after a first-round playoff exit, the second during his three-year tenure. "I look at the little areas that lead up to those outward benchmarks."
Hakstol's newest left winger was impressed by the coach's makeup and mindset.
"He's a passionate guy about hockey and he's knowledgeable, as well," van Riemsdyk said. "So I think it's going to be great."
In fact, van Riemsdyk saw great aspects across the board.
"My fit within what they were looking to add to their team and what they already have in place, I thought that was great," he said. "Organizationally, you just know with Philadelphia, every year, they're going to give you the resources you need to win, they're going to try to do everything they can do to help you, so you just have to worry playing hockey versus the other stuff.
"They're not going to leave any stone unturned."
During his research, van Riemsdyk didn't, either. After turning them all over, he picked the Flyers — and Hakstol is a big reason why.