Ron Hextall returns to Flyers as assistant GM

Ron Hextall returns to Flyers as assistant GM

July 15, 2013, 4:30 pm
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For those keeping track at home, Ron Hextall is the third former Flyers goalie to return to the organization this summer.
 
In a surprising move, the Flyers announced late Monday that Hextall would be rejoining the organization as assistant general manager and director of hockey operations.

“We are very pleased to welcome back Ron Hextall to our management team,” general manager Paul Holmgren said. “Ron has a wealth of experience in the front office in various capacities which will be a valuable addition to our staff.”

His return obviously makes him Holmgren’s successor at some point. Hextall has made it no secret his goal is to someday be an NHL general manager.

One league source called Hextall "the GM in waiting."

"To me, he's the most highly thought of guy in the league that's not a GM," Holmgren said. "And to add him to our staff is huge."

For Hextall, the move is a lateral one. His contract with the Los Angeles Kings, with whom he also served as assistant general manager, ended in late June. Some shuffling around in the Flyers' front office led to a vacancy here, and Holmgren approached Hextall shortly after the June 30 NHL draft. The timing and destination simply made sense for both sides.

"Obviously I'm excited about it," Hextall said. "Quite frankly, it came together in a very short period of time here. I had a brief conversation with Homer at the draft and then it just kind of steamrolled toward the resolution that happened today. It's obviously a little bittersweet for me, I had a great time in L.A. ... In this decision, I'm sure you guys were going to ask what it was all about. I don't have anything earth shattering except to say it was a gut feeling."

"There were a lot of little things," he added, "... but in the end, I'm following my gut here to what I think is the right move."

Hextall was last with the Flyers from 1999-2006, when he worked first as a scout and later as the team's director of pro hockey personnel. He left for Los Angeles after the 2005-06 season, where he became the vice president and assistant general manager of the Kings. He helped lead that team to the Stanley Cup in 2012.

As a player, Hextall was a fan favorite. He appeared in 489 regular-season games with the Flyers during two separate stints with the team (1986-92; 1994-99), posting a 240-172-58 record and 2.91 goals-against average. He was inducted into the Flyers hall of fame in 2008.
 
But back when Hextall was in the Flyers' front office, Holmgren had been seen as the next in line to get Bob Clarke’s job as GM with Hextall a distant third. When Holmgren took over for the 2006-07 season, Hextall knew he would have to go elsewhere to advance.

He returns now having helped build a Stanley Cup champion team from the bottom up, with "a lot more different ideas than when he left here," Holmgren said.

"They say the more people you work for, the smarter you become," Hextall said. "And I think it's absolutely true."

Obviously, Hextall will be charged with improving the club's mediocre performance in the annual NHL draft. Outside of the first round,the Flyers have been woefully deficient in drafting and developing their own players. On defense alone, they don't have a single drafted blueliner playing regular minutes for them over the past 13 drafts.

Aside from that, Holmgren said, Hextall will have his hands "in everything that's going on, from the minors to scouting to the Flyers."

Hextall expects his responsibilities will be very similar to those he had in L.A.

Along with Hextall's addition, the Flyers moved around some other front-office titles. John Paddock, who had been an assistant GM and then an assistant coach, will become the team's director of player personnel. Chris Pryor, who had been the director of hockey operations, is now the director of scouting. Dave Brown, the former director of pro scouting, becomes the team's head scout.

The title and role of assistant general manager Barry Hanrahan, who manages cap and financial issues, remains unchanged.