As if losing the last five games of their road trip wasn’t bad enough, the Flyers were fined an undisclosed amount by the NHL on Sunday for violating a league travel policy.
In a conference call with reporters, general manager Ron Hextall admitted that he violated the NHL’s collective bargaining agreement because the players requested that the team leave earlier on Dec. 26 so they could get to Nashville and be more rested than if they took a Dec. 27 flight. The Flyers played in Nashville on Dec. 27 and dropped a 4-1 decision against former coach Peter Laviolette.
The league does not allow teams to travel on Dec. 24, 25, or 26. A Flyers spokesman said last month the team would head to Nashville at 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 27 to avoid violating the agreement. The plane reportedly left at 8:24 p.m. on Dec. 26.
The players apparently talked Hextall into taking an earlier flight.
“We were aware of the rule and certainly accept the league’s decision,” said Hextall, who declined to disclose the amount of the fine. “I was approached by the players, and after giving it some thought, it was pretty hard not to allow the best possible chance to win the game, given the fact they have shown the commitment that they want to do something that is best for the hockey club. . . .
“In the end, we were willing to accept the consequences.”
Ironically, the Flyers won the first three games of the trip before the three-day holiday break, then lost the last five games (0-4-1) beginning with the loss in Nashville.
Hextall said if the Flyers traveled early on Dec. 27, they would have been more tired when they played in Nashville later that night.
If the Flyers had played somewhere closer, like Boston or New York, they would have opted to travel the same day they played, Hextall said.
The Flyers started the trip eight points out of a playoff spot and ended it 10 points behind.
Outscored by 19-9 during their five-game losing streak, the Flyers start a four-game homestand Tuesday against Ottawa, followed by contests against Washington, Boston, and Tampa Bay.
This article was republished with permission from the original author, Sam Carchidi, and the original publisher, The Philadelphia Inquirer.