Flyers And Penguins Finally Agree On Something: Ron Hextall Isn’t The Best GM

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Who knows what the future holds for Ron Hextall as far as his front office career is concerned, but it’s safe to say it won’t be in the Keystone State.

If I could extend an olive branch to unite Flyers and Penguins fans, it’s this: Ron Hextall isn’t a very good GM.

That’s how you build bridges…

On Friday, the Pittsburgh Penguins announced some major changed. Hextall, assistant GM Chris Pryor and president of hockey operations Brian Burke were all fired.

It was nice of the team to let three finish out the season, but this move was inevitable. The Pens hired Burke and Hextall at the same time back in the spring of 2021.

The timing of that is interesting because in November of that year, Fenway Sports Group became the team’s majority owner. That means that the Burke-Hextall brain trust was not their choice.

Reading between the lines, that front office group may have been on borrowed time from that point forward.

Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, and Kris Letang can all still play at a high level, but they’re not getting any younger. (Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Wasting A Season For The Pens Aging Core Is A No-No

Oh well, things went alright in 2021-22. Goof, but not great. The Pens finished third in the Metropolitan Division but were eliminated after their first-round series with the Rangers went the distance.

This year, the Pens spent most of the season either clinging to a wild card spot or completely out of the playoff picture. The team nearly made the playoffs thanks to a late surge, but it wasn’t enough, and it definitely wasn’t enough to save Hextall, Burke, and Pryor.

It may seem like a short leash, but Pittsburgh’s window is closing. The team’s core of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang is still playing at a high level, but they’re not getting any younger. At this point in their careers, the team can’t afford to waste what few postseasons they may have left.

Plus, they weren’t hired by the new owners who can now put whoever they want in their place.

Interestingly, head coach Mike Sullivan doesn’t appear to be on the hot seat at all. Not only is he sticking with the team, but he’s also part of the group that will handle the team’s hockey operations until the new brass is hired.

Winning a couple of Cups will usually give you a bit of leeway.

Former Flyers and Penguions general manager Ron Hextall has been criticized for making questionable trade decisions and being too conservative with prospects. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Hextall Brought Some Of His Bad Habits With Him To Western Pennsylvania

Ron Hextall is a bonafide Philadelphia Flyers legend… on the ice. No other goalie could score or punch like him, although one (Bernie Parent) was better at winning Stanley Cups.

In the front office… not quite so much.

When the Flyers decided to part ways with Hextall in 2018, fans had grown tired of his head-scratching trades and conservative handling of prospects.

He wasn’t in Pittsburgh long enough to get overly conservative with any of his hand-picked prospects. Having said that, the strange trades sure did happen. At this year’s deadline, Hextall was lambasted for adding Mikael Granlund, Nick Bonino, and Dmitry Kulikov. These were players that didn’t really fix any of the Pens’ needs.

All three went on to underperform or missed time with injury. That’s not Hextall’s fault but certainly didn’t help his cause.

While his firing isn’t shocking, I think there’s a team out there who might be willing to bring Hextall aboard. The same can be said for Burke, who has been hired and fired plenty of times.

All I ask is that that team not be the Flyers. We’ve been through enough.

Follow on Twitter: @Matt_Reigle

Written by Matt Reigle

Matt is a University of Central Florida graduate and a long-suffering Philadelphia Flyers fan living in Orlando, Florida. He can usually be heard playing guitar, shoe-horning obscure quotes from The Simpsons into conversations, or giving dissertations to captive audiences on why Iron Maiden is the greatest band of all time.

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