Pittsburgh Penguins hire Ron Hextall and Brian Burke

Pittsburgh Penguins hire Ron Hextall and Brian Burke

Pittsburgh Penguins hire Ron Hextall and Brian Burke

The Pittsburgh Penguins shook up the hockey world on Tuesday by announcing that they have hired Ron Hextall as their new general manager. The Penguins also revealed that Brian Burke has been brought on board to take over the newly-created President of Hockey Operations position.

The Penguins needed to fill the void left by former general manager Jim Rutherford, who vacated the role two weeks ago. Rutherford cited personal reasons for leaving the organization, having been in Pittsburgh since 2014.

“It just got to a point that I decided my time was up here,” Rutherford told the Associated Press at the time.

The Penguins claimed to be shocked by Rutherford’s announcement, but moved quickly to ensure they were not left behind. Hextall has experience as an NHL general manager already, having spent three and a half years in the position with the Philadelphia Flyers.

Rutherford made it clear in Tuesday’s press conference that he isn’t looking to make a plethora of changes, but could be planning to bolster the roster where necessary.

“We like our team right now. We both like our team,” Hextall said, via Sportsnet. “Is there a couple areas where we’d like to improve? Of course.”

“I can’t tell you what’s coming our way,” Hextall continued. “I can’t tell you how good our team is going to be the rest of the year and, therefore, to be definitive in a direction. Obviously we have different ideas [on direction] and in my interviews we talked about all kinds of different scenarios.

“We will keep an eye on the future and try and grab some assets here and there…but we want to be as good as we can be right now with three of the best players in the world.”

Burke provides even more experience to the organization, having served as a general manager with the Vancouver Canucks and Anaheim Ducks. He was the president and general manager with the Toronto Maple Leafs for a little over four years, before being named president of hockey operations for the Calgary Flames in September, 2013. He has been out of the NHL since 2018, working as a hockey analyst on Sportsnet in Canada.

Pittsburgh has just five wins in 11 games so far this season, but despite an ageing squad Hextall remains adamant the team will continue to push forward with the current group of stars that include the likes of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

“We’re looking to make the Pittsburgh Penguins the best team we can this year. We’ll see where it goes, we’ll see how good we are, we’ll see how our players respond and we’ll address things as we go along,” Hextall said. “You always have to look at the future, but you have to look at the present and the focus right now is on making the Pittsburgh Penguins the best we can right now until the end of the year.”

The Penguins won back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017, but have failed to win a playoff series in the last two years.