Why wouldn’t the GM have glowing things to say about his new right hand man, right?
That’s a fair enough bit of skepticism. But the reality is, Holmgren is probably dead on target when it comes to Hextall.
An in depth review of his career in NHL front offices shows Hextall, while not the ultimate decision maker either during his time previously with the Flyers, or his seven years in Los Angeles, had his fingerprints all over some key decisions.
Let’s start with the familiar:
Hextall was a professional scout and eventually the director of pro personnel for the Flyers from the summer of 1999 through April, 2006.
In that time, while scouting the NHL ranks, Hextall saw then-GM Bob Clarke trade for the following key pieces (in order):
“Hexy’s going to start on first once we get in and sit down together we’ll talk about lots of things,” Holmgren said. “But his knowledge of building teams from the ground up, which basically is what they did in L.A. when he went there. They were a team that wasn’t in real playoff shape and they build their team into Stanley Cup contenders.
“I think the things he learned in L.A. and was part of in L.A. and can be helpful to us moving forward.”
And those things learned in the city of angels were prominently on display when the Kings made the run to win the 2012 Stanley Cup championship.
When Hextall joined Kings G.M. (and former Flyers scout) Dean Lombardi in L.A. only three players who were on the 2012 Stanley Cup team were in the organizational system – captain Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar and Jonathan Quick.
Put in charge of scouting and player development, Hextall oversaw drafts that had the Kings add nine players who would play key roles on the championship team (Jonathan Bernier, Trevor Lewis, Alec Martinez, Dwight King, Drew Doughty, Slava Voynov, Andrei Lokitonov, Kyle Clifford and Jordan Nolan).
That’s a pretty significant number for a six-year span.
The Kings also added Rob Scuderi, Willie Mitchell and Simon Gagne through free agency, and made a boatload of trades involving draft picks and players that netted them Brad Richardson, Matt Greene, Jarret Stoll, Justin Williams, Dustin Penner, Colin Fraser and of course, Carter and Mike Richards.
Lombardi gets most of the credit for all the maneuvering, but any general manager worth his salt will tell you that his assistant is deeply immersed in all transactions, whether it’s negotiating with representatives of free agents, developing the prospects or piecing together trades that make sense.
It is with that knowledge that Holmgren was intently aware of Hextall’s involvement in building a champion.
“Hexy and I… We’ve always remained close over the years,” Holmgren said. “The timing seemed right. I know his contract expired just this past end of June and this opportunity came up and I jumped at it.
“I think its great to be able to add a person of that quality and knowledge and the fact that’s he’s in the Los Angeles organization the last number of years and as I said earlier the success he had, I’m certain that he’s got lot of different ideas, more different ideas than when he left here a number of years ago. It’s a real big deal for the Flyers organization.”
It’s a big deal because Hextall is what Holmgren said he is – a top executive in the sport without a GM position – not that Holmgren believes it will be long before Hextall finally gets his chance.
“I see it happening,” Holmgren said. “It could happen very soon with a number of teams I guess, you never know. It’s a funny business these days and you never know what’s going to happen. I’m looking forward to working with him and leaning on him heavily, as we all are.
“If that opportunity arises obviously nobody here is going to hold him back. As I said Ron is certainly qualified to do that and again I’m extremely pleased to have him part of our staff. A guy that I’ve known for a long time and I respect his opinion, I respect his knowledge of the game and I’m really looking forward to getting back to working with him closely.”
To contact Anthony SanFilippo, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @AnthonySan37
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