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Flyers Sr. Advisor Bobby Clarke Rips Ron Hextall, ‘He Alienated Everybody’

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NHL Trade, Pittsburgh Penguins, Ron Hextall

Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ron Hextall’s patient approach and ability to rebuild are primary reasons that attracted the Penguins ownership to the GM. Hextall was the general manager of the Philadelphia Flyers from 2014 through 2018. His tenure ended in controversy when friction with upper management over the development of then-prospect goalie Carter Hart proved a flashpoint that cost Hextall his job.

The Penguins scooped up Hextall on Feb. 9, 2021, as their new GM to replace Jim Rutherford, who abruptly resigned the month before. The team also named Brian Burke as the president of hockey operations, too.

Hextall has a reputation as a good talent evaluator, but not everyone had good things to say about Hextall’s performance or how he handled the Flyers GM gig. Flyers icon and executive VP Bobby Clarke took Hextall to the woodshed on Tuesday’s Cam and Strick podcast, which is hosted by former NHL’er Cam Janssen and reporter Andy Strickland.

The highlights include, “he alienated everybody right away,” and “none of the scouts wanted Nolan Patrick. They wanted (Cale) Makar.”

In hindsight, Makar would be the right pick in the 2018 NHL Draft as he has become one of the elite talents in the NHL and perhaps the most talented defenseman on the planet.

Patrick flopped in Philadelphia, and they traded him last summer to the Vegas Golden Knights for fellow faded prospect Cody Glass. Patrick has 31 goals and 73 points in 206 NHL games.

Hextall was also a Flyers icon. He was the Flyers starting goaltender from 1986-1992, and his fiery demeanor earned him a spot among all-time fan favorites. The Flyers also went to the Stanley Cup Final in 1987.

For Clarke, however, there may be some lingering hard feelings over Hextall’s Philadelphia management tenure. Clarke hesitated before diving into his unhappiness over Hextall’s performance.

“We remained friends, but he alienated everybody, right away. Shut his door. He locked the doors. He was the boss and nobody else was part of it,” Clarke said before getting in the 2018 Draft as well as the controversial trade of Brayden Schenn.

“We get the second pick in the draft, and we end up drafting Nolan Patrick. None of our scouts wanted Nolan Patrick. I know where Patrick should have gone after his performances in Brandon (WHL), and he’s a pretty good player, but..(scouts) wanted Makar. Of course, he went next (actually, two picks later). Now, he’s a superstar. Patrick hasn’t played… but Hextall made that choice himself. And there were other choices that were made in our draft–We’re paying for it. Now we’ve got two or three first-round picks that are never going to play.”

Ouch.

“That’s why we’re struggling. Hexy made some huge mistakes,” Clarke concluded.

Those picks Clarke referenced were 2018 pick Jay O’Brien (19th overall. 0 NHL games but playing well at Boston U.). Promising 2017 pick Morgan Frost (27th overall) has played 38 games over three seasons but 2016 pick German Rubstov (22nd) has played just four NHL games.

In fairness, the three first-round picks before that were Travis Sanheim (2014, 17th overall), Ivan Provorov (2015, 7th), and Travis Konecny (2015, 24th). Hextall also drafted Joel Farabee with the 14th pick in the 2018 draft. Those four turned out pretty well for the Flyers.

Clarke continued his criticism of Hextall’s operating procedure regarding the Brayden Schenn trade in 2017. The Flyers received a first-round pick and Jori Lehtora.

Clarke omitted that first-round pick became Joel Farabee.

Hextall conducted the Pittsburgh Penguins 2021 Draft, but the Penguins previously traded multiple picks, including their first, third, fourth, and sixth-round picks.

Clarke did have some praise for Hextall, too. Clarke was the Philadelphia Flyers GM from 1984 through 1990 and again from 1994 through 2006, and he praised Hextall, the player.

“I loved (his fiery nature). I loved Hextall. From the time he got there…I signed him to his first contract…he was just incredibly good…,” Clarke said.

One of Hextall’s most famous moments was in the 1989 Patrick Division playoffs when he chased Pittsburgh Penguins winger Robby Brown because of an excessive celebration.

Clarke told the inside stories on Eric Lindros, also put the boots to Mike Keenan, and had great things to say about Craig Berube and the backstory of Hextall’s playing days, too.

You can hear the full podcast–always a lot of fun, though not always safe for work.

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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Axel
Axel
10 months ago

Clarke traded Patrick Sharp to Chicago for a Bum and Justin Williams to Carolina for a chain smoker! Zero Stanley Cups for The trading for old players GM Bob Clarke.
The Flyers did not let Hexy finish the job in Philly. He was building the Flyers with youth and draft picks. Look at the Flyer GM now! He is terrible!
Happy Hexy is with a real Hockey Team! The Flyers tore down Kate Smith’s statue! Are you kidding me? Concast Fithydelfia Flyers!

Luiz Mello
Luiz Mello
10 months ago

If Philadelphia has bad things to say about Hextall, he instantly became a better hockey manager and general human being to me! I’m glad we have him.

Katz
Katz
10 months ago

Who knew Hextall is a culinary officianado?

Donny D
Donny D
10 months ago

Bobby Clarke just got raked over the coals on the NHL network. Flyers have done nothing but get older and worse since Hexty left.

Gary Mengle
Gary Mengle
10 months ago

It sounds like executive Vice President Bobbie Clarke, my favorite Flyer of all time, is crying sour grapes, doesn’t he remember when he was general manager and didn’t do any better, he also should remember that he was FIRED by Jay Snyder, he his showing no class!
I believe that the Flyers organization hanging on to their past has become their biggest detriment to moving forward! Dave Scott, CEO of Comcast better do SOMETHING FAST or they will NEVER recover from their ineptitude!

Mark Fisher
Mark Fisher
10 months ago

I don’t recall the Flyers winning Cups in either of Clarke’s two stints as GM.

Big B
Big B
10 months ago

We remained friends, but he alienated everybody, right away. Shut his door. He locked the doors. He was the boss and nobody else was part of it,” A.K.A. How dare Hextall think he is the GM?.I remember the hockey insiders saying the Flyers so called brain trust were upset that they had lost their power and Paul Homlgren still wanted to wield all the power. The same thing happened when Pat Lafontaine quit the GM job very quickly with the Isles as he found out he really never had the power of a true GM. Keenan quit the Hawks for… Read more »

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[…] the reality of the comments was immediately evident, too. Ron Hextall didn’t consult Bobby Clarke, which was the great sin. The rumors were that Flyers president and […]