In spite of the fact that he has long since retired as a goaltender in the National Hockey League and has even gone on to great success as an NHL executive, when I think of NHL legend Ron Hextall the first thing that will always pop into my head are the wild moments he created on the ice, wild moments like this one.
For this throwback we go all the way back to 1989 on this very day, May 11th, when the Montreal Canadiens were facing off against Hextall and his Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers were on the verge of elimination in what was then called the Wales Conference Finals, and it was clear that Hextall had his sights set on one man and one man alone, and that man was another former NHL great in the form of Montreal Canadiens defenseman Chris Chelios. Hextall would later claim that the attack on Chelios came as the result of an elbow Chelios had delivered to Flyer Brian Propp in Game 1 the Wales Conference Final, an injury that saw Propp leave on a stretcher, and if you go back and watch that play you might even be inclined to say that Chelios may have had this one coming.
Hextall charged out of his net with just over a minute left in the game and went immediately after Chelios, a rare example of when Hextall as a goaltender truly served as an enforcer for the Flyers. Although Hextall did appear to get some shots in on Chelios and certainly roughed him up a bit while he was on top of the Habs defenseman, there was a ton of controversy following the incident due to the fact that Hextall was slapped with a huge 12 game suspension. It was somewhat unprecedented given the rather rough nature of the game of hockey back in those days, especially considering how little actual damage appeared to have been done to Chelios. I suppose that at the end of the day the NHL was looking to make an example of Hextall given that he was a goaltender, a position played by players who generally did not get involved in these type of conflicts.
One final note here, Patrick Roy challenged Hextall at the end of this video but the officials refused to let Hextall answer that challenge. I for one would have loved to have seen that showdown.