Mario Lemieux and the Pittsburgh Penguins are turning to a former rival to help them keep the Stanley Cup window open for Sidney Crosby and company. The team hired former Philadelphia Flyer goaltender and general manager Ron Hextall as the team’s general manager on Tuesday.
Hextall replaces Jim Rutherford, who resigned abruptly last month. The Penguins also hired longtime league executive Brian Burke as director of hockey operations.
The hires come less than two weeks after Rutherford, who built a roster around longtime captain Crosby that brought consecutive Stanley Cups to Pittsburgh in 2016 and 2017, stepped down with six months left on his contract, saying only “it was time.”
“It’s an honour to be joining the Pittsburgh Penguins, an organization well-known for its excellence on and off the ice,” Hextall said in a statement. “I look forward to working with ownership, Brian and the entire organization toward the ultimate goal of bringing another Stanley Cup to Pittsburgh.”
Burke, 65, has spent more than 30 years in management and was the general manager of the Anaheim Ducks when the franchise captured the Stanley Cup in 2007.
Hextall and Burke take over a club that still feels it is among the NHL’s elite, even with Crosby, former Hart Trophy winner Evgeni Malkin and defenceman Kris Letang all in their mid-30s. Pittsburgh is currently in fifth place in the crowded East Division with a 5-5-1 record (11 points) through 11 games.
The Penguins are in the midst of an extended layoff due to a COVID-19 outbreak in New Jersey.
Patrik Allvin, who served as interim GM following Rutherford’s exit, will stay on as an assistant general manager under Hextall.