Medicine Hat News

Penguins tap Hextall as GM, Burke as president of hockey ops



Ron Hextall’s relationsh­ip with the Pittsburgh Penguins is complicate­d. His mandate as the team’s new general manager is not.

The Penguins hired Hextall on Tuesday to build a team capable of winning the Stanley Cup. Not in five years. Not in three years. This year.

It’s a level of pressure Hextall - whose father Bryan Hextall Jr. played for Pittsburgh in the early 1970s and who clashed with Mario Lemieux and the Penguins repeatedly during his lengthy run as the top goaltender for the Philadelph­ia Flyers can live with.

“You’ve got players, (Evgeni) Malkin and (Sidney) Crosby and (Kris) Letang, we want to be as good as we can be right now with three of the best players in the world,” Hextall said Tuesday afternoon following a whirlwind courtship that began in earnest last week.

The 56-year-old Hextall replaces Hall of Famer Jim Rutherford, who resigned abruptly two weeks ago following a wildly successful stint in Pittsburgh that included winning back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017. Hextall’s father and Rutherford were teammates in Pittsburgh during the younger Hextall’s childhood, with Rutherford even loaning Hextall a goalie mask and skates and occasional­ly playing a little street hockey together.

Filling Rutherford’s shoes four decades later won’t be easy. Then again, Hextall won’t be doing it alone. The Penguins also lured longtime NHL executive Brian Burke out of a cushy gig as a TV analyst to become Pittsburgh’s president of hockey operations. It’s a role Burke accepted following a nudge from Lemieux

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