Last night, the Philadelphia Flyers announced that former goaltender Ron Hextall was rejoining the organization as the assistant general manager and director of hockey operations. Hextall had previously been with the Los Angeles Kings also as the assistant general manager since 2006.
Hextall, who was a fan favorite during his two tenures with the Flyers, comes back as a different executive than he was as a player. He became revered in Philadelphia for his tenaciousness, ferocity and most importantly, his ability to win hockey games. Hextall still holds the team record in wins with 240. Not to mention, he is the first goalie to score a goal in both an official NHL regular season game and a playoff game.
Now though, Hextall finally won as a front office member what he could not as player — the Stanley Cup with the Kings in 2012. This move undoubtedly makes Hextall the heir apparent to current General Manager Paul Holmgren. Holmgren is already under pressure to produce this season, so if the Flyers get off to a slow start, Hextall may be thrust into the role quicker than he thinks.
While Hextall will certainly keep to his motto of, “Where the love of winning, is secondary only to the hatred of losing,” don’t expect him to have losses of composure in his current role as he did when he was playing. Just because Sean Couturier has one poor game does not mean that Hextall is going to barge into Holmgren’s office and demand the Flyers trade Couturier.
This is a man who, with Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi, helped to patiently build a juggernaut of player personnel. While the Kings ironically have many former Flyers in their organization on the ice and in the front office, Hextall has helped assemble top-tier talent that will last the Kings for the next decade. The Kings are a complete-facet team. They have speed, skill, physicality, grit and one of, if not the best, goalie in the league in Jonathan Quick.
It will be 40 years this season since the Flyers won their first Stanley Cup, and 39 since their last. The Flyers and their fans can only hope that Hextall repeats his magic here as he did in Los Angeles.