clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Report: “Wheels in motion” for major changes in Pittsburgh

It didn’t take long for rumors about Ron Hextall’s firing to begin

2022 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Round 2-7 Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Penguins’ off-season hasn’t even officially started yet, but the rumors about what surely will be a period of major changes have already begun.

Will Ron Hextall survive the week as Penguins GM?

Chants of “Fire Hextall” emanated in PPG Paints Arena this week for at least the third time this season as the Pittsburgh Penguins punctured their own playoff hopes with a loss to the 31st place Chicago Blackhawks. This spring marks the first time since 2006, when Sidney Crosby was 19, that the Pens won’t have a ticket to the dance. Sources said there were strong indications Fenway Sports Group was beginning to put the wheels in motion for a complete change in Penguins leadership, which is likely to also include president of hockey operations Brian Burke. Fenway purchased the Pens in 2021, inheriting Hextall and Burke. Hextall’s track record as GM is abysmal: In seven seasons, his teams have made the playoffs four times and not won a single round. The postseason appearances are not as strong as they seem: two of them were with Penguins rosters he was handed. Hextall’s trade deadline was disastrous: Mikael Granlund, Nick Bonino and Dmitry Kulikov all hurt the team. And recent re-signings Jeff Carter (38), Evgeni Malkin (35), Kris Letang (35) will have the proud Pens feeling pain for years to come with no opening in sight to return to the playoff mix.

Fenway Sports Group hasn’t been heard that much from since acquiring the controlling stake in the Penguins. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, until a time like now when the franchise badly needs ownership to step in and provide guidance and direction.

It’s beyond obvious and clear that, with a few exceptions, everything Ron Hextall has touched in the last two years has turned out wrong. Poor decisions were made, both transactions that looked obvious at the time as being low chances of success, and also decent enough looking ideas that turned out going haywire as future events unfolded. Perhaps he’s been unlucky along the way to have had better outcomes along the way, but from the expansion draft, prioritizing and giving big contracts to marginal players, turning the team older, slower, shorter, lighter - it’s been unsuccessful.

Regardless of the how it didn’t work or why it didn’t work, it didn’t work. The Brian Burke/Ron Hextall hockey operations team failed miserably on the ice. It’s time for them to go.

If Seravalli is correct, the Penguins might not have to wait too much longer to be sent in a new direction with a new management team. It’s time. The decision on who to hire next will be almost as important as deciding to move on from Burke/Hextall in the first place.

Some free advice to our friends at FSG: