Shortly after Ron Hextall was appointed Penguin’s general manager in February 2021, he called him the “No. 1 priority” for bringing in Chris Prior.
During Hextol’s tenure as general manager of Flyers from 2014-18, Pryor was GM’s right-hand man, holding a number of positions, including assistant general manager.
So when Patrick Alvin left Penguin in January to become general manager in Vancouver, it made sense for Hextall to turn to his predecessor to fill the vacant post of assistant general manager.
On Tuesday, the dots that were so easy to add finally came together. Penguin announced that Pryor, 61, has been officially promoted to assistant general manager. In his new role, Pryor will assist Hextol in all aspects of hockey operations and involve all staff in decision making. He was most recently the Director of Player Staff, which oversees penguin scouting in North America and Europe.
The news was part of a penguin ad hat trick.
Andy Saussier, who has spent the last 10 years as a video coach, has been promoted to the newly created role of Hockey Operations Analyst / Support staff. Saussure, 35, will serve as a coaching staff in the coaching staff and analytics department. He will also be involved in player decisions and helping with pro scouting.
Also on Tuesday, Eric Hasley, 36, added Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguin’s general manager to his job title. He has spent the last 14 years in various positions with the organization, most recently as manager of hockey operations, a position he will continue to play.
“Chris, Andy and Eric are all key members of our hockey operations department and bring together a variety of experiences and skills,” Hextall said in a statement. “All three individuals are well qualified for their new roles and responsibilities as we build our Hockey Operations Division.”
Now, back to Pryor.
After a six-year, 82-game NHL career, as a defender, Prior began the second chapter of his hockey career with the New York Islands Scouting Division in the mid-1990s. He has since gained over 25 years of scouting and managerial experience. Before joining Penguin, he spent the last two seasons with the Nashville Predators organization.
“He has a strong opinion, but he is also open to other people’s opinions and the way he works as a group,” Hextoll said when he brought Prior to the fold in 2021. “The biggest thing about scouting for me is that you have to use your whole group. Everyone has to participate. … they have to feel owned.”
Pryor had the most notable tenure with the Flyers from 1999-2019, where he was an amateur scout, scouting director and player staff director. He eventually became one of Hextol’s assistant general managers from 2016-18. While working closely with Pryor and Hextall, the Flyers restored their farm system with notable draft picks, including Claude Giroux, Sean Couture, Travis Sanheim, Ivan Provorov, Travis Connie, and Carter Hart.
At least one official promotion should be on the horizon. The Post-Gazette reported last week that Fenway Sports Group would appoint Kevin Acklin as chairman of Penguin’s business operations.
Acklin, who joined the organization in 2018, had previously served as the team’s chief operations officer and general advisor. David Morehouse will partially fill his promotion as Penguin’s president and CEO at the end of the season.