For a couple of years now, Ron Hextall has been seen as one of the best General Managers in the making with his time spent in the Los Angeles front office. Now we're going to get to see how good.
Hextall returned to the Philadelphia Flyers organization before this past season, making a lateral move to be the Assistant GM. It doesn't look so lateral now as Hextall is being promoted to the General Manager while current GM Paul Holmgren is going to be elevated to the position of team president. That was first reported by Frank Seravalli of the Philadelphia Daily News.
"I'm extremely excited about this new opportunity to manage the Philadelphia Flyers," Hextall said. "I look forward to working closely with Paul in our new hockey structure and working towards our ultimate goal of winning the Stanley Cup."
In case it bears reminding, Hextall is a bit of a franchise favorite in Philadelphia. He manned the nets in Philly for 11 of his 13 NHL seasons and is remembered not only for his temper but becoming the first NHL goalie to score a goal in a playoff game.
The timing is interesting, to say the least. Holmgren just a few days ago was expressing a desire to stay as the GM, that he wasn't ready to relinquish the role. But Hextall remained a hot name and with the nearby Capitals in the hunt for a GM, perhaps the Flyers were staying ahead of the curve by making sure they didn't lose Hextall.
"Ron is one of the league's bright young stars on the management side, and we're very fortunate to have him," owner Ed Snider said. He's had success in Los Angeles and will now put that experience to work for us as General Manager. We all remember the enthusiasm, work ethic and personality he had as a player, and we're excited to watch him bring those qualities to building a team that will contend for the Stanley Cup."
Regardless of why, it brings an end to the Paul Holmgren GM era in Philly and what an era it was. Certainly they have been pretty successful since Homer took the reins from Bobby Clarke in 2006 as they did go to the Stanley Cup Final and made the playoffs all but twice.
At the same time, it was an era full of wild contracts and was never without a dull moment. With Holmgren at the helm the Flyers never saw a deal they didn't entertain whether it was a huge contract (hello, Ilya Bryzgalov) or getting aggressive in trades (too many to count but Mike Richards and Jeff Carter are a good start).
"Over the past eight seasons, Paul has done an outstanding job," Snider said. "He picked up the pieces of our disastrous season in 2006 and immediately made changes that took us to the Conference Finals the very next year, and we have consistently been in contention ever since. He's been a Flyer for 35 years and has earned the opportunity to run our entire organization."
As the team president, Holmgren will still be involved in some of the hockey operations but no doubt most of the power will be ceded to Hextall now as he is the new GM.
Hextall's first action may come in his team's home town as the Flyers will host the NHL draft next month. We could get a perfect stage to see if Hextall is as aggressive as his now predecessor.