(Updated: 12:40 p.m.)
Ed Snider wasn’t kidding last week when he said that Ron Hextall would eventually assume the title of Flyers general manager.
He said it didn’t have to be “tomorrow.”
True, it was this week.
Hextall on Wednesday morning replaced Paul Holmgren as Flyers general manager. Holmgren was moved to team president.
“I'm extremely excited about this new opportunity to manage the Philadelphia Flyers,” Hextall said. “I look forward to working closely with Paul in our new hockey structure and working towards our ultimate goal of winning the Stanley Cup.”
The title of team president formerly belonged to Peter Luukko, who resigned last December.
“Over the past eight seasons, Paul has done an outstanding job,” Snider said in a statement. “He picked up the pieces of our disastrous season in 2006 and immediately made changes that took us to the Conference Finals the very next year, and we have consistently been in contention ever since. He’s been a Flyer for 35 years and has earned the opportunity to run our entire organization.
“Ron is one of the league’s bright young stars on the management side, and we’re very fortunate to have him. He’s had success in Los Angeles and will now put that experience to work for us as general manager. We all remember the enthusiasm, work ethic and personality he had as a player, and we’re excited to watch him bring those qualities to building a team that will contend for the Stanley Cup.”
It was Holmgren who brought Hextall back into the organization last summer as assistant general manager and director of hockey operations.
Holmgren said he wanted to learn and experience more of the business operations of a team president.
“I am very excited to get started in this new role and would like to thank Mr. Snider for this opportunity,” Holmgren said. “I look forward to working closely with Mr. Snider, (Comcast-Spectacor President) Dave Scott, (Comcast-Spectacor Chief Financial Officer) Gary Rostick and (Flyers Chief Operating Officer) Shawn Tilger, as well as Ron, in unifying the business side with the hockey side and pushing the Flyers to new levels both on the ice and off.”
During his press conference, Holmgren said that “all hockey decisions are Hexy’s,” and he is there to advise make sure it works financially, which was part of Luukko’s duties, as well.
Hextall, who reigned in goal for the Flyers through the mid-1980s and into the late 1990s, was assistant general manager to Dean Lombardi in Los Angeles for seven years and partially responsible for helping secure key players who helped the Kings win the Stanley Cup in 2012.
Hextall, 50, was a scout and hockey personnel executive for seven years with the Flyers after he retired in 1999. He then spent an equal number of years toiling under Lombardi, who was a successful GM in San Jose before coming to Los Angeles.
The 58-year-old Holmgren had succeeded Bob Clarke in October 2006 when the latter re-signed. He was responsible for the club’s turnaround from that non-playoff season and began the rebuilding process with a series of deals that brought the club Braydon Coburn, Kimmo Timonen and Scott Hartnell.
After failing to qualify for the playoffs the 2006-07 season, the turnaround, which also included promoting Claude Giroux to the Flyers roster, saw the team advance to the Eastern Conference finals the following season.
Holmgren has had a number of good and bad deals. Perhaps the best, two recent deals were the acquisition of goalie Steve Mason from Columbus and Andrew MacDonald from the Islanders.
The acquisition of Chris Pronger would have been one of the best all-time were it not for the defenseman ultimately succumbing to post-concussion syndrome.
Both those deals strengthened the Flyers in goal and on defense.
A number of other recent acquisitions – Ilya Bryzgalov, Vinny Lecavalier and Steve Downie - haven’t panned out.
Holmgren often gave out long-term deals with severe cap consequences, as well as “no-trade” and “no movement” clauses which handicapped the Flyers in moving forward.