Photo credit: Bruce Bennett / Getty Images
After the shocking resignation of Jim Rutherford on January 27th, the Pittsburgh Penguins acted swiftly in tabbing former rival Ron Hextall as their new general manager. Hextall is also bringing with him former GM Brian Burke as the new President of Hockey Ops.
Many people were caught by surprise when the Flyers decided to move on from Hextall back in 2018. He had done a great job trying to untangle the web that was left behind by Paul Holmgren and taking the team out of cap hell. A lot of his undoing in Philadelphia led to the fact that he was extremely patient in not wanting to rush Carter Hart to the NHL.
While many Penguins fans may not want to hear it, they are finally looking down the barrel of a rebuild and Hextall is the perfect man to spearhead it. While the mantra in Pittsburgh has always been to “go for it” while they still have Crosby, Malkin, and Letang they are now coming to the backend of their careers.
It’s always inevitable that when you’ve been as successful as the Penguins have been for as long as they’ve been that the check will always be due. The Pens have done a fantastic job of pushing off paying for the bill but that day is now rapidly approaching and it’s time that people in the organization to take notice. Whether or not it means moving on from Malkin or Letang it certainly appears like it is time to shake up the core.
Sidney Crosby will never and should never wear another NHL jersey than a Penguins one but even at their age or injury history, you can still get a nice return for Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang respectfully. However I will say I find it unlikely that either one of these moves will wind up happening because if it’s true that ownership stepped in to nix a potential trade of Letang by Rutherford then I highly doubt they’ll allow the new crew to shakeup the organization so dramatically.
There’s going to be a lot of changes coming in Pittsburgh but it looks like the Penguins have made a very smart hire for a man who preaches patience and won’t make moves just to make them. There will be a shakeup and moves to be made but you can bet that the Penguins will not only be making moves for the now but also for the future. Ron Hextall is one of the best hockey minds in the league and paired with a lifelong hockey man like Brian Burke the Pittsburgh Penguins are in more than capable hands.