A few weeks ago, Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford resigned suddenly, leaving the Penguins with a position to fill. They would be big shoes to fill too, as Rutherford is a two-time Stanley Cup winner with the team, has won the Stanley Cup three times as a GM, and is a Hockey Hall of Famer.
It appears that the Penguins are closing in on his replacement, and it’s one very familiar to Flyers fans. Former Flyers GM Ron Hextall is about to get back in the GM chair, as he is reportedly in negotiations with the Penguins to become their next GM, according to TSN’s Frank Seravalli.
Hextall’s tenure as Flyers GM and his departure were certainly highly-profiled. He spent several years focusing on the rebuilding of the prospect and minor-league systems, evident by several current Flyers on the roster like Ivan Provorov, Travis Konecny, Carter Hart and Joel Farabee. But Hextall’s departure was marred by his commitment to his head coaching choice, Dave Hakstol. It was reported that Hextall was instructed that a change needed to be made and to fire Hakstol back in November of 2018. Hextall did not take this action, and he was subsequently let go, saying days later that he never say it coming.
Since then, Hextall returned to Los Angeles, where he won two Stanley Cups as an assistant GM, as a senior advisor, waiting for the next opportunity to arise. When the Penguins job opened up, many believed it would be a fit.
It will certainly be interesting to see how Hextall approaches the job. The Penguins have been known to be aggressive with the NHL club as contenders, given that Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are the centerpieces. As they continue to approach the twilight of their careers, how will the Penguins address that and will they focus more on building a future for the next generation or trying to squeeze more out of the core that is currently there?
That is what Hextall will have to navigate. His track record shows he can be frugal in earning draft picks and making selections, but struggled with his evaluation and management at the NHL level. In some cases, the move from the first leading management job to the second can be a learning experience and change your mindset and tendencies, and that could certainly happen here.
Regardless of how Hextall approaches the job, it will certainly be strange to see him associated with the cross-state rivals, both given his history with the Flyers as GM and his playing career.