Dear Gentle Readers,
Honestly, last night, I didn't care about the game with the Caps.
I know that every game is supposed to be about the game, no matter what promotion is on tap or who's being honored. But, let's face it, every rule has an exception.
Far as I'm concerned, Ron Hextall is a better-than-great exception to that rule in Philadelphia.
Ron Hextall is a Flyer, no matter what. He was one when he wore the colors of the Nordiques* and Islanders. He'll be one for the rest of his life, and that's in his own words.
During the Caps-Flyers mini-meet-up in Hershey last December, CapsChick asked me how I came to be a Flyers fan. Here's my answer:
Ron Hextall is the reason I love hockey.
In real life, I'm a pacifist. While I can usually take or leave the fights in the course of a game, for some reason I loved his bad@$$ mofu ways. One moment, Ron would make one of those saves that seems to come once in a season or even a lifetime. In the next, he'd be punishing opposing players as if he were a defenseman, not a goalie.
There's also the fact that Hexie was the first goalie to score a regular season goal and a play-off goal by intentionally shooting the puck into the net. It's still a small club, and, thanks to the goalie trap, likely to stay that way for the foreseeable future.
Ron Hextall, thanks for all the memories and highlight reels. I may have expanded my hockey horizons since I my initiation into hockey fandom almost two decades ago, but you'll always be first in my book.
Best wishes to you and your family (because they were right there with you),
*Hockey School for Newbies: Didn't know that the Quebec Nordiques are the old-school Colorado Avalanche? Schedule some time with Joe Sakic. He can tell you all about it.