GLENDALE, Ariz. – Brett Hextall is looking forward to playing for Portland Pirates and facing his father’s team, the Manchester Monarchs.
As vice president and assistant general manager of the Los Angeles Kings, Ron Hextall, who played 13 seasons as one of the NHL’s top goalies, is the Monarchs’ GM.
“We’ve had some fun with it,” said Brett, a forward in his first season with the Phoenix Coyotes’ organization after spending the last three years at the University of North Dakota.
“It’s kind of cool. Growing up, my whole life has actually been getting to this point, and playing against his team the other day was something pretty special, and something he’ll remember and I’ll remember for a real long time.”
Last week, Hextall played two games against the Kings as a part of Phoenix’s rookie camp. He is one 59 players at the Coyotes’ main training camp at Jobing.com Arena.
The Portland Pirates are entering their first season as the Coyotes’ AHL affiliate.
“It was good during rookie camp,” Brett said. “Now, main camp is another jump up and I’ll have to elevate my game again.”
Hextall is slated to start the season with the Pirates, but he hasn’t looked out of place during the first three days at Phoenix’s main training camp.
“What people don’t know about him, and they will find out very quickly, is he’s a very intelligent player,” Pirates Coach Ray Edwards said.
“He knows where to go on the ice. He knows when to fill the hole and space. He’s made for the pro game because he plays that abrasive style. He has the ability to score and he has the ability to check, so he’s a real interesting prospect. It’s going to be fun coaching him.”
Hextall, a 5-foot-10, 190-pound right wing, knows there’s room for improvement.
“Honestly, it’s just a whole other step up,” he said. “Just everything. Skating. Being stronger. Handling the puck better. It’s everything.”
Hextall intends to continue to play the tough aggressive style he demonstrated at North Dakota.
“I want to focus on my strengths, and that for me is playing in your face and bodying guys and being relentless on the puck,” he said. “Just developing the mentality to do that — because it isn’t easy — is probably the biggest key for me.”
Hextall could become the fourth generation of his family to play in the NHL.
His grandfather, Bryan Hextall Jr., played eight NHL seasons, principally with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the ’70s, and his great-grandfather Bryan Hextall Sr. was one of the NHL top forwards in the ’30s and ’40s.
Last season, 2010 Hobey Baker Award winner Blake Geoffrion became the fourth generation of his family to play in the NHL when he played 20 games for the Nashville Predators.
NOTES: In the last intrasquad scrimmage Monday morning before two days of preseason games against the Anaheim Ducks and the Los Angeles Kings, a squad coached by Pirates assistant coach John Slaney pulled out a 2-1 win against a squad coached by Edwards. The two coaches went 3-3 against each other during the Coyotes’ rookie camp and main training camp.
Besides Slaney, who played parts of two seasons with the Pirates during the early 1990s, forward Boyd Gordon, a first-round pick by the Washington Capitals in the 2002 draft, is the only former Pirate at the Coyotes’ camp. Gordon spent the 2003-04 and 2004-05 season with Portland.
As many as 30 players could be in Portland Monday for the Pirates’ first on-ice practice at the Cumberland County Civic Center. A number of other players are likely to be assigned following the Coyotes’ exhibition game Saturday against the San Jose Sharks, but it may take them four or five days to travel to Portland.
Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: