As a player Ron Hextall led the 1987 Flyers to the Stanley Cup Final, left for a couple of years, then returned again a decade later. Now, as an executive, he's following the same script.
The 49-year-old Hextall is the Flyers' new Assistant General Manager and Director of Hockey Operations. He'll assume his new duties starting Aug. 1. Hextall is returning to the franchise he's known and loved for nearly three decades after seven years away in L.A. And he's the first to admit it's not exactly like he's climbing the corporate ladder.
"I think it's a lateral move," said Hextall, the Flyers' career goaltending leader in wins (240). "It's basically a similar job to what I've had here in L.A. So then you're wondering, 'Why are you going?' I'm just going with my gut. I'm not sure if I'm putting myself in a better position, but there's something dragging me here. It's the right move."
Hextall said he has no assurance from current Flyers GM Paul Holmgren, who worked with him when Hexy served as a scout and later Flyers' Director of Pro Hockey Personnel from 1999-2006, that he's next in line should Homer stepped down or be forced out. In fact, should a GM spot open up elsewhere, he'll have the option to pursue it.
Yet for now he has no qualms of scratching his personal, seven-year itch and return to the Orange and Black family.
"There's a lot of little things, not one big thing I can point to," said Hextall. "Obviously, I have definite ties with the Flyers. One of the hardest decisions I ever made was to leave Philadelphia and pursue a stepping stone. I thought this (going to L.A.) was my best chance to be a GM. I have no idea if it will work out some point where Homer's had enough, because I do want to be a GM. Quite frankly, I don't know if it's gonna happen."
As for the franchise he's rejoining, which Hextall has seldom seen play in person the past few years being out West, he admits he doesn't know a lot.
"I know Homer's put together a lot of good young players," said Hextall, who revolutionized the goaltender position with his extraordinary puck-handling to the point where he even scored a couple of goals. "But I've got some work to do to know the current roster and depth chart. I think the more people you work for the smarter you become. I've learned an awful lot in L.A. and had a blast. But, going back to Philly is a place I'm familiar with."
And, if the pattern continues, maybe a trip for Hextall and the Flyers back to the Stanley Cup Final won't be far behind.