When a young athlete comes from a family of well-known athletes, it can be hard to break away and form an identity, but that’s what Coyotes prospect Brett Hextall
is trying to do.
The latest in the line of Hextall hockey players hit the ice inside Jobing.com Arena on Saturday for his first professional training camp looking to prove that he’s ready to take the next step in his development.
“It’s an exciting time for me,” said Hextall, after completing his first day of camp with veteran NHL players and other young hopefuls looking to get noticed. “I had three great years at the University of North Dakota, so I feel prepared.”
The Coyotes selected Hextall in the sixth round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. The following fall he started as a freshman at North Dakota, where he notched 39 goals and 52 assists for 91 points in 115 games over a span of three seasons. In April of this year, General Manager Don Maloney signed Hextall to an entry-level deal.
“I’m just hoping to show that I can play a certain role and be a scrappy energy player that’s relentless on the puck, and hopefully fit in a role somewhere here,” Hextall said. “One thing I love about this organization is that they really appreciate things like that.”
Hextall is now in his second week of showcasing his skills to the organization. He attended last week’s Rookie Camp and stood out in two games against the Los Angeles Kings, scoring three goals to help the Coyotes split a two-game series vs. LA, the same organization that employs his father Ron as Assistant General Manager.
I’m just hoping to show that I can play a certain role and be a scrappy energy player that’s relentless on the puck, and hopefully fit in a role somewhere here." - Brett Hextall
“It was a really cool experience,” Hextall said. “…For our family I think it’s something that we’ll always remember, my first year pro playing against his team, and scoring a few goals. He puts that team together and it definitely was a special experience.”Brett Hextall
also talked about the friendly rivalry that the two rookie games created within his family.
“We had some fun with it,” Brett said. “He was trying to recruit my brother and mom to cheer for the Kings, and I was trying to get my brother to wear a Coyotes jersey.”
Brett’s father was a goaltender who played in 608 regular season games in the NHL and won 296 games with three different teams. Brett’s grandfather, Bryan Jr., played in 549 regular season games and scored 260 points. His great grandfather, Bryan, played in 449 regular season games and won a Stanley Cup with the New York Rangers in 1940. His father’s uncle, Dennis, played in 681 career regular season games with six different teams.
But despite the impressive lineage, Brett says his father has let him blaze his own trail to the NHL and form his own identity as a hockey player.
“I think, for the most part, he wanted me to figure it out on my own,” Hextall said. “It’s a learning process and you’ve got to learn by doing it your own way. I’m not going to play in the NHL the same way he did it, and I think he knows that. He definitely gave me the space, and if I ever need help he’s always there.”