Ron Hextall spent his 16-year-old season with the Melville Millionaires, before moving on to the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings for three more seasons, followed by a storied NHL career as a goaltender, mainly with the Philadelphia Flyers where he enjoyed a standout rookie season in 1986-87, capturing the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top goalie, and led the Flyers all the way to the Stanley Cup Final where they fell in seven games to Gretzky and the Oilers. Hextall was still named the Conn Smythe winner as playoff MVP despite falling short in the final.
Hextall didn’t win the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie, despite winning the Vezina that same year, because Luc Robitaille of the LA Kings scored 45-goals and 84-points that season to take that honour. Robitaille, as President of the Kings hired Hextall as Assistant General Manager in 2006-07 (and GM of their AHL Affiliate Manchester Monarchs, a role he held until 2012-13, when he moved onto a similar role in Philadelphia, before becoming GM and VP of Hockey Operations with the Flyers in 2017-18. He held that role for two seasons and went back to Los Angeles as a Senior Advisor for last season, and the start of this season, before finding himself back in a General Manager’s role, with the Flyers’ bitter state rivals in Pittsburgh, a move the Penguins announced just last week.
The following is from www.nhl.com
The Pittsburgh Penguins have named Ron Hextall as general manager and Brian Burke as president of hockey operations, it was announced today by co-owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle.
In their new roles, Hextall will oversee the Penguins’ day-to-day hockey operations, reporting to Burke as his primary advisor. Burke will report to David Morehouse, the team’s president and CEO.
“We feel incredibly lucky to bring in two highly-respected executives with a combined 50-plus years of NHL management experience,” Morehouse said. “Ron and Brian are well-known in the hockey world as fierce competitors with championship pedigrees. They’re very well-connected and experienced in all aspects of the game. They are both excited to get to work here in Pittsburgh, blending their skills and building on our long tradition of success.”
Hextall, 56, an elite NHL goaltender in his playing days, has been in NHL management for more than twenty years, including a four-year stint as GM of the Phildelphia Flyers from 2014-2018. He also was assistant general manager of the Los Angeles Kings from 2006-2013, helping the Kings to their first Stanley Cup in 2012. He began his post-playing career as a scout for the Flyers in 1999.
Burke, 65, a Harvard Law School graduate, has spent 31 years as an NHL executive and won the Stanley Cup as general manager of the Anaheim Ducks in 2006-2007. He also served as general manager of the Hartford Whalers and the Canucks; president and general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs; and president of hockey operations for the Calgary Flames. From 1993-1998 he was executive vice president and director of hockey operations for the NHL, working closely with commissioner Gary Bettman.
Patrik Allvin, who became interim GM of the Penguins when Jim Rutherford resigned on January 27, will resume his role as assistant general manager under Hextall and Burke.
“It’s an honor to be joining the Pittsburgh Penguins – an organization well-known for its excellence on and off the ice,” Hextall said. “I look forward to working with ownership, Brian and the entire organization toward the ultimate goal of bringing another Stanley Cup to Pittsburgh.”
Hextall played 13 seasons as an NHL goaltender with the Flyers, Quebec Nordiques and New York Islanders, posting 296 wins and a 2.98 goals-against average. He had an incredible rookie season in 1986-1987, winning the Vezina Trophy as the league’s best goaltender, leading the Flyers to the Stanley Cup Finals against the Edmonton Oilers, and winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the playoffs – a rare honor, since he played for the losing team.
The native of Brandon, Manitoba won at least 30 games in five of his NHL seasons. An outstanding stickhandler, he also scored two goals into empty nets – on December 8, 1987 against Boston and April 11, 1989 against Washington. He was a teammate of Penguins co-owner Mario Lemieux at the 1987 Canada Cup.
Hextall was a scout and served in the personnel department of the Flyers from 1999-2006, was assistant GM of the Flyers in 2013-2014 and most recently served as an advisor to the Kings. During his time as GM of the Flyers, the team drafted Carter Hart, Travis Konecny, Ivan Provorov, Joel Farabee, Nolan Patrick, Travis Sanheim, Oskar Lindblom and Nicolas Aube-Kubel.
Hextall’s hockey bloodlines run deep. His grandfather, Bryan Sr., was a star winger for the New York Rangers in the 1940s, scored the winning goal in overtime in the 1940 Stanley Cup Finals, and was named to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1964. His father, Bryan Jr., and uncle, Dennis, each played more than 500 games in the NHL.
Bryan Hextall Jr. was a center for the Penguins from 1969-1974. The Hextall home was in Green Tree, where their neighbors included many other Penguins and Pirates players. Ron, who lived here between the ages of five and nine, has fond memories of street hockey games with Manny Sanguillen and Rennie Stennett of the Pirates.
“I’ve come full circle,” Hextall said, “as I have fond memories as a youth in Pittsburgh watching the Penguins and my father.”
“To me, Pittsburgh is a take-your-breath-away destination for any GM or president of hockey ops,” Burke said. “I’m so excited for the opportunity. The Penguins are a storied franchise with outstanding ownership in Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle, and Pittsburgh is just a great hockey city. Ron Hextall and I are very fortunate. We can’t wait to get started.”
Burke played hockey at Providence College from 1973-1977 (under coach Lou Lamoriello) and parts of two seasons in the American Hockey League before earning his law degree at Harvard. He was a player agent from 1981-1986.
In 1987 he was hired as director of hockey operations for the Vancouver Canucks, beginning a career in NHL management that has now spanned five decades, with stops as general manager or president of hockey operations in Hartford, Anaheim, Toronto and Calgary. His 2007 Anaheim team, featuring key Burke acquisitions Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer, defeated Ottawa for the Stanley Cup. He was named NHL Executive of the Year by The Sporting News in 2001 and 2007.
Born in Providence, Rhode Island but raised in Edina, Minnesota, Burke has been a key executive for USA Hockey and was general manager of the 2010 U.S. Olympic team that won a silver medal, forcing heavily-favored Canada into overtime in the gold-medal game. He also served as director of player personnel for the 2014 Olympic team and was an original member of the USA Men’s National Team Advisory Group.
During his time as president of hockey operations in Calgary from 2013-2018, Burke hired Brad Treliving as general manager of the Flames and served as Treliving’s key advisor. He stepped back from his role in Calgary’s front office in April 2018.
Since then, he has worked as a hockey analyst for Rogers Media (Sportsnet) in Canada and published a book, Burke’s Law: A Life in Hockey.
Hextall and his wife, Diane, have four children and three grandchildren. His son, Brett, was a sixth-round draft pick of the Phoenix Coyotes in 2008 and played four seasons in the minor leagues before retiring.
Burke has five children. His son, Patrick, is a former NHL scout and works in the league’s department of player safety. In 2012, Brian and Patrick helped launch the You Can Play Project, with a goal of ensuring the safety and inclusion for all who participate in sports, including LGBTQ+ athletes, coaches and fans.It was founded in honor of the late Brendan Burke – Brian’s son and Patrick’s brother.