Bryan Hextall

Bryan Hextall was one of the highest skilled and most respected players ever to grace a sheet of NHL ice. Hall of Famer James Dunn was once quoted saying "He is a very clean-living individual and an excellent ambassador for professional hockey."

He was also one of hockey's hardest hitters. Herb Goren, a long time reporter for the New York Sun once said "He was the hardest bodychecking forward I had seen in more than forty years of watching hockey."

Hextall starred for years as an juvenile and amateur on Canada's prairies before turning pro with the Vancouver Lions of the Western Hockey League in 1934. After leading the Lions won the WHL championship in 1935-36, Hextall jumped to the NHL's New York Rangers.

Often playing on a line with Phil Watson and Lynn Patrick, Hextall played with the Rangers from 1936 through 1948. During that span he skated in 449 league games, scoring 187 goals and earning 175 assists. He scored 20 goals in 7 consecutive seasons back in the days when 20 goals was a benchmark of a very good player.

The most famous goal Bryan scored immortalized him New York sporting history forever, although he didn't know that at the time. Bryan scored the overtime winning goal of game six of the 1940 Stanley Cup game against Toronto. That would be the last Stanley Cup the Rangers would win for 54 years!. Needless to say Hextall's heroics became legendary over the years as it provided solace for long suffering Ranger fans.

"I took a pass from Dutch Hiller and Phil Watson," Hextall fondly remembered years later. "The puck came out from behind the net and I took a backhand shot to put it past (Turk) Broda."

In 1939-40 and 1940-41 Hextall led all NHL snipers in goals scored. In 1941-42 he captured the Art Ross trophy as the league's leading point scorer. On four other occasions he was in the top ten of scoring. With three selections to the First All-Star team and another to the second All-Star team, it is obvious that Bryan Hextall was the dominant right winger of the era directly before the arrival of Rocket Richard and Gordie Howe.

Hex may have continued on as the best right winger in hockey had his career not been interrupted by World War II. Hextall served in the Canadian military during the 1944-45 season. He would miss most of the 1945-46 season as well due to a serious stomach and liver disorder.

Once his NHL career was over Bryan started a lumberyard and hardware business before opening a commercial shooting lodge in Poplar Point, Manitoba. Poor circulation in his legs forced doctors to amputate both legs below the knees in 1978. Bryan Hextall died in 1984.

Bryan Hextall was the first of three generations of Hextalls to play in the NHL. Sons Bryan Jr. and Dennis and grandson Ron enjoyed lengthy NHL careers.


  © Blogger templates Newspaper III by 2008

Back to TOP