BLOOMINGTON - The International Hockey League finally got its man, and he brings instant name recognition and an impressive National Hockey League pedigree.
Dennis Hextall, who played 13 seasons in the NHL and is a member of a famous hockey family, was named IHL commissioner on Wednesday. The 66-year-old Hextall replaces Paul Pickard, who resigned in May to become CEO of the ECHL's Kalamazoo Wings.
Hextall, the son of NHL Hall of Famer and New York Rangers great Bryan Hextall Sr., played as a left winger for six NHL teams from 1968 to 1980. A two-time NHL all-star, Hextall was team captain with the Minnesota North Stars and Detroit Red Wings and a player/coach with the Washington Capitals.
"(Hextall) brings tremendous experience and integrity to the league," IHL chairman of the board Michael Franke said in a statement. "We feel he will be a key part of the continued growth of the IHL."
Hextall, a native of Poplar Point, Manitoba, is currently the president and executive director of the Red Wings Alumni Association. His brother, Bryan Jr., and nephew, Ron Hextall, also enjoyed long playing careers in the NHL.
"I am ready for the fun, exciting future that lies ahead with the IHL," Hextall said. "The opportunity to grow personally and professionally with this league is something I look forward to."
In his position with the Red Wings, Hextall helps raise money for charities and organizations while encouraging interest in amateur hockey and athletics. The Red Wings Alumni Association is the oldest in the history of the NHL.
"Dennis has experience in formalized business planning and has a comprehensive marketing and public relations strategy that will help the branding of the IHL name," Franke said.
Hextall will begin as IHL commissioner on Tuesday. Bloomington PrairieThunder president Tim Leighton chaired the commissioner search committee.
"Dennis brings not only years as a hockey player, which isn't essential for the position but it's nice, he also has marketing and strategic planning experience that will bring structure and credibility to the league," Leighton said.
"I realize there are some out there who may wonder why we're bringing a hockey player in. That falls short of realizing that as president of the Red Wings Alumni Association, Dennis mobilized substantial financial and organizational resources."