Updated: 9 p.m.
When Paul Holmgren drafted defensive prospect Nick Luukko in 2010, his boss had serious misgivings.
“I didn’t want people to think we were drafting him because he was my son and I told Paul that,” said Peter Luukko, then president of the Flyers.
Luukko’s son remains in the organization, though several steps below a number of other defensive prospects slotted for the NHL.
Brett Hextall has been in the AHL for a while now. And when his contract was up this summer, he had offers.
The Flyers' scouting department always liked him. But Ron Hextall, who succeeded Holmgren as GM last season, felt much like Luukko. Nepotism can be dangerous.
With the training camp less than a month away and Brett Hetxall still unsigned, the Flyers penned the 26-year-old undersized right winger to an AHL-only deal with the Phantoms on Monday afternoon.
“I thought long and hard about this,” Ron Hextall said. “If his name wasn’t Hextall it would have been done a long time ago. I went through a process here, yeah.”
Brett represents the fourth generation of Hextall’s in hockey -- Bryan Sr., Bryan Jr., and Ron preceded him. Bryan Sr. is Brett’s great grandfather.
He will be the first Hextall with a Flyers' affiliate since his father played in goal more than 15 years ago.
“He plays hard and he had plays with a lot of sandpaper and we wanted some help on the right side,” Ron Hextall said. “Our left side is a little more full.”
A sixth-round draft pick from Phoenix in 2008, Brett Hextall spent last season with Portland in the AHL. He had a career-high 11 goals and 23 points, along with 83 penalty minutes in 59 games. There’s the grit part.
He also played collegiate hockey at North Dakota with Flyers call-up, Chris VandeVelde.
Ron Hextall has made a lot of changes on the Phantoms, who are moving from Glens Falls to Lehigh Valley this season, adding a number of players, including former Flyer Darroll Powe, plus forwards Andrew Gordon, Zack Sortini, Blair Jones, Ryan White and goalie Martin Ouellette.
It’s a sweeping makeover of the Flyers’ minor league affiliate.
“We needed a little bit of a culture change,” Ron Hextall said. “I went up there and felt there was a certain amount of staleness. This year, with moving into a new building, a new locker room, a training room and weight room, everything is going to be great there, I felt we needed some change and that is what we did –- we changed things.
“Glens Falls is a nice, little town, but the facilities there are not up to par and there was a feeling that I didn’t like. I had to change some things and that is what we did. One of the things Brett brings to us is some sandpaper. We needed it.”
Flyers prospects and rookie camp opens on Sept. 15 at Voorhees. Full training camp opens on Sept. 18.