Ron Hextall: The mobile goalie
Hockey fans that think a goaltender's job is simply to stop pucks have never heard of the game's most mobile goalie of all time: Ron Hextall.
A native of Brandon, Man., Hextall's style of play was physical, aggressive and quite unusual for a goalie.
Hextall would chase the puck anywhere in his own end and his teammates felt comfortable passing the puck back to him when killing a penalty.
His style of play also gave him a desire to do something no goalie had ever done before. Score a goal!
On the night of Dec. 8, 1987, in a game against the Boston Bruins, the Philadelphia Flyers had a two-goal lead and the Bruins pulled their goalie in the last minute.
Hextall got the puck near the side of his net and fired it in down the ice marking the first time a goalie had ever shot the puck into the other team's net.
And then Hextall did it again!
On April 11, 1989 during a playoff game against Washington, he shot another puck into an open net. This goal was another milestone in hockey history, as he was the first goalie to score in a playoff game.
Hextall's uncanny grit and toughness made him a fan-favourite in Philadelphia. Players knew that if they approached the Flyer's net they risked getting welts on their legs from Hextall's stick.
Originally selected by the Flyers in the sixth-round (119th overall) in the 1982 NHL Entry Draft, Hextall was the fourth in his family to play in the NHL.
During his rookie season, 1986-87, Hextall took the Flyers to the Stanley Cup finals against Wayne Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers. He played heroically in defeat and earned the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP, along with the Vezina Trophy for best goaltender.
After being traded to the Quebec Nordiques and the New York Islanders, Hextall returned once again to the Flyers, taking the team to the 1997 finals before losing to the Detroit Red Wings.
Hextall finished out his career with the Flyers in 1999.
He holds many Flyers franchise goaltending records, including an NHL-record 113 penalty minutes in 1988-89.
He also owns the franchise records for most career games played (489), career wins (240), career points (28), career penalty minutes (476) and most career playoff wins (45) by a Flyer goalie.
After retiring, the Flyers organization showed their appreciation by inducting Hextall into the Flyers Hall of Fame.
Since hanging up his pads, Hextall has continued to be involved with the game.
He is currently the vice president and assistant general manger of the Los Angeles Kings and also serves as general manager of the Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey League.
His knowledge and passion for the game have been passed on to his son, Brett Hextall, who was drafted by the Phoenix Coyotes during the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.
With that selection, the Hextall family has a chance to become the first family to have four generations play in the NHL — a truly remarkable feat for a very special family!