What a huge turn of events for the Penguins over the last two weeks. Things appeared to be going along fine after a slow start. Then suddenly GM Jim Rutherford resigned out of nowhere, opening up a position for somebody to presumably come in and try to wring another Cup or two out of Sid and Geno. And into that void stepped a legend from Pittsburgh's biggest rivals.
Ron Hextall, arguably the craziest NHL goalie to ever strap on pads, was named the new GM today. Even though the 1987 Conn Smythe winner will always be tied to the Flyers, he actually lived in Pittsburgh as a young kid when his dad was a Penguin in the early '70s. "I've come full circle," Hextall said, "as I have fond memories as a youth in Pittsburgh watching the Penguins and my father."
His handprints are all over the current Philly team as about a third of the roster was drafted under Hextall's stewardship. He also won a Stanley Cup as assistant GM with the 2012 Los Angeles Kings. But the reason I italicized "presumably" above?
That's a rather eyebrow-raising quote from Hextall in regards to his two superstars, particularly when you remember that the former GM just up and quit out of nowhere.
The Pens didn't stop there and made a move that was even more surprising. They also lured longtime executive Brian Burke from his talking head gig at Sportsnet in Canada and signed him as President of Hockey Operations. He hasn't worked for an NHL front office since he left the Calgary Flames almost three years ago.
We've had him on Spittin' Chiclets a couple of times in the last year or so and he seemed pretty content doing (much easier) media work. But he must've gotten the itch again. And with Sidney Crosby involved, he wanted to scratch that itch.
Burkie's also still just 65 years old, which is six years younger than Rutherford and hardly a retirement age when it comes to NHL front offices. He recently said that the Penguins window was "closed" and here's how he responded to that question.
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.