Sunday night, Pittsburgh Hockey Now reported that Pittsburgh Penguins owner Mario Lemieux was impressed by Ron Hextall and how he quickly rebuilt the Philadelphia Flyers. Despite others outside the organization lobbying for other candidates, Lemieux favored Hextall.
“He likes the way Hextall built Philly back up,” said a source familiar with Penguins ownership’s thinking.
Reports indicate Hextall had a second interview on Monday.
Tuesday afternoon, Sportsnet reporter Elliotte Friedman reported the Penguins have apparently forgone additional second round of interviews and begun negotiations with Hextall.
Ron Hextall is negotiating with PIT to be GM.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) February 9, 2021
Stick tap for Friedman for the scoop.
Hextall, 56, was the Philadelphia GM from May 2014 through November 2018. The long-time Flyers goalie was known for a mean streak on the ice and developing players as an executive, first with the LA Kings then with Philadelphia.
In his four seasons as GM, Hextall’s teams made the playoffs twice, including the 2018 loss to the Penguins in Round One.
However, he was forced out amid reports he clashed with upper management over young goalie Carter Hart. Hextall wanted to slow his promotion to the NHL, while higher-ups in Philadelphia wanted him in the show.
Under Hextall, Philadelphia drafted very well. From 2013-to 2018, the team selected 19 players who eventually made their NHL debut, including 2018 first-round pick Joel Farabee and Morgan Frost.
The pair were acquired first-round picks as Hextall traded forward Brayden Schenn to the St. Louis Blues for a couple of top-round choices.
Ron Hextall has a Stanley Cup ring from his time as the AGM of the LA Kings. He helped develop a host of young players. By comparison, the Penguins drafted just seven players who made their NHL debut during the same time period, and none since 2015.
The Penguins GM job has attractions and some detractions. It will be curious to see if any structural changes are made to the Penguins organization.
Jim Rutherford vacated the Penguins GM job on Jan. 27 in a surprise and abrupt move. Rutherford, whose contract was expiring after the season but was believed to be staying in the position, informed team president David Morehouse on the evening of Jan. 26, then officially resigned the following morning.