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Some Penguins fans are starting to like Ron Hextall as the new general manager because of his history with the Philadelphia Flyers understand the team.
Even so, some of the hiring’s loudest approvals – and the highest praise from Hextall himself – appear to be from Philadelphia.
Although the team he once played for dismissed him in 2018 after just four years as general manager.
Not only are there media types reporting on Hextall in Philly, but Hextall in the PPG Paints Arena as well. But they also advocate the seemingly strange marriage to the freshly inked president of hockey operations Brian Burke.
« It’s remarkable to me. You now have a couple of Clydesdales running the car, » said Al Morganti on Tuesday during a guest appearance on 93.7 The Fans « PM Team ».
Morganti is a Flyers Games analyst and does the pre and post game shows. He has covered sports in Philadelphia for decades on SportsRadio WIP and other outlets and was previously on ESPN hockey shows.
He acknowledged that Hextall and Burke (a former GM in Vancouver, Anaheim and Toronto) have very different leadership styles. Burke is known for his impatient, win-now mentality and for being very quotable with the media.
Hextall quickly built a reputation in Philadelphia for drawing and developing slowly and being reluctant to do « The Big Swing » trades.
In other words, the kind of deals that go on the résumés of his Pittsburgh predecessor Jim Rutherford – and Burke himself.
Hextall is also seen as much more reluctant to the press than either of them.
« He won’t answer much. He likes to have an operation closed to the public, » Morganti said. « It’s difficult in Philadelphia. It can be different (in Pittsburgh). It will surely be jaded because Burke is so up front. Many of those tasks that Ron doesn’t like doing don’t have to be done in Pittsburgh. »
Hextall’s slow and steady mentality may have caused his death in the east. Owners and fans grew impatient to end a Stanley Cup drought that dates back to 1975.
It’s a dry spell, four years before the Pirates World Series hit, if you score at home.
But this long game was a course that the Flyers franchise had apparently set for Hextall since he began his tenure in 2014.
« The Flyers fired Ron Hextall for doing what he promised, » Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Mike Sielski told the PM Team on Tuesday. “He was leading a reconstruction. He took the time to do it. And for a good reason. The franchise was hollowed out over time. And his farm system was sterile and it had to be reset. »
The other weird dynamic is that Burke is known for building heavy, large, and aggressive hockey teams. Or « truculent », as he calls it.
While Hextall’s Flyers team was losing their reputation as « Broad Street Bully » under his surveillance. Ironic for a guy who was the closest thing to a goalkeeping thug we saw, other than Billy Smith.
As ESPN.com tracked: « If you look at the Flyers penalty minutes per game over the past 15 seasons, Hextall’s run from 2014-18 and the three seasons after his sack is in the bottom seven places. »
There is a natural correlation with the league-wide decline in fights and the acceptance of dirty hits in these numbers. But Philadelphia has embraced and embraced this culture more than any other place in the NHL. And the players Hextall brought in accelerated the decline.
As of now, it doesn’t sound like Hextall plans to make any major personality changes in Pittsburgh right now.
« We’ll do everything we can to make this team better, » Hextall told The X Wednesday on 9/10/10. “There are things that we can optimize. But inevitably there will be a crossroads when your top three players are up there. But we will try to stay as competitive as possible. »
During this interview with TribLive’s Mark Madden, Hextall expressed a belief that any concerns about his fit in Pittsburgh – or with Burke – are wrong.
« We will work together. We are a team, ”said Hextall. “We will make decisions. I really like having a man next to me that I pass by. Some guy who sat in the seat. You weren’t in the hot seat until you’re in.
“I like to challenge. Regardless of whether it is an amateur or a professional meeting, I challenge my scouts. And I like it when people challenge me. I am very open to Burkie challenging me. And I’ll challenge him. We’re both competitive. And I think we will have a great relationship. »
How exactly the organizational flowchart works and who is responsible for credit – or more importantly, how trades, signings and picks turn out – is still up for debate.
But if the people in Philadelphia seem to believe that the penguins could do something that couldn’t happen on the turnpike … eh, I’ll take that as a start.
Seth Rorabaugh from TribLive joins me on Thursday’s hockey podcast. We look at Burke and Hextall’s attitudes in terms of immediate steps, long-term team building, goalkeeper views, and organizational structure.
Tim Benz is a contributor to Tribune Review. You can contact Tim at [email protected] or on Twitter. All tweets could be republished. All emails are free to post, unless otherwise noted.
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