In case you missed the news earlier this week, the Pittsburgh Penguins announced the hiring of former Philadelphia Flyers legend Ron Hextall as their new general manager, replacing Jim Rutherford after his abrupt resignation earlier this month. The Penguins also hired longtime NHL executive Brian Burke as President of Hockey Operations.
What did not go reported at the time of Hextall’s hiring though was the fact that he officially turned down a job offer from the Seattle Kraken to join the expansion franchise as an assistant GM under Ron Francis.
From NHL insider Elliotte Friedman’s latest 31 Thoughts column for Sportsnet:
Hextall had the opportunity for an assistant GM role in Seattle. He declined because he wanted to be a GM. Score one for betting on yourself.
Interesting. While you have to imagine that the idea of shaping a franchise from the ground up was appealing for Hextall, there’s nothing quite like the GM job. Who knows what the working arrangement would be in Seattle for Hextall as Francis’ assistant? In Pittsburgh though, Hextall gets complete control over his team. There’s something to be said for that.
Friedman also reports that competition was tight for the Penguins’ job before Hextall scored the gig with John Ferguson Jr. Mike Futa and Mark Hunter among others all vying for the role.
Again from 31 Thoughts:
The nine interviews I’m aware of for Pittsburgh were (in alphabetical order) interim GM Patrik Allvin (who returns to his assistant GM role), Burke, Boston’s John Ferguson, Michael Futa, Hextall, OHL London’s Mark Hunter, Jason Karmanos, Colorado’s Chris MacFarland and NHL Network’s Kevin Weekes. Weekes, I believe, got a long look for the role Burke received. It opens more possibilities for him.
Seems like both Ferguson Jr. Futa and Hunter have been runners up in every GM hiring for the past half decade. It’s only a matter of time, boys! Hang in there!
In any case, it's easy to see why the Penguins went with the Hextall/Burke combo. The pair are pretty established and Burke in particular has a track record of making immediate changes wherever he's gone. Hextall is known as a patient GM with a 'wait and see' approach. It'll be interesting to see their dynamic at play.