Backchecking With Ron Hextall - Part Two
Friday, 10.29.2004 / 12:00 AM / News
Second of Two-Part Interview
By Zack Hill
Ron Hextall recently sat down for an in-depth interview with philadelphiaflyers.com to discuss his playing days, his present position with the Flyers and what he sees in the future for hockey.
The following is the second of a two-part interview:
Question: Did you model yourself after anyone?
Hextall:"No. My dad (Bryan) played, so I had some guys who I watched. Guys like Jimmy Rutherford, Les Binkley, Tony Esposito, Eddie Giacomin. I’m showing my age now. I kind of took a little bit here and a little bit there, but I really did not model myself after any one former goaltender."
Question: You followed your father’s footsteps all the way to the NHL, yet he was a center. What gives?
Hextall: "I’m not sure. My mother tells me that when I was two years old and I would throw a sock up the stairs and wait for it to come down and make the ‘big save.’ I can’t say where that came from. I started playing organized hockey when I was eight years old and my dad made me play forward. He told me to learn how to skate first and then if I still wanted to go in the net, then I could become a goaltender. I kind of fought him on that issue, but he won out. A couple of months into that season I saw our coach driving into the rink parking lot and his son wasn’t there and he happened to be our goalie. I figured this is my chance. Sure enough, the kid was sick and I played goal that day and from then on, you couldn’t get me out of the net."
Question: It is not quite like a sock bouncing down the steps, but what is it like when you get hit with a puck?
Hextall: "I did not mind it so much in a game because that was the object. But sometimes in practice, you get in those cold rinks and get smacked with a puck and it did not feel real good. It is part of the job."
Question: You were obviously pretty well protected with your gear, but did pucks ever sneak through all that armor?
Hextall:"Oh, yes. I remember the pucks that would strike my neck and collarbone. The elbow area was also bad. Back in the late 1980s and the early 1990s, the equipment was not quite as good as it is now. I had a tendency to let my equipment get really worn down and I’d still be wearing it. It got soft. There is a certain amount of distaste but, as a goalie, there is good pain and bad pain. It’s hard to explain. When you get hit with a puck, that was good pain. When the puck went by you and into the net, that was bad pain."
Question: How crazy were the goalies of old who didn’t even wear masks?
Hextall: "There is no question that they were a little crazy. I’m not sure what they were thinking. If you look back at the old films and the way they played, the goalies pulled their heads away from the puck. They play a smarter game than guys do now. With the obvious lack of equipment they had back then, they pulled their face away and they slid a lot. But, to answer the question, they were crazy for sure."
Question: Describe the perfect goaltender.
Hextall:"The perfect goaltender would be big and extremely mobile on his feet. He would have good hockey sense, which means he could read the play. He would be able to anticipate very well. He would be very competitive, but have a lot of poise.
Question: Who is the best in the game today?
Hextall: "I would have to say Martin Brodeur of the New Jersey Devils. "
Question: OK, back to the perfect goaltender. Give me a present day goaltender that is best representative in the following criteria.
Hextall: "The Florida Panthers Roberto Luongo. At 6’3"and 205 pounds, he is an ideal size for a goalie."
Hextall: "Miika Kiprusoff of the Calgary Flames."
Hextall: Robert Esche of the Flyers.
Hextall: Brodeur and Eddie Belfour of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Question: How does Robert Esche rank?
Hextall:"Robert has come a long way in a couple of years. He has an awful lot of talent and he’s in the process of developing into one of the better goaltenders in the league. He’s got a lot of ability and his maturity is starting to shine through. We expect him to be one of the top goalies in the near future."
Click here to read the first of the two-part interview