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Top 100 Goalies: No. 45 — Ron Hextall

His quality netminding is often overshadowed by his penchant for fisticuffs and bodychecks.

If an unofficial NHL goaltending handbook ever existed, Ron Hextall burned it to a crisp the moment he donned a Philadelphia Flyers sweater. Nothing he accomplished in his career was ordinary.

Oddly, his greatest season was his first, in which he won the 1986-87 Vezina Trophy and took home the Conn Smythe Trophy in a losing effort. He helped the Flyers push the dynastic Edmonton Oilers to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final. The Oilers averaged a mammoth 4.65 goals per game that year, but Hextall held them to three or fewer five times in the series.

Hextall was a special athlete, known for his superb puckhandling, which was ahead of its time. He came from a hockey bloodline with a Hall of Famer for a grandfather and a father and uncle in the NHL, too.

But let’s be honest. When we think of Ron Hextall we think of one thing: violence. He’s the scariest, angriest, most volatile personality ever to fill a mask. Hextall regularly dropped the gloves and gleefully left his net to deliver crushing bodychecks. He topped 100 penalty minutes in each of his first three seasons – and no other NHL goalie has ever surpassed even 70 in a single year. He’s easily the league’s all-time leader in PIMs for a goalie, 94 ahead of Billy Smith.

Opponents had a tough time establishing a forecheck with Hextall around because of his puckhandling and physicality, but his freelancing and temper occasionally became liabilities. In the 1989 playoffs, Hextall earned a 12-game suspension for leaving his net and attacking Montreal’s Chris Chelios to avenge a hit earlier in the series that knocked Brian Propp unconscious. Hextall was a tranquil personality off the ice but was defined by his temper on it.

Injuries kept him from remaining a true workhorse netminder in the second half of his career. He thus never quite amassed a Hall of Fame resume. But he remains one of the most unique, entertaining and intimidating people ever to patrol the blue paint.

Born: May 3, 1964, Brandon, Man.
NHL Career: 1986-99
Teams: Phi, Que, NYI
Stats: 296-214-69, 2.97 GAA, .895 SP, 23 SO
All-Star: 1 (First-1)
Trophies: 2 (Vezina-1, Smythe-1)


On Dec. 8, 1987, Hextall became the first NHL netminder to score a “real” goal. Billy Smith had been credited with the first goalie goal in 1979, but Hextall was the first to actually fire the puck the length of the ice into a net.



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