Ron Hextall once stood at the crossroads between the 'Broad Street Bullies' era and what became the modern Philadelphia Flyers' story. Today, 'Hexy' increased the scope of his legacy when he was named general manager by now-President Paul Holmgren live on Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia.
Hextall revolutionized the goaltending position in the 1980s. Beyond regularly venting aggression in the crease, he used his stick to serve as de facto third defenseman. His actions led to rules changes and resulted in Philadelphia nearly capturing its third Stanley Cup.
The legendary Mike Keenan years created turmoil across the National Hockey League, including two trips to the Finals in 1985 and 1987 against the Edmonton Oilers. It was during the Flyers' second appearance that the team's newfound netminder led one of the great playoff runs in League history.
Trailing three games to one and facing arguably the greatest offensive force of all-time, number 27 fronted a defense that battled Wayne Gretzky's (and Mark Messier's) Canadian army to stalemate through the penultimate game of the 1987 season. Cheers emanating from a surreal Game 6 victory (3-2) are still hovering above the empty space that will never exorcise the Philadelphia Spectrum's indestructible ghost. Game 7 in Edmonton resulted in a devastating, yet honorable, 3-1 loss.
By the bitter end of his first NHL season Hextall stood with All-Rookie Team, All-Star, Vezina and Conn Smythe honors, yet without the only prize he desired. A quarter-century would pass before he could claim the silver chalice.
The Stanley Cup eluded him again in 1997, during his return Flyers' engagement and a trip to the Finals against the Detroit Red Wings. However, after a seven-year post-retirement stint as a scout and personnel executive in Philadelphia, Hextall accepted a position as assistant GM with the Los Angeles Kings (aka 'Flyers West') in 2006. By 2012, his meeting with Lord Stanley took place.
After agreeing to a lateral move to Philadelphia last season, the iced etchings were discernible: Hextall would eventually become the Flyers' top front office boss. By early May 2014, his most-desired promotion happened.
Now, one of the most fabled 'Bullies' will attempt to heal an open orange wound. If Hextall eventually realizes his goal, countless souls from Philadelphia's hockey Purgatory will be released. God bless the NHL if, or when, that long-feared judgment day arrives.