Last night, in the midst of the Flyers unsuccessfully trying to tame Unfrozen Caveman Hockey Player and the Southeast-leading (???) Caps, the Orange and Black inducted Ronald James Hextall into the Flyers Hall of Fame. (Apparently, if you’re good enough to be enshrined into something, people will start referring to you by full name as a token of respect. That’s why it’s best to not have a middle name that blows.) I feel the need to write something in his honor since he serves as my namesake. I would only assume that if marijuana was inducted into a Drug Hall of Fame, Weed would do the same.
First, a bit about the Flyers Hall of Fame. To date, there are 18 members of the Hall, which was founded in 1988. Back in ’88, team brass probably came up with the idea as a way to cheer up fans after a soul-crushing defeat in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup to Gretzky and Friends. In those first six years, all of the Flyers greats (keep in mind, they’d been around no more than 25 years), were enshrined. From the Cup years, we paid tribute to Parent, Clarkie, Barber, MacLeish, Leach, Van Impe, several franchise architects, and the owner Ed Snider. ’94 rolled around, and clearly, we were out of legendary figures. So we honored Tim Kerr, a scoring machine in the eighties, who had been retired for less than three years. Had we continued to feel the need to induct someone every damn year, I assure you we’d have plaques for Mikael Renberg, Joel Otto, Petr Svoboda, and Garry Galley.
Thank God we stopped that.
Since 1994, only four had been added to the list. The P-team of Propp and Poulin, another Cup player in Joe Watson, and Mark Howe. Finally, however, the one notable goalie since Parent has gained recognition. Said Hextall, “We were tailor-made for each other.”
Matt P at the 700 Level did an excellent write-up of Hexy’s career, so there’s no need to rehash stat lines and his mammoth rookie season. Ron Hextall was a stalwart in net and has the fiery personality of a team captain. (And yet, goalies can’t wear the C.) From his clutch saves to his occasional donnybrook, this style of play encapsulates the blue collar fan in Philly. (Roman Cechmanek, on the other hand….)
So yeah, I wear the Hextall454 name for several reasons I suppose. It shows where I came from, sure. It takes a shot at a certain gel-based muscle relief product, which would be a far more relevant barb had IcyHot not taken its market share and made it irrelevant. (IcyHot, by the way, would be an outstanding nickname for current netminder Marty Biron.) But more than anything, it pays tribute to the best Flyers goalie of my lifetime. Congrats, Hexy.