Stop Da Puck readers have voted former Philadelphia Flyers monster Ron Hextall hockey's all-time toughest goalie.
Hextall nabbed 47% of votes, followed a very distant second by hacker Billy Smith (17%), old-timer Gump Worsley (14%). Patrick Roy and Glenn Hall tied with 9% of votes each.
When I first showed my Mite son a video of Hextall - scoring goals, checking players into the side boards, slashing away at shins like they were cherry trees - he was blown away. "I didn't know goalies could check other guys!" he exclaimed, which was followed by a series of simple yet profound questions: Would he skate with the puck? ... Did other players hit him? ... When he got a fighting penalty, who played goal? ... Where is he now?
My son was fascinated to find out that Hexy now works at the ice rink a few miles down the street, at the training center for the L.A. Kings, for whom he works in the front office. Yes, Hexy works in a non-descript two-story building in an industrial neighborhood within earshot of LAX and nose-shot of a stinky oil refinery in the city of El Segundo.
But Hextall, who revolutionized the position with his ability to shoot and pass like a forward (not to mention beat the snot out of opposing teams' goons), enjoyed a playing career that was anything but ordinary.