|Born||May 3, 1964 |
Brandon, Manitoba, Canada
|Height||6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)|
|Weight||205 lb (93 kg; 14 st 9 lb)|
|Played for||Philadelphia Flyers|
New York Islanders
|NHL Draft||119th overall, 1982|
Ron Hextall (born Ronald Jeffrey Hextall on May 3, 1964) is a Canadian former professional ice hockey goaltender who played for 13 seasons in the National Hockey League (NHL) for the Philadelphia Flyers, Quebec Nordiques and the New York Islanders. He is currently the general manager of the Philadelphia Flyers.
Junior Hockey Career
Ron began his junior hockey career with the Melville Millionaires in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL). In his only season with the club, he played 37 games with a goals against average (GAA) of 6.57.
In one game that season (against the Prince Albert Raiders), he faced 105 shots, and made 84 saves, a performance described as brilliant by the Regina Leader-Post.
Even though the Millionaires lost 21–2, the reporter noted that if it was not for Hextall, the Raiders could have scored "34 or 35". Millionaires teammate Mark Odnokon praised his performance, particularly the way "he lived up to his responsibilities and stayed in there until the end."
In 2009, Ron was inducted as one of the inaugural members of the SJHL Hall of Fame.
Ron returned to Brandon for the 1981–82 season, playing for the Brandon Wheat Kings in the Western Hockey League (WHL).
He played 30 regular season games for the Wheat Kings, during which he recorded a GAA of 5.71. The Wheat Kings reached the playoffs but were swept four games to none (4–0) in the first-round by the Regina Pats.
Ron played in three of the games, but completed only two and had a GAA of 9.32. His team was regarded as a poor one at the time by critics and he had to battle in each game. Flyers' scout Gerry Melnyk said he could understand why many teams did not rate Ron: "There were teams who thought he was loony."
Melnyk claimed it was these attributes which he was attracted by and he felt that Ron could fit in well with the Flyers. Subsequently, the Flyers chose Hextall in the sixth round of the 1982 NHL Entry Draft, 119th overall.
After his selection, Ron remained with Brandon for two further seasons. He played 44 games in 1982–83 with a GAA of 5.77 during a season in which the Wheat Kings did not qualify for the playoffs.
The following year was Ron's most successful in the WHL: a GAA of 4.29 across his 46 regular season games (which included 29 wins) more than in the previous two seasons combined.
He played in ten of the twelve playoff games, recording five wins and five losses, with a GAA of 3.75.
During the 1983–84 season, Ron set a record for the most penalty minutes accumulated by a goaltender, being assessed for 117 minutes during the regular season.
Professional Playing Career
Ron arrived at the Philadelphia Flyers training camp in 1984 with the expectation of playing in the NHL. However, the Flyers subsequently sent him to their farm team in the International Hockey League (IHL), the Kalamazoo Wings.
Although disappointed, he was now playing at a higher level than at WHL and made his debut in professional hockey. He played 19 games for Kalamazoo, recording six wins and a GAA of 4.35.
During the season, he moved to the Flyers' other farm team; Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League (AHL), where he played 11 times, with four wins, and a GAA of 3.68.
In the following season, Ron remained with Hershey, appearing in 53 games during the 1985–86 season. He recorded 30 wins and the lowest GAA average of his career to that point, 3.41. The Bears finished the regular season as league leaders, and won the John D. Chick Trophy as the South Division Champions.
Ron lived up to his aggressive reputation in the Conference final, played against the St. Catharines Saints, fighting three different members of the opposition side during a single bench-clearing brawl. The Bears advanced to the Calder Cup final, having beaten the New Haven Nighthawks 4–1 and the St. Catharines Saints 4–3.
In the final, they faced the Adirondack Red Wings, who won the championship by four games to two.
Ron played 13 games in the playoffs, of which his team won five, and his GAA was 3.23. He was named as the Dudley "Red" Garrett Memorial Award winner, as the AHL's outstanding rookie player.
Looking back on his time in the AHL, Ron reflected that despite his initial disappointment at not being selected to play for the Flyers straight away, "the two years that I spent in the American League got me to the point where I was sure I could be a No. 1 goaltender at the NHL level."
First Three Seasons
After his performances in the AHL, Ron was invited to the Flyers' training camp as a long-shot.
His play in four exhibition games convinced Flyers' coach Mike Keenan to call up him to the NHL and to play him in the opening game of the season against the Edmonton Oilers.
Ron conceded a goal from the first shot he faced in the game, but he allowed no further shots past him, leading his side to a 2–1 victory.
Ron continued to display the aggressive nature with which he had always played, swinging his stick at Brad Smith and Troy Murray early in his first NHL season.
Despite these swipes, he claimed at the time that, "I used to be worse, I've learned to control my temper."
Two months after making these comments, Ron was involved in a fight with opposing New Jersey Devils goaltender Alain Chevrier.
Having lost to the Devils, the Flyers wanted revenge for Steve Richmond's punch on Kjell Samuelsson at the end of the game; Hextall targeted Chevrier in a fight labelled by Chico Resch as "like a heavyweight against a lightweight."
Ron and seven other players were fined $300 each for their part in the brawl. In 66 regular season games during his rookie year, he posted a GAA of 3.00, and recorded 37 wins.
He was awarded the Vezina Trophy for the most outstanding goaltender by the NHL general managers, but he was second in the voting to Luc Robitaille for the Calder Memorial Trophy, awarded to the "player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition". He led the Flyers to top their Conference, and win the Prince of Wales Trophy.
The Flyers progressed to face the Edmonton Oilers in the Stanley Cup Finals, having beaten the New York Rangers 4–2, the New York Islanders 4–3 and the Montreal Canadiens 4–2.
Following their series victory over Montreal, Flyers captain Dave Poulin identified Ron as the team's leading performer.
In the fourth game of the Finals, Ron received two penalties; first a ten-minute misconduct penalty for "expressing his displeasure at the fourth Oiler goal" and later a five-minute penalty for slashing Kent Nilsson.
In the latter incident, Ron had received a slash from Glenn Anderson for which there was no call from the referees and he sought revenge by striking the back of Nilsson's knees.
After the game Hextall expressed remorse for striking the wrong player but not for his action, saying:
"If somebody slaps you in the face, you're going to slap him back, it's not like he gave me a touch to jar the puck. What's he going to do next, break my arm? I'm sorry it was Nilsson and not Anderson I hit, but I just reacted. At the time, it seemed the right thing to do."
The performance of Hextall in the next game tied the series and forced a seventh game; at the end, the Flyers team surrounded Ron in congratulation and Edmonton Oilers player Kevin Lowe said that he "held them in it".
Between the sixth and seventh games, the Oilers' forward Wayne Gretzky described Ron as "probably the best goaltender I've ever played against in the NHL." Edmonton won the final game of the series to take the Stanley Cup.
Robin Finn (writing in The New York Times) said that the team won the title "without their trademark, those endless waves of madcap scoring," primarily due to the "heroics of Hextall".
Flyers teammate Rick Tocchet said that when he realised his side were going to lose, his "first thought was to feel sorry for Ronny Hextall, because he did everything he could to get us here and keep us in it."
Ron was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy for the most valuable player in the playoffs, becoming only the fourth player from a losing side to be awarded the trophy.
During the off-season, he received an eight-game suspension for the start of the 1987–88 season after his slash on Nilsson.
Speaking on behalf of the NHL, Brian O'Neill said that: "There is no justification for any player to swing his stick in retaliation and this is especially the case for a goaltender whose stick, because of its weight, can cause serious injury."
The Flyers had a difficult start to the 1987–88 season, partly attributed by Keenan to the absence of Hextall. Hextall returned to the Flyers line-up against the New York Rangers, and made over 40 saves in a 2–2 tie.
Just over a month later, Ron became the first goaltender to shoot at goal and score in the NHL when he scored an empty net goal towards the end of a game against the Boston Bruins.
The Flyers led 4–2 which prompted the Bruins to pull their goaltender in favour of an extra attacker. The puck was dumped into the Philadelphia zone by the Bruins and he picked it up without any players near him; his shot fired into the air, bounced and rolled into the net.
Ron had targeted becoming the "first NHL goaltender to score a true goal" over a year earlier, and, speaking after the game, commented that: "I knew I could do it. It was a matter of when."
Despite his early season suspension, and a shoulder injury late in the season which made him miss five games, Ron played 62 of the 67 games for which he was available during the regular season. He recorded 30 wins, and a GAA of 3.50, slightly higher than during his rookie year.
Ron struggled in the playoffs: he was replaced in successive games of the series against the Washington Capitals having conceded four goals in each.
In the final two games of the series, which the Capitals won 4–3, he gave up a further 12 goals, and completed the playoffs with a GAA of 4.75.
In each of his first two seasons, Ron accumulated 104 penalty minutes during the regular season, the first time that a goaltender had collected over 100. In the 1988–89 season, he broke his own record, being assessed 113 penalty minutes, the most by any goaltender in an NHL season (as of 2015).
Ron completed the 1988–89 regular season with 30 wins, the third consecutive season in which he had recorded so many, and the first time a goaltender had recorded 30 wins in each of their first three seasons in the NHL.
The Flyers finished fourth in the Patrick Division and qualified for the playoffs. They faced the Washington Capitals in the first round, and the teams shared the first four games. The Flyers won the fifth, despite being 5–4 down in the third period. Flyers' defenceman Mark Howe credited their victory to Hextall.
Late in the game, the Capitals pulled their goaltender and Ron scored the second goal of his career. The puck was shot into the Flyers' left defensive zone by Scott Stevens and he went around the back of his net, controlled the puck and shot at goal. He became the first goaltender to score a goal in the NHL playoffs.
The Flyers won 8–5, and went on to win the series 4–2, which Joe Sexton of the New York Times attributed primarily to Hextall's return to form.
Against the Penguins in the Patrick Division Final, Ron's performances were mixed: he under-performed early in the series, and in game five was swapped out of the net and then reinstated twice during a 10–7 defeat for the Flyers. He faced 17 shots in the game, conceding nine of the Penguins goals.
After the game, Ron denied being out of control, despite having assaulted one of the officials and chasing Rob Brown around the ice. He said, "I like to think I'm strong mentally. Hey, if I was as out of control as people say I am, I wouldn't be in the National Hockey League."
The Penguins coach, Gene Ubriaco agreed with Ron's assessment, and believed the goaltender lost control intentionally: "He uses a loss of control to his advantage, in a way. He's the extreme example of controlled violence. And they [the Flyers] live and die with it."
The Flyers won the next game to force a decider, but Ron was ruled out of the contest with a first degree sprain of the medial collateral ligament (MCL) in his right knee.
Ron's injury kept him out of the first three games of the series against the Canadiens, during which the Canadiens took a 2–1 lead. He returned for the fourth game, but he could not prevent his side losing 3–0.
The Flyers won the following game to extend the series to six games, but lost the next game 4–2 and they were eliminated.
Ron displayed his violent side during the final minutes of game six, skating out of his crease to attack Chris Chelios.
He claimed that the attack was in retaliation for Chelios' hit on his Flyer teammate Brian Propp in game one when Chelios caught Flyer Propp with a "flying elbow" to the side of the head, rendering him unconscious.
Ron was given a 12-game suspension for his actions at the beginning of the 1989–90 season. Following the announcement of the suspension, he stated his disappointment and added that his intention was to fight rather than hurt Chelios.
Contract rebel and injury troubles
Prior to the 1989–90 season, Ron became unhappy that his eight-year, $4 million contract was only earning him $325,000 a year and he hired a confrontational agent, Ritch Winter, to renegotiate his contract.
The Flyers refused to deal with the agent and at a tearful press conference, he declared his contract invalid and announced that he would not take part in the team's training camp.
After negotiations about which neither side revealed details, Ron returned to practice with the team on October 20, 1989 (42 days later).
He suffered a slight groin pull during his first game back, and in his second, he hurt his left hamstring. Just under a month later while playing for the Hershey Bears in an attempt to establish his fitness, he was carried off the ice after once more hurting his groin.
In total that season, Ron appeared nine times; once for the Bears in the AHL, and eight times for the Flyers. In the NHL, he recorded a GAA of 4.15, the highest he averaged during any single season of the NHL.
Ron continued to be plagued by groin injuries during the next two seasons, twice straining his left groin muscle in the 1990–91 season.
The Flyers' orthopaedist, Dr. Arthur Bartolozzi, suggested a possible reason for his series of injuries, saying:
"He is in motion anticipating the shot before the guy even hits the puck. So he's already on the ice or doing a split or anticipating the shot well before it's made. That's probably what makes him a great goaltender. But it's also what may predispose him to injury."
In the 1990–91 season, Ron appeared in 36 NHL games, less than half of those played by the Flyers that season. He recorded 13 wins, with a GAA of 3.13. For the second successive year, the Flyers failed to qualify for the playoffs.
Early the following season, he received the third significant suspension of his career, missing six games for slashing Detroit forward Jim Cummins during a pre-season game.
Suspension, further injuries and a lack of form meant that Ron appeared 45 times for the Flyers. He recorded 16 wins during the season, resulting in his lowest win percentage in the NHL, 35.56%.
In the 1992 off-season, Ron was part of the trade which brought Eric Lindros to the Philadelphia Flyers.
Lindros (who had been picked first overall by the Quebec Nordiques in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft) had refused to play for Quebec during the 1991–92 season, forcing the club's owner Marcel Aubut to trade him.
While negotiating to get the best possible deal, Aubut traded Lindros to both the Flyers and the Rangers, meaning an arbitrator had to rule which club should receive him.
During the ten days between the trades being made and the arbitrator's ruling, there was a lot of speculation about which Flyers' and Rangers' players were involved in the potential trades. Ron was among the players mentioned, something which he was unhappy about.
Speaking through his agent, Ron admitted to being "scared to death" about the possibility of moving with his family to the French-speaking area.
On July 30, 1992, the arbitrator ruled in favour of the Philadelphia Flyers and Hextall was traded to Quebec along with five other players, two first round selections in 1993 & 1994 and $15,000,000 cash for Lindros.
In the New York Times preview of the Adams Division for the 1992–93 season, Ron was described as "inconsistent and injury-prone" while the players gained in the Lindros trade are collected dubbed as "good players but no superstars."
Ron regained some of the confidence he displayed during his first years in Philadelphia, and although a strained thigh muscle kept him out towards the end of the regular season, he helped the Nordiques to reach the playoffs for the first time since 1987.
Quebec was eliminated 4–2 by the Montreal Canadiens in the first round, during which Ron was praised as being "at the top of his game".
New York Islanders
After only one season at the Nordiques, Ron was traded to the New York Islanders in return for Mark Fitzpatrick during the off-season, a move made because the Nordiques could only protect one goalie for the expansion draft and instead of losing him chose to trade him to Long Island.
The two teams also traded first round draft picks. The move was a surprise for Hextall, who had settled in well in Quebec with his family.
Don Maloney, the Islanders' General Manager, described the trade as "too good to pass up". The trade was praised by the New York Times as possibly "the best in the league over the off season".
He had a poor beginning to his career as an Islander, conceding 23 goals in 14 periods at the start of the season, resulting in his replacement prior to the third period against the New Jersey Devils in mid-October.
During that game, in which the Islanders were playing at home, Ron was jeered by the crowd, something to which he had become accustomed during his time with Philadelphia. In contrast to the fan's derision, Hextall's teammates backed him, taking some of the blame themselves, and expressing their belief in their new colleague.
Steve Thomas suggested that Hextall was "one of the best goalies in the league, easily in the top five or 10," while coach Al Arbour dismissed dropping Ron, saying that "We're not playing well in front of the goaltender and he can only be as good as the guys in front of him."
Any thoughts that Arbour might have had of replacing Ron as the team's number-one goaltender were limited by the play of his back-up, Tom Draper (who recorded a GAA of 4.23 in the seven NHL games he played that season).
This (coupled with the lack of experienced goaltenders at the club's IHL affiliate), the Salt Lake Golden Eagles, resulted in Hextall starting 20 games in a row until Jamie McLennan was called up from the Golden Eagles.
The break and challenge that Ron was afforded by McLennan's call-up helped him to recover his form, and in February, he made consecutive shutouts against the Ottawa Senators and Washington Capitals.
He recorded another shutout in his next home game, against the Flyers and was shortly thereafter named as the NHL's player of the week.
During the regular season with the Islanders, Ron recorded a career-best five shutouts, and a GAA of 3.08, the best since his rookie year. Maloney described his time with the team as having "a slow start and a disastrous finish".
The Islanders reached the playoffs, but were swept 4–0 by their rivals, the New York Rangers. Ron played three of the four games, conceding 16 goals for a GAA of 6.08, the worst average of his NHL career by some distance.
After the season had concluded, Maloney said that he believed that only two Islanders players had distinguished themselves during the 1993–94 season, with one of those being Jamie McLennan.
He also praised Ron's play during his long sequence of starts, but five months later, Maloney traded him back to Philadelphia.
He described the move as being two-pronged: it would appease the fans and prevent the derisory calls when the team were struggling, and it would give McLennan a chance to establish himself as the number-one goaltender.
Ron (along with a sixth round draft pick) was traded to the Flyers in return for goaltender Tommy Soderstrom.
Returning to Philadelphia
In his first season back in Philadelphia, Ron played 31 games, recording his lowest GAA in a season to that point, 2.89.
The Flyers reached the playoffs for the first time in six years.
After defeating the Buffalo Sabres in the first round, the Flyers faced the New York Rangers in the second. Following the Rangers sweep of the Islanders the previous season, the Rangers' fans chanted "We Want Hex-tall!" during their game-six victory in the first round.
The Flyers' coach, Terry Murray dismissed the chants, stating that "emotionally he's really under control." The New York Times supported this belief, claiming that "this isn't the same Ron Hextall they remember so fondly".
The Flyers won the first two games of the series and at Madison Square Garden, Ron had a quiet game in which he even acted as a calming influence to teammates Kevin Haller and Dmitri Yushkevich, a turnaround from the aggressiveness he had displayed earlier in his career.
The Flyers swept the Rangers 4–0 and advanced to the Conference Final against the New Jersey Devils, to whom they lost 4–2.
Ron's statistics in the playoffs were his best since his rookie year: he recorded ten wins with a GAA of 2.81.
For the first time in three seasons, Ron was not traded during the off-season, and remained with the Flyers for the 1995–96 season. During the regular season, he improved on his figures from the previous year, passing 30 wins for the first time since 1988–89.
Ron's GAA of 2.17 was both the best in the NHL that year, and the best of his career. In the playoffs, he played in all twelve of the Flyers' games, a 4–2 first round victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning followed by a 4–2 defeat to the Florida Panthers.
Ron's GAA of 2.13 was his lowest recorded in any post-season. He continued to perform well over the next two seasons, passing 30 wins again in 1996–97, and adding another nine shutouts to the four he had made in 1995–96.
Over his first five seasons in the NHL, Ron only made one shutout while in his final six seasons, he achieved the feat on nineteen occasions.
The Flyers progressed to the 1997 Stanley Cup Finals even though Ron only appeared in eight playoff games, finishing seven of them.
Throughout the season and the playoffs, the uncertainty in goal resulted in Ron and Garth Snow swapping places regularly.
Snow started nine of the ten games during the first two rounds, but he replaced him in game two of the Conference Final, and remained the starting goaltender for the remainder of the series.
A loss against the Detroit Red Wings in the first game of the Stanley Cup finals resulted in coach Murray switching back to Snow for the second game. He returned for games three and four, but the Flyers were swept 4–0 by the Red Wings.
In his final two playing seasons, both spent at the Flyers, Ron made fewer appearances; he played 46 games in 1997–98 and 23 the following year. He maintained a sub-three GAA in each year, repeating the achievement in each of his final five seasons in the NHL having failed to do so in the previous eight seasons.
At the end of the 1998–99 season, Ron was waived by the Flyers and after going unclaimed in the expansion draft, he announced his retirement on September 6, 1999.
Upon his retirement from playing in 1999, Ron immediately joined the Philadelphia Flyers' set-up as a Professional Scout.
He was promoted to Director of Professional Player Personnel three years later and was considered by the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame to be a key factor in the success experienced by the Flyers during the early 2000s when they won the Atlantic Division three times, and reached the Eastern Conference Finals on two occasions.
In June of 2006, he moved to the Los Angeles Kings to take on the role of Vice President and the General Manager.
In addition, he served as the General Manager of the Manchester Monarchs of the AHL, the Kings' primary affiliate.
On June 11, 2012, Ron won the Stanley Cup that eluded him in 1987 and 1997, this time as the Assistant General Manager of the Los Angeles Kings.
On July 15, 2013, Ron returned to the Flyers, being named Assistant General Manager and Director of Hockey Operations.
On May 7, 2014, he was named General Manager of the Flyers, following the promotion of Paul Holmgren to team President.
|1981–82||Brandon Wheat Kings||WHL||30||12||11||0||1398||133||0||5.71||.864||0||0||0|
|1982–83||Brandon Wheat Kings||WHL||44||13||30||0||2589||249||0||5.77||—||0||4||66|
|1983–84||Brandon Wheat Kings||WHL||46||29||13||2||2670||190||0||4.27||.883||0||8||117|
|1993–94||New York Islanders||NHL||65||27||26||6||3581||184||5||3.08||.898||0||3||52|
|1981–82||Brandon Wheat Kings||WHL||3||0||2||103||16||0||9.32||—||—||—||—|
|1983–84||Brandon Wheat Kings||WHL||10||5||5||592||37||0||3.75||—||0||1||8|
|1993–94||New York Islanders||NHL||3||0||3||158||16||0||6.08||.800||0||0||4|
|Senior int'l totals||5||1||2||1||273||13||0||2.86|
Ron's first international recognition came when he was named as part of Team Canada's squad for the 1987 Canada Cup.
During a practice session, he chopped Sylvain Turgeon's arm with his stick during a scrimmage, claiming that the left wing was too close to the goal. Turgeon missed the tournament with a fractured arm; Hextall was back-up to Grant Fuhr and did not play a single game.
Ron would later represented Canada in the 1992 World Championships, playing five games to record one win and a GAA of 2.86 as Canada were eliminated in the quarter-finals.
Ron brought a new style of goaltending to the NHL, providing support to his two defencemen due to his willingness to come out of the net and play the puck. He was known for his excellent puck-handling ability.
In his time, goaltenders would limit themselves to stopping the puck behind the net, make short push passes, or at most clear the puck out of the zone with "clumsy" backhands.
He distinguished himself by using his stick as a defenceman would; for example, he was capable of starting a counterattack, easily lifting the puck or bouncing it off the glass.
Ron's puck-handling ability meant that it was inadvisable to try a dump and chase strategy of sending the puck in a corner, regaining it, and establishing an attack in the offensive zone because he would invariably get to the puck first and clear it out of his zone towards a waiting player in the neutral zone. He was described by former NHL player Peter McNab as the "original outlet pass goalie".
While playing junior hockey, Ron's coaches advised him that he would not reach the NHL if he continued to move the puck. Not everyone agreed; NHL goaltender Darren Pang described feeling as if "he had just witnessed Superman flying out of a phone booth" when he saw Ron's puckhandling ability in a minor league game.
Former NHL goaltender Johnny Bower (while scouting for the Toronto Maple Leafs in Brandon) remarked that Ron would at times let in soft goals and doubted if he would reach the NHL; he retained a tendency to let in occasional weak goals throughout his career.
Ron claims his adventurous style stemmed from his youth, when he played on outdoor ice rinks with a skater's stick, rather than the heftier goaltender's stick.
Martin Brodeur modelled his own play on that of Ron, saying "I love the fact that he was playing the puck. He was one of the first goalies that came out and played the puck. He was a little rough for my liking, but it was entertaining. The playing of the puck was the big thing."
Ron's mobility provided extra passing opportunities for his defencemen: when killing a penalty they would frequently pass the puck back to him, relieving some of the pressure on his team. He is described on the Hockey Hall of Fame's Legends of Hockey website as being "perhaps the game's most mobile goalie of all time."
Frank Orr (a columnist in the Toronto Star) suggested that Ron's aggressive nature (which resulted in three suspensions of six or more games during his NHL career) was an intentional part of his game designed to protect him.
He theorized that because Ron's style of play frequently took him out of his goal crease, the threat of physical violence lessened the chances of him being challenged by an attacker when out of position.
In the 1993 playoff series between the Montreal Canadiens and Ron's Nordiques, the Canadiens' coach Jacques Demers designed a plan to disrupt Ron's play after Montreal had lost its two first games to Quebec. He noted that Ron would be off his game if he were disturbed or bumped.
Montreal then won four straight games to win the series in six games. Demers felt that Ron's emotional play lessened his effectiveness; while acknowledging him as a "great competitor", he felt that "he didn't reach the level of a Grant Fuhr or a Martin Brodeur [because] he lost his cool if you got in his face."
Rogie Vachon (who served as the General Manager of the Los Angeles Kings during the early part of Ron's playing career) praised his goaltending ability, but he felt that his aggressive conduct "shouldn't be in hockey and I think it tarnishes his image, too. He can play. He doesn't need that (stuff)."
His view was shared by many, leading Ron to be tagged as one of the most "revered and reviled" players in the league.
Former NHL goaltender John Davidson commented that Hextall "thrived" on being a villain; he further described him as a "great character" and noted that "when he came to town, fans would want to race to the arena to boo him."
|Dudley "Red" Garrett Memorial Award||1986|
|AHL First All-Star Team||1986|
|Conn Smythe Trophy||1987|
|NHL All-Rookie Team||1987|
|NHL First All-Star Team||1987|
|NHL All-Star Game||1988|
|Bobby Clarke Trophy||1987, 1988, 1989|
|Inducted into Flyers Hall of Fame||2008|
- Most penalty minutes by a goaltender in a single season: 113 (1988–89)
- Most career games played by a goaltender: 489
- Most career wins: 240
- Most career playoff wins: 45
- Most career points by a goaltender: 28
- Most career penalty minutes by a goaltender: 476
Ron is the third and youngest child of Bryan and Fay Hextall.
He is a third-generation NHL player: his grandfather, Hall of Famer Bryan Hextall played 11 seasons with the New York Rangers and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1969.
His father played in the NHL for 10 seasons, most notably for the Pittsburgh Penguins and his uncle, Dennis Hextall played 14 seasons of NHL hockey, not staying with any one club for longer than five years.
During his youth, Ron saw his father and uncle often roughed up by the Philadelphia Flyers, whose aggressive style of play for much of the 1970s gave the team the name "Broad Street Bullies". He later reflected that during this period he "hated the Flyers."
Because of his father's career, Ron's education was far from stable; each year began at Brandon and once the hockey season commenced in October, he moved to a school nearer to where his father was playing.
At school, he achieved B and C grades, putting in the minimum amount of effort, but his mind remained on hockey, and specifically goaltending, saying, "Everybody else would be working and I'd be drawing pictures of Tony Esposito and Jimmy Rutherford," he recalled. Hextall came to mostly enjoy the constant moving, later saying "I got to hang around NHL rinks. What more would I have wanted?"
Although both his father and grandfather played as forwards, Ron's father was happy for him to play in goal, but insisted that he try other positions to improve his skating: Bryan believed that his son would have made a good defenceman.
His mother thought her son's love for hockey exceeded that of her husband's teammates and believed it would drive him to achieve his aim of goaltending in the NHL.
Each summer, Ron received training at the hockey school at which his father taught, but the hockey programs in Pittsburgh and Atlanta were sub-standard and meant that during his teenage years, he was behind many of his fellow players. He describes himself as "[not] what you would call real polished" in his first year of junior hockey, aged 17.
Ron married Diane Ogibowski (a former figure skater) and the pair have four children: Kristin, Brett, Rebecca and Jeffrey.
Brett was drafted by the Phoenix Coyotes as a sixth-round pick (159th overall) in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. He was signed to an entry-level contract with the team in April of 2011 and if he plays in the NHL will become the second fourth-generation player in NHL history after Blake Geoffrion.