June 10, 2010
THEY TELL THE STORIES, fans of this team do, tell the stories of valiant efforts in face of all odds. They tell of Hexy carrying an injury-plagued team past a more talented Montreal team in 1987, tell of that rally from 3-1 to scare Wayne Gretzky and the greatest hockey team ever assembled in a seventh game. They still talk about what might have been if Leon Stickle wasn't so awfully human in 1980, what might have been if Keith Primeau had not been so hurt and worn down in that Game 7 against Tampa Bay in 2004.
April 6, 1999 |
Nobody ever embodied the stuff the Flyers are supposed to be about better than Ron Hextall. That's why it was so painful to watch it happen to him again last night, to watch Hextall out there, wound so tight he self-destructed, putting his depleted team in a fatal 2-0 hole. The Flyers were done, less than 4-1/2 minutes into what should have been as winnable a game as they have left on their schedule. "He's a guy that works extremely hard. I never saw a goalie as hard-working as him. I've learned a lot from him," Mikael Renberg said after a scary 5-1 loss to the unimposing New York Rangers, Renberg explaining why teammates hate to see someone like Hextall embarrassed.
February 22, 1999 |
Subtle changes can produce big results. Take the Flyers' struggling power play, for example. Coach Roger Neilson moved Daymond Langkow to the first unit in place of Rod Brind'Amour last night, and he moved Eric Lindros from down low to the point to form an umbrella. Even though it didn't exactly rain goals, the tactic paid off: Langkow's power-play goal snapped an 0-for-24 power-play skid and helped break a two-game losing streak as the Flyers nipped the Pittsburgh Penguins, 2-1, at the First Union Center.
January 12, 1999 |
Jean-Marc Pelletier got a taste of the NHL last night, putting on a Flyers uniform for the first time and backing up John Vanbiesbrouck during an 8-0 shelling of the Nashville Predators. Vanbiebsrouck, 35, continued his recent run of steady, flawless play, the kind of goaltending designed to assure that a taste is all the Flyers' probable goalie of the future gets any time soon. "Jean-Marc's a good goalie. He'll have his time," Vanbiesbrouck said of Pelletier, after stopping all 24 Nashville shots, about half of them really nasty scoring chances.
December 11, 1998 |
No matter who the goalie is, if you can't cover anybody, you're going to lose. The Flyers proved that last night en route to blowing a three-goal lead into a 5-4 overtime loss. They made Ron Hextall look a lot like John Vanbiesbrouck had looked two nights earlier, in an equally scrambly 5-5 tie with the very same New Jersey Devils. "We need to help them a little bit," said the Flyers' best defenseman, Eric Desjardins, when asked about his team's goalies. Desjardins had an excellent view of Dave Andreychuk's game-winning goal - he was trying to shove Andreychuk away from the crease as the puck went into the net, a minute and 18 seconds into overtime.
December 7, 1998 |
Trying to stop the puck, Ron Hextall has put himself in some strange and precarious positions over the years. The one position he always has avoided, though, is putting himself ahead of the team. Some NHL goalies, if they found themselves in Hexy's skates today, you'd be getting nudges and winks, insinuations that maybe the team should take another look at its goaltending hierarchy. Not from Hexy. Four straight wins, in which he has allowed a total of five goals, and what he has to say is this: "I don't think I've earned anything.
November 21, 1998 |
Ron Hextall gloved the puck, started to move to drop it and clear it away, then looked at the clock. The final seconds were fleeing into the warm Carolina night, so Hextall held the puck in his glove and gripped it tightly as his teammates swarmed around him in congratulations. Later, in the locker room, he again downplayed the milestone, the Flyers' 3-1 victory over the feisty Carolina Hurricanes that gave Hextall his franchise-record 233rd victory as a Flyers goalie, one more win than Bernie Parent.
October 24, 1998 |
They are rarely at their lockers simultaneously. Yesterday, John Vanbiesbrouck was long into his dry-land training by the time Ron Hextall waddled off the ice and into the dressing room. Hextall sat at his locker as he had done countless times after practice in Voorhees. The only difference now is that instead of being the first goalie off the ice, Hextall is the last. For the first time in his 13 NHL seasons, the 34-year-old Hextall is a backup goalie, a role he agreed to so he could remain a Flyer when general manager Bob Clarke signed free agent Vanbiesbrouck to a two-year, $10.75 million contract.
September 29, 1998 |
After tonight's exhibition game against Washington, Neil Little will pack his equipment and head off for Grand Rapids, of the International League. Tomorrow, only two stalls will be occupied on goaltenders' row at the Flyers' practice facility - one for John Vanbiesbrouck, one for Ron Hextall. This is a new dynamic for the Flyers: two veteran goalies, no competition. The starting job belongs to Vanbiesbrouck, 35, by virtue of his three-year, $10.7 million free-agent contract.
September 26, 1998 |
An elderly gentleman struck up a conversation with a few Flyers in the lobby of their hotel last week in Peterborough, Ontario, as the players waited for a cab. Goaltender Neil Little walked in and sat down with his friends. "Are you one of the Flyers, too?" the man asked. "I play for the Phantoms," Little replied. "The what?" the man asked, puzzled. "The Phantoms," Little said again. The man still looked puzzled. "The minor league affiliate," Little finally explained.