Flyers’ Hextall Recalls His Greatest Season: Fan Rewind

The Philadelphia Flyers have had three legendary goalies in team history, Bernie Parent, Pelle Lindbergh and Ron Hextall.

Hextall signing a jersey for former teammate Brad Marsh.
Sean O'Brien

Hextall recalled his greatest season, during a one-on-one conversation that I had with him, after the Winter Classic Alumni game between the Flyers and the New York Rangers.

The 1987 Stanley Cup Final

I asked Hextall about his memories of the 1986-87 season, when the Flyers pushed the powerhouse Edmonton Oilers to the seven-game limit in the Stanley Cup Final.

It was during that season that the 22-year-old rookie created one of the most monumental goaltending performances in a losing cause in NHL history. Number 27's efforts earned him the Conn Smythe Trophy. After the season he also was honored by the League with the Vezina trophy.

"I was just talking with (Bob) Clarke a few weeks ago and we were saying that if we would have played anyone other than the Oilers, we would have won the Stanley Cup," Hextall said.

"That was a hard-working, committed, and close-knit team and that's why we accomplished what we did. But, it certainly didn't feel like an accomplishment at that time.

"The heart and soul of that team was something that I'll never forget."

His current role in Los Angeles

Hextall is serving in his sixth season as Vice President and Assistant General Manager of the Los Angeles Kings.

I asked him what elements from his playing career he has been able to transfer to the King's front office.

"There's a lot of knowledge from being a player that can translate to dealing with certain situations that players are in, be it physically or mentally. There are also a lot of little things in understanding the dynamics of the travel, the long season and the grind that it can be at times. Dealing with the players, the egos and different personalities. It's certainly valuable."

The fans

Back surgery didn't allow Hextall to play in the Winter Classic Alumni game. However, 45,808 fans still gave the former Flyers great a rousing round of applause when they saw him in his old orange and black jersey as he was introduced just prior to the sold-out spectacle at Citizens Bank Park.

"It's was great to have been involved in an event like this in a city (Philadelphia) where I spent some very fond years. The fans were great and it was nice to see all the guys again," Hextall said.

Sean was born in the Philadelphia region and has written professionally for over two decades. Read his Sports Blog: Insight and follow him on Twitter @ SeanyOB

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Updated Wednesday, Jan 4, 2012