Scott Hartnell: Firing Ron Hextall, Dave Hakstol should ‘wake guys up' for Flyers


Scott Hartnell smiled as he joked about his game.

Nothing to it was pretty or pleasant.

He had a work-for-everything, grind-it-out style that Philly endears itself to because the city can relate. Hartnell couldn't get by on pure talent, so getting up for every game and outworking the opposition became paramount.

"The people of Philadelphia, they appreciate hard work, they love the guys that grind, that go to the hard areas and I made a living in front of the net, taking whacks and crosschecks and making hits, fights, things like that," Hartnell said. "I know that they love those guys and the guys love them right back."

You can say it worked out well as Hartnell, now retired, turned into a player worth being honored, which the Flyers' organization did wonderfully Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

Which brings us to the 2018-19 club.

As speed and skill take over the league, Hartnell's type of game seems to be dying off in today's NHL. However, Hartnell's effort and energy should be as prevalent as ever to the Flyers, trying to make something of this season.

There wasn't nearly enough consistent effort and production through the first two and a half months of 2018-19. Now, Ron Hextall and Dave Hakstol are out of jobs, while the Flyers are hoping new life under general manager Chuck Fletcher and interim head coach Scott Gordon can be a cure.

For the first time since Nov. 5-10, the Flyers have won consecutive games. They've done so by looking like a different team in front of 20-year-old Carter Hart, who won his NHL debut Tuesday and followed it up with a 2-1 victory Thursday over the Predators.

"For me, it's all about competing," Hartnell said Thursday when asked to assess the 2018-19 Flyers. "You look at [Tuesday's] game. It looks like the guys wanted to defend and they wanted to play hard. Obviously, the new goalie Hart was in net as a reason for them to do it, but they shouldn't need a reason to play hard defensively, and that's going to correlate into the neutral zone, into the offense.

"So hopefully they figured it out and they got the right way to play, and unfortunately a couple guys lost their job, but sometimes it takes that much to wake guys up."

The Flyers have turned in complete games their last two times out. They've played with great exertion and execution. They've jumped out to leads and have responded well to goals against. They look like they've reset and are feeding off each other again.

Hartnell loves to see it.

"If I was emotionally involved in the game and I was playing angry or got somebody mad at us, it kind of fueled the whole bench and fueled the team," he said. "You definitely need some guys that have that kind of energy that filters throughout the team, through a building. One play in a game rises everyone out of their seats, 20,000 people screaming for you, good or bad, whatever. It just gets people involved and that's one thing, too, that successful teams do every night — they're involved, they're emotional and they get things done."

Once again, the fun-loving Hartnell can laugh about himself.

"The game is so fast and so skilled and I guess I wasn't fast or wasn't that skilled," he said. 

But …

"Playing 17 years ain't bad," he said.

"The game has changed and it's always going to change. Who knows where it's going to be, the next big change, but it's sure fun to watch on TV, it's fun to be here live watching these guys skate around and hopefully the Flyers can get things going."

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