Posts Tagged ‘Ron Hextall’

Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Ron Hextall wants to find a way to have Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang stay with the club for the rest of their careers.

“In a perfect world (Malkin) retires a Penguin,” Hextall said Monday. “And I think Tanger’s the same.”

In a perfect world, anyway.

The NHL in the salary-cap era is hardly that.

Perhaps that’s why, when Hextall was asked what was missing this season from a group that let a 3-1 lead slip a way in a first-round loss to the New York Rangers, he joked “a little more cap space would be great.”

He’s not getting it.

The Penguins have habitually spent up to the cap limit during the hugely successful era led by Malkin, Letang and longtime captain Sidney Crosby. That “spend to win now” approach is not going to change with Fenway Sports Group now signing the checks after buying the club from Ron Burkle and Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux last fall.

The question, however, is how much money the Penguins are willing to offer a pair of 35-year-old franchise icons who are less than two months away from entering free agency for the first time.

Letang hardly appears to have lost a step. The defenseman is coming off a season in which he collected a career-high 68 points while playing a bit more responsibly in his own end. He averaged a staggering 25:47 of ice time and said last week he’d like to play at least five more seasons.

Letang also is finishing a contract that paid him $7.25 million a season. Considering his fitness level and his production, it’s reasonable to think he’d command a bit of a raise on the open market, though Letang said last week his preference would be to find a way to stay in Pittsburgh.

Malkin feels likewise, but his situation is thornier. He said “good players sign good contracts” last week and while he scored 20 goals this season despite missing nearly half of the year while recovering from a torn ACL in his right knee, he was not particularly effective in 5-on-5 situations while commanding $9.5 million. He also turns 36 in July and has missed at least 10 games due to injuries nine times in his last 10 seasons.

Hextall stressed he would not provide details on the nature of the team’s talks with Malkin and Letang, but hinted he’s not concerned about their age.

“They’re both great athletes,” he said. “They both have been here a long time. They’re both performing at a high level right now. We’d certainly like to have them in the mix come September.”

Malkin and Letang’s respective statuses are the two biggest pieces of a very unwieldy puzzle Hextall has to piece together over the summer. Forwards Evan Rodrigues, Brian Boyle, Rickard Rickell and backup goaltender Casey DeSmith are set to become free agents while forwards Danton Heinen and the enigmatic Kasperi Kapanen are restricted free agents.

Hextall did lock down one piece of the puzzle, signing forward Bryan Rust to a six-year deal over the weekend that will keep the versatile two-time Stanley Cup winner in the fold through 2028. Rust, who had 24 goals and 34 assists this season, underwent what Hextall called a minor procedure on one of his knees recently but should be ready well ahead of training camp.

By then Hextall will have clarity on his team’s immediate future. He believes he has it on its immediate past, praising the Penguins for their resiliency during an eventful season that included extended absences by Crosby and Malkin and a COVID-19 outbreak. Pittsburgh managed to extend its playoff streak to 16 straight years, the longest active streak in major North American professional sports.

Yet the Penguins also haven’t made it out of the first round since 2018. That’s not the standard for a team that plays in an arena with five Stanley Cup banners hanging from the rafters.

Six months into FSG’s tenure, there appears to be no hurry to make drastic changes, including in the front office. Hextall, who took over in February 2021 after Jim Rutherford’s abrupt resignation, appears as if he will get a chance to guide the team through at least the early stages of the twilight of Crosby’s Hall of Fame career.

“Everything is good,” Hextall said. “(Fenway Sports Group is) totally committed to winning. … We’ve got some things that we’re looking at in terms of adding to staff and stuff. We’re moving along.”

Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Ron Hextall has full confidence in his goalies entering next season and, specifically, expects starter Tristan Jarry to rebound.

“When you’re a goaltender, and I’ve lived it, there’s disappointments that you have to get over and you have to bounce back from,” Hextall said Thursday, according to NHL.com’s Wes Crosby. “I feel strongly that (Jarry is) going to bounce back and be a very good goaltender for us throughout the entire year.”

Jarry, 26, managed a .909 save percentage and 2.75 goals-against average in 39 games last season, his first campaign as the full-time starter following Matt Murray‘s departure. Jarry struggled mightily during the postseason, posting an .888 save percentage and league-worst minus-5.72 goals saved above average in six games.

In 107 career contests, Jarry owns a .911 save percentage and 2.70 goals-against average.

The Penguins fired goalie coach Mike Buckley on Wednesday and appointed development coach Andy Chiodo to the position. Hextall believes Chiodo will be able to help Jarry and teammate Casey DeSmith make significant strides in all aspects of the game.

“Andy’s job now is, predominantly, the two guys on the big team,” Hextall said. “So, hopefully, we can make some little tweaks. The mental side of the game for a goaltender is a huge part of it. Andy is well aware of that.”

DeSmith, who was unavailable during the playoffs due to injury, put up a .912 save percentage and 2.54 goals-against average in 20 games. He’s expected to be ready for the start of the 2021-22 campaign after undergoing core muscle surgery early in the offseason.

Ron Hextall doesn’t sound like someone who’s ready to hit the reset button.

The Pittsburgh Penguins general manager said Wednesday he believes in the team’s core of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang and is in no hurry to move on to the franchise’s next chapter.

The East Division champions are smarting from a third straight first-round playoff exit — this time a six-game loss to the New York Islanders — but Hextall will spend his first offseason with the team retooling around Crosby, Malkin, and Letang rather than rebuilding.

“We see a future with this core,” Hextall said. “These guys have been here a long time. We had a good year. It certainly didn’t give me pause to think about what we should do with this core. It certainly didn’t give me pause to think about what we should do with this core.”

Hextall added he expects to have all three back next season “for sure.” The same apparently goes for goaltender Tristan Jarry.

Hextall, hired in February after Jim Rutherford’s abrupt resignation, expressed confidence in Jarry despite Jarry’s shaky playoff performance. Jarry’s ill-advised outlet pass in Game 5 led directly to Josh Bailey’s game-winning overtime goal. He followed it up by allowing five goals in Game 6 as Pittsburgh’s season came to an abrupt halt.

“You saw what happened in Game 5, an unfortunate error there. And then Game 6 wasn’t the best. But I don’t think we would have been where we were without Tristan and we all have to remember Tristan is a young player,” he said. “He’s going to learn from this and he’s going to come back better in September.”

As will coach Mike Sullivan. Hextall said he and president of hockey operations Brian Burke are in sync with the two-time Stanley Cup winner. Sullivan emphasizes speed and skill in his approach, something Hextall doesn’t plan to get away from while allowing the Penguins might benefit a bit from a bigger lineup.

“Of course we’d like to add a little bit of size, a little bit of toughness. Yes, it would be nice,” Hextall said. “But there’s not a lot out there. We’ll look at what’s there this summer and we’ll make adjustments. But if we go into next season with this group we’re comfortable.”

That includes focusing on players who can make an immediate impact with Crosby, Malkin, and Letang all in their mid-30s. Hextall stressed the team remains in “win-now” mode heading into 2021-22. Pittsburgh’s streak of 15 consecutive postseason berths is the longest active streak in major North American professional sports.

“We’re comfortable with our team,” Hextall said. “We had a real good regular season and played well in the playoffs. That doesn’t mean we won’t look to get better. You always look to get better. If we can find ways to tweak things and get better, we will.”

Mario Lemieux has a long memory.

The Pittsburgh Penguins co-owner may have hired Ron Hextall as the club’s next general manager, but he wasn’t going to let the 56-year-old forget an incident that landed Lemieux a date with the dentist decades ago.

“It was hard when Mario was on the second interview with me there, and we were kinda small talking at the start, and he reminded me that I knocked four of his teeth out on a follow-through,” Hextall told reporters on Thursday.

“So I was like, ‘Oh boy, this hasn’t started out very well.'”

The former Philadelphia Flyers netminder played 11 seasons over two separate tenures with the club. The Flyers were division rivals with Lemieux’s Penguins throughout the 1980s and 90s and faced off in several heated postseason series.

Hextall quipped the Hall of Fame pivot got his revenge on the scoreboard.

“I think he probably lit me up for seven or eight points one night, so he certainly got me back.”

On Tuesday, Hextall replaced former Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford, who stepped down due to personal reasons. Pittsburgh also hired Brian Burke as president of hockey operations.

The Pittsburgh Penguins hired Ron Hextall as the team’s general manager and also named Brian Burke the team’s president of hockey operations, the club announced Tuesday.

Hextall was among a number of candidates vying for the position and was reportedly deemed a front-runner for the role on Tuesday morning.

An NHL veteran of 13 seasons as a goaltender, Hextall has been in various management roles over the past 20 years. He was general manager of the Philadelphia Flyers from 2014-18 and has been an advisor to the Los Angeles Kings’ hockey operations department since September 2019.

Burke’s name wasn’t involved throughout the searching process, but he has vast experience as an NHL executive. He’s had stints as general manager with the Anaheim Ducks, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Hartford Whalers/Vancouver Canucks, and was most recently president of hockey operations with the Calgary Flames from 2013-18.

After spending the last couple of years as an analyst with Sportsnet, Burke believed the opportunity to join a franchise like the Penguins was too good to pass up.

“To me, Pittsburgh is a take-your-breath-away destination for any GM or president of hockey ops,” Burke said. “I’m so excited for the opportunity. The Penguins are a storied franchise with outstanding ownership in Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle, and Pittsburgh is just a great hockey city. Ron Hextall and I are very fortunate. We can’t wait to get started.”

While serving as Maple Leafs GM in 2012, Burke took aim at those crediting the Penguins for building a perennially competitive team with high draft picks.

“What’s the Pittsburgh model? They got a lottery. They won a goddamn lottery and they got the best player in the game (Sidney Crosby),” Burke said at the time. “Is that available to me? Should we do that? Should we ask the league to have a lottery this year, and maybe we pick first? Pittsburgh model, my ass.”

On Tuesday, Burke again harkened back to the 2005 draft, in which his Ducks chose Bobby Ryan with the second overall pick right after the Penguins took Crosby.

Patrik Allvin, who became interim general manager after Jim Rutherford resigned last month, will resume his role as assistant general manager. In their new roles, Hextall will oversee the Penguins’ day-to-day hockey operations, reporting to Burke as his primary advisor. Burke will report to Morehouse.

The Pittsburgh Penguins‘ search for a new general manager has begun with no shortage of names eyeing the job.

Twenty candidates contacted the club to express interest in the position as of Thursday afternoon, TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reported on the latest edition of “Insider Trading.”

Jason Botterill, Chris Drury, Ron Hextall, Mark Hunter, Tom Fitzgerald, Peter Chiarelli, Scott Mellanby, Mike Gillis, Laurence Gilman, John Ferguson Jr., and Mike Futa are all on the Penguins’ radar, according to LeBrun.

Patrik Allvin, the Penguins’ interim general manager, will reportedly get the first interview. Pittsburgh promoted him to the role when longtime GM Jim Rutherford resigned Wednesday for personal reasons.

Pittsburgh is aiming to have a new GM in place within two-to-three weeks, LeBrun added.

Fitzgerald is the current general manager of the New Jersey Devils. Chiarelli formerly held the same role with the Boston Bruins and Edmonton Oilers, while Hextall served as GM of the Philadelphia Flyers from 2014-18. Hextall is currently a hockey operations advisor for the Los Angeles Kings and served as their assistant GM from 2006-13.

Chiarelli and Hextall reportedly interviewed for the Minnesota Wild’s GM vacancy in 2019 before the team hired Bill Guerin.

Rutherford began his tenure as Penguins GM in 2014, helping the team win the Stanley Cup in 2016 and 2017. He previously spent 20 years with the Carolina Hurricanes/Hartford Whalers franchise, overseeing the Hurricanes’ title run in 2006.

The Los Angeles Kings have hired former Philadelphia Flyers general manager Ron Hextall as a part-time advisor to their hockey operations department, the team announced Wednesday, according to The Fourth Period’s Dennis Bernstein.

Hextall was GM of the Flyers from 2013 until he was relieved of his duties last November.

The move marks a homecoming of sorts for Hextall. He was assistant GM of the Kings from 2006 to 2013, helping Los Angles win its first Stanley Cup in 2012.

Before his management career, Hextall played 13 years in the NHL as a goaltender, primarily with the Flyers. He won both the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goaltender and the Conn Smythe Award as playoff MVP in his rookie year, despite the fact that Philadelphia was edged by the dynasty Edmonton Oilers in the 1987 Stanley Cup Final.

Ron Hextall didn’t see it coming.

Fired by the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday, to say the former general manager was caught off guard by his dismissal may be an understatement.

“I was shocked,” Hextall told Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “I was hoping to finish my career here.”

Hextall had been on the job since 2014, a tenure which saw him reshape the team’s salary cap situation and twice qualify for the playoffs.

He believes internal pressure to take the team to the next level – before it was ready – was ultimately his undoing. The team described Hextall’s approach as “unyielding” upon his dismissal.

“I didn’t feel we were at go-time,” Hextall added. “I didn’t feel (like) the Winnipegs and Nashvilles and the Tampas, that we were quite there.”

While Hextall was methodical in his attempt to rebuild the Flyers, he rejected the idea that he didn’t look at bigger moves to help the team climb the ladder. In fact, those discussions were happening as recently as the days leading up to his firing.

“Was I open to moving prospects and/or young players who could help us this season and beyond? Absolutely,” Hextall said. “We had some talks in the works at the time. Whether something would have happened, I don’t know. I can assure you I was being aggressive.”

With Hextall ousted, the Flyers have begun an extensive search to find his replacement. Former GMs Chuck Fletcher, Ron Francis, and Dave Nonis are reportedly among the candidates.

The Philadelphia Flyers fired executive vice president and general manager Ron Hextall on Monday, the team announced.

Flyers president Paul Holmgren cited philosophical differences as the main reason for the decision.

“We thank Ron for his many significant contributions, but it has become clear that we no longer share the same philosophical approach concerning the direction of the team,” Holmgren said in a statement. “… We feel it’s in the organization’s best interests to make a change, effective immediately. I have already begun a process to identify and select our next general manager.”

The Flyers sit fourth-last in the Eastern Conference and have allowed the third-most goals against in the league.

Hextall, a former netminder, was unable to address the club’s goaltending woes. Brian Elliott (14 games), Calvin Pickard (11 games), Anthony StolarzAlex Lyon, and Michal Neuvirth (one game apiece) have combined for an .887 save percentage and a 3.35 goals-against average this season.

Hextall remained loyal to head coach Dave Hakstol, despite “Fire Hakstol!” chants last season and the team’s poor start to the 2018-19 campaign.

Hextall had been Flyers GM since May 7, 2014. Philadelphia made the playoffs twice during his tenure but the team was ousted in the first round each time.

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Despite missing the playoffs in three of the last five seasons, the Philadelphia Flyers are not in rebuild mode – if you ask general manager Ron Hextall, anyway.

Yes, the Flyers did pick with the second overall selection in this year’s draft, but that was mostly due to a stroke of good luck, as the Flyers were a competitive team that finished only seven points short of the final Eastern Conference playoff spot. A result that Hextall feels is a strong indication of the direction his club is going.

“You’re not rebuilding when you’re competitive,” Hextall said, according to Sam Carchidi of Philly.com. “A rebuild, to me, is when you go to the bottom and you pick high, high, high – and essentially, you’re not trying that hard to win. That’s not in our DNA. We want to win. We want to win as many games as possible.”

“We’re not going to go to the bottom of the league and pick first overall for four or five years. That’s no way to build culture. Our vision was to stay competitive, and build, and get younger – and that’s exactly what we’re doing.”

Landing Nolan Patrick with the second overall pick obviously goes a long way to ensuring that vision come to fruition, but, Hextall realizes that at the end of the day, execution on the ice is all that matters.

“I can sit here and tell you 85 points, 105 points, but it really doesn’t mean anything,” said Hextall. “What’s (important) is when our team starts the season and we go do it. Do we expect to make the playoffs? Of course we expect to make the playoffs.”

” … I’m comfortable saying we expect to make the playoffs because our team on paper is good enough to make the playoffs.”

The Flyers drop the puck on their 2017-18 season Oct. 4 in San Jose.