Today is the 47th birthday of Ronald Jeffrey Hextall. Best known for his years as a goaltender for the Philadelphia Flyers, Hextall is now the Vice President and Assistant General Manager of the Los Angeles Kings. If that weren’t enough, he also acts as the General Manager for the Kings’ AHL primary affiliate, the Manchester Monarchs. Hextall was a third generation professional hockey player. His grandfather, Bryan Hextall, had an 11-year Hall of Fame career with the New York Rangers in the ‘30s-‘40s and his father, Bryan Hextall Jr., had a 10-year career in the pros, most notably with the Pittsburgh Penguins. One of Hextall’s sons, Brett, was drafted by the Phoenix Coyotes in the ’08 Entry Draft, and if he plays in the pros, he will become just the second 4th-generation player in NHL history.
Hextall was born in Brandon, Manitoba, a town roughly 60 miles north of the Canadian border above North Dakota. He was drafted 119 overall (6th Round) by the Philadelphia Flyers in the 1982 Entry Draft. He wouldn’t make his first regular season appearance until the ’86-’87 season, when he started the season opener against the Edmonton Oilers (winning 2-1). Over the course of the next 13 seasons (11 with the Flyers), Hextall would revolutionize the position of goaltender.
Until Hextall, few goaltenders left the net to actively stick handle the puck. His aggressiveness to leave his crease, and essentially act as a 3rd defenseman, paved the way for the likes of current goaltenders like Martin Brodeur and Marty Turco. Hextall’s stick-handling led to him being the first goalie in NHL history to score a goal, and he currently shares the NHL record for most goals by a goaltender, including playoffs, at 2 (Martin Brodeur also has 2). His aggressiveness also carried over into the penalty department. Hextall currently holds the NHL record for most penalty minutes in a single season by a goaltender with 113. In fact, in each of his first 3 seasons, Hextall would earn at least 100 penalty minutes. Hextall would also be suspended for at least 6 games on three separate occasions during his career. In his rookie season, Hextall led the Flyers to the Stanley Cup finals. Despite losing to the Wayne Gretzky/Mark Messier lead Edmonton Oilers in a seven game series, the league awarded Hextall the Conn Smythe Trophy for Player Most Valuable to his team during the playoffs. Hextall also won the Vezina Trophy in his rookie season, an award voted on by all the leagues’ GMs and awarded to the NHL’s Most Valuable Goaltender.
Hextall’s # 27 jersey was retired by the Flyers on February 6th, 2008. He currently holds team records for most career games (489), most career wins (240), most career playoff wins (45), most career points by a goaltender (28) and most career penalty minutes by a goaltender (476). Happy Birthday Ron!