Ron Hextall is back in Philadelphia, serving the Flyers in what appears to be the exact same role as he's had the last seven years with the Los Angeles Kings. He's leaving a Stanley Cup winner that he helped build in L.A. to come back home to Philly, an organization with which he clearly has a pretty deep connection.
But really, it's a lateral move. So why is he coming here? Does he think there's a chance it'll advance his NHL career, and does he want Paul Holmgren's job?
Short answers: It's in his gut, and yes, ostensibly he wants Homer's job. The long answer...
Hextall spoke with the media Monday night from Los Angeles and discussed his entire decision making process and his desire to be a GM. Will it be here? Does he think it'll be here? Here's a full transcript of Hextall's chat with reporters:
It came together in a very short period of time here. I had a brief conversation with Homer at the draft there and since then it's just kinda steamrolled toward the resolution that's happened today.
It's obviously a little bitter sweet for me. I had a great time in L.A; a Stanley Cup, obviously that's the pinnacle for all of us. In this decision -- I'm sure you guys are going to ask what it was all about -- I don't have anything Earth-shattering other than to say that it was a gut feeling and that's what I went with.
When you say "gut feeling"-- can you expand on that?
You know, honestly, there are a few things that happened over the years, that-- you know, certain general managers jobs getting filled. There are just certain things that have happened that have affected me. My family is out east. Obviously I have ties with the Flyers, so there's a bunch of little things that tied into the process here that I went through to make this decision.
But in the end, again, I'm following my gut here to what I think is the right move. Again, I really don't have more substance than that.
Was there anything that maybe changed in the relationship with [Kings GM] Dean Lombardi over the last couple of months that led you in this direction?
Absolutely not. I have a good relationship with Dean. Nothing has changed there.
And again, I came here, seven years, and I will say this. I think everybody knows how strong my ties are in Philadelphia, but when I came to L.A., I came here all in. I wasn't looking over my shoulder, looking to go back to Philadelphia and I was here and I was all in and I worked hard and I enjoyed my time in L.A. It wasn't one of these things where I was ... [inaudible] ... back to Philadelphia. ... [inaudible]
One of the things that happened was quite frankly, we won the Stanley Cup. I came out here with the vision to build a team and help play my little part in trying to build a Stanley Cup winner. That was, again, part of my decision. Again, there are a lot of little things but there's not one really big thing I can point to. Absolutely, my relationship with Dean is as strong as it was when I came here.
You say you were all in there in L.A. but was returning to Philadelphia something maybe you had hoped to do in the future? Was it ever really in the back of your mind in that way?
That's a hard question to answer. I obviously have definite ties with the Flyers but the hardest decision I ever made in my life was a little over seven years ago to leave Philadelphia to pursue a stepping stone that I felt would give me the best chance possible to be a general manager. That is my goal and it has been since I stepped off the ice.
So when I left Philadelphia, I made a conscious decision that I was leaving an organization that I had deep roots with to pursue a dream that I have, again, to be a general manager. We obviously built a great team out here in L.A. and I'm proud of what we've done but there's something telling me this is the right move and I'm going out with them and not looking back. I enjoyed my time out here.
I know it's an assistant general manager job you're taking in Philadelphia vs. the one you left in L.A. but do you feel this is a step toward being a general manager in the NHL?
I have absolutely no answer for your question. I think every general manager at some point is going to step down, whether it's Paul Holmgren or Dean Lombardi or any of the other 28 guys in the league and it's just my gut. I'm going with my gut and I'm going to look back in two or three or five years and figure out whether it was the right decision or not but I feel strongly about it right now.
It was not an easy decision. It was a quick decision. It was a matter of two weeks, but I gave it a lot of thought and uh-- [inaudible] I'm a very analytical guy. I analyzed this-- [inaudible, MUTE YOUR DAMN PHONE IF YOU'RE NOT TALKING] -- and came back to my gut and that's what I went with.
You said you've had these aspirations since you ended your playing career. What put that in your mind, whether it was 1999 or before that, that general manager was ultimately something you wanted to become?
I think in my playing days, watching the way Bobby Clarke operated. I admired the man so much for his hockey career -- albeit, I didn't like him when I was growing up -- and I just saw something there with myself. It's no different than when I was two years old and I used to throw a sock up the stairs and stop it. For whatever reason, I knew I wanted to be a goalie and it was the same with trying to pursue being in hockey management with the ultimate goal of being a general manager.
Quite frankly, to this day I still don't know if that's going to happen. It's no different than when you're in the minors and you're striving to play in the NHL. You're just dreaming and pushing hard everyday to make that dream come true, but it doesn't come true for everybody. This one may or may not come true at some point but I'm not sure that I've put myself in a better position because essentially I'm in the same position as I was.
But again, there's something dragging me here that I felt like at this time it was the right move. Dean told me when I left Philadelphia that 'if you want to make a lateral move, you can make one and that's back to Philly.' I've been here for seven years and I believe there probably was opportunities in the past where I could've taken advantage of that and I didn't. I'm not saying there was, I'm saying there was a window there the whole time, he said 'if you wanna go back there as an assistant, you can.'
How much are you familiar with the way the team is constructed and what do you see from a different vantage point?
I really haven't had time to look at it. I know Homer's put a lot of good young players in place there. Obviously, you look at their center ice. I really haven't taken a good enough look to see their team, but like I said, I know they've got some real good young pieces in place. We had Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn and they're both very good young players. I think there are some real good young pieces in place, but again, I've got some work to do to get to know the current roster as well as the whole depth chart.
Do you see this as a lateral move or do you see it as something more than that?
No, I think it's a lateral move. I don't think you can argue it's more than that. I see it probably being a very similar job responsibility that I had in L.A., so I see it as a lateral move, and that's why it's a good question to ask. If it's a lateral move, why are you going? But like I said, I'm just going with my gut on this one.
I've had a lot of emotions the last day and a half since I told Dean and it's been a tough one. Whenever you're going somewhere, you're also leaving somewhere. I met a lot of great people here and I had a great time. In saying that, I'm going back to Philly, a place that I'm familiar with, colors I'm familiar with, and I'm looking forward to that as well. But I'll miss a lot of the people out here.
Paul [Holmgren] said that you're probably the most highly thought of guy who's not a general manager. Do you ever see yourself fulfilling that role with this team? Obviously he's still in that position but it's something you must have thought of in your decision making process.
I have absolutely no idea. If that were to work out at some point when Homer's had enough, that's great, but that could happen again in 29 other places as well. I do want to be a general manager and I talked to Homer about that when we were talking about this job. If something else becomes available, I at least want to look at it. He was absolutely fine with that.
So my goal still hasn't changed in terms of where I want this to all end, but if it was there, great, if I could look elsewhere-- I don't have a crystal ball. I don't like to look big picture. I'm looking forward to going back and doing my little part to help the Philadelphia Flyers be successful and hopefully bring a Stanley Cup to Philly.
Here's the audio of the call, courtesy of the Flyers: