blank'/> THE PUCK REPORT: Ron Hextall Interview - 2009 Hockey Fest

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Ron Hextall Interview - 2009 Hockey Fest

Last weekend famed Flyers goalie turned Kings Assistant GM Ron Hextall spoke with us at Hockey Fest '09 about controlling his temper, fighting Garth Snow, and his respect for Chris Chelios. These are his stories.

Q: Discuss the transition from starting goalie to Assistant GM. How have you channeled the intensity and aggression of your on-ice game to the boardrooms and war rooms of front office existence?
A: All I can say is thank god I don’t carry on like that in the office.

Q: So you don’t carry on like that in the office?
A: Oh heck no. Dean does more of that than I do. Way more. It’s funny, my career was over and I was thinking what do I want to do. There was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to stay in the game. I had been in Philadelphia a long time and Bob Clarke said what do you want to do. I don’t really know, I said, I kind of like the management side of things. As players you sit down there and the managers are sitting around talking about who’s going to get traded. I was always intrigued by it.

I started out as a Pro Scout and worked my way up to Director of Pro Hockey Personnel. I was in Philadelphia for seven years and I felt like I needed to move up. I was a three man behind Clarke and Paul Holmgren and I learned an awful lot. Quite frankly I felt like Clarke and Holmgren would be in Philadelphia forever. Sure enough, two months into my tenure here Clarke stepped back.

But I don’t look back. I've learned a lot being in LA. I think for my career personally to come to another organization and learn how another organization operates, to see a team where this team is at in the rebuilding process, I’d never been through that before. Not only on the ice but the whole infrastructure of the hockey operations staff has been changed here. To be involved in the interviewing and hiring of people, allocating jobs and roles, it’s been very educating whereas in Philadelphia everything was in place. They had a contending team every year and the staff has been there forever. There's just a camaraderie and everybody fit. So to come here the dynamics were just totally different for me. It helped to round out my hockey background.

Q: For three seasons ('95-'96, '96-'97 , '97-'98) Garth Snow was your goaltending partner in Philadelphia and now he's a GM as well. Is there a rapport there?
A: Oh yeah. We talk quite a bit. Dean talks to him quite a bit too. I usually call to needle him more than anything else. He's at a similar point that we were two years ago. He's behind us because we have a little more of an experienced team. But in terms of the building process he's about where we were a couple of years ago. It’s going to be a tough year. He's got some kids coming up. I think he realizes where he's at.

Q: Both you and Snow were known to get involved in a fight now and then. If the two of you ever squared off who would win?
A: Oh I’d kill him. I’d kill him. He knows that.

Q: I understand that Chelios lives in Los Angeles in the off-season. Are you friends despite your famous fight in 1989?

A: No, we’re not friends. I've talked to him a few times. You know what, honestly, when the game's over, when your career’s over, you look back at guys like that and you respect them more than anyone else because he is a competitor. He’s one of the top competitors in the league. I look at a guy like that, would I like to have played with him? Damn right I would have. Those guys that are competitive, there's a respect there even if you can’t stand the guy. There's a respect there that never goes away. When I was standing at the bench in Detroit two years ago when we were in town who comes over to talk to me? He does. It’s in the past.

Q: So it all stays on the ice?
A: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Many thanks to Ron for speaking with us. Best of luck this season.