Penguins rent Brian Burke and Ron Hextall to interchange Rutherford

Brian Burke has been hired as President of Hockey Operations for the Pittsburgh Penguins. (Photo by Bruce Bennett / Getty Images)

The Pittsburgh Penguins have hit the shock of Jim Rutherford’s departure in naming his replacement.

Or replacement.

As first reported by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, Brian Burke will be stepping off the stage he stepped off the television studio he was home to for the past few years to take on the job of President of Hockey Operations in Pittsburgh and through Rutherfords Hextall’s successor to serve in the position of General Manager Ron.

The team soon confirmed the news.

As a former star netminder with the Philadelphia Flyers, Hextall’s attitude is juicy in itself, but his appointment is clearly secondary to news that Burke is making a return to the executive world.

Burke – who was once signed by the Flyers in his brief career as a player – was one of the loudest and most polarizing leaders in a decades-long management career that included ups and downs at stops at Hartford Whalers, Anaheim Ducks and Vancouver Canucks in Toronto on Maple Leafs and Calgary Flames. He also gained a lot of experience on an international level and worked for USA Hockey in many phases.

It appeared that his executive career came to an end in 2018 when he left the Flames to take on a broadcast role at Sportsnet.

In many ways, Burke’s attitude is the biggest shake that suggests Rutherford is leaving. It was a decision the franchise left to perhaps prematurely address its uncertain future. With Burke and Hextall in the fold, it offers a window into their thinking.

Burke’s previous disinterest in rebuilding a roster from scratch would suggest the Penguins are trying to retool Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and fail to prepare for life after the two superstar centers.

The story goes on

It’s a challenge that Burke should and should have piqued – for this is one of the most iconic positions in hockey and a realistic foundation on which to improve his management legacy.

And it also recalls one of Burke’s most famous quotes from his executive career when asked about Pittsburgh and its success in the Crosby era.

Nine years later, Burke was offered the opportunity. And he took it.

That should be interesting.

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