R-E-S-P-E-C-T: The threads that connect Charles Barkley and Ron Hextall part 2


Following on from part one of this series yesterday, it’s time to throw it back to the a time where Philadelphia sports teams were at their pinnacle. The late 80’s to the early 90’s, an era which many people may consider as the mecca for all sports. This era produced many future Hall of Famers throughout the sports world. Two former greats in their respective sports both played in the City of Brotherly Love, and they both had similar styles in the way they played their sports. Charles Barkley and Ron Hextall revolutionized their respective sports, and they both still talk highly about one another today. This Part 2 series will focus on what made Hextall so great, to be so well liked by no other than “Sir Charles,” Barkley himself.


Charles Barkley- Brief Overview

Barkley established himself as one of NBA’s most dominating forwards to ever play the game of basketball. The Philadelphia 76ers  drafted Barkley with the 5th pick in the 1984 NBA Draft. He instantly became a popular figure in Philadelphia not only with the fans, but the media as well.

The former Auburn product, Barkley instantly became a force to be reckoned with in just his first season in the NBA. For his rookie season he averaged 14.0 points per game, and 8.6 rebounds per game. His accomplishments for his rookie season earned him a berth on the All-Rookie Team.

Barkley had a great NBA career, and one that has led him to the broadcast booth for TNT. He was an 11 time All-Star, League’s MVP  in 1993, an NBA All-Star Game MVP in 1991, and was voted by ESPN as the 4th best power forward of all time in 2016. In addition, Barkley’s number (34) is retired by the 76ers, the Phoenix Suns, and Auburn University.

“Sir Charles,” was frequently involved in on-and-off court fights, and some of them turned into national controversies. For instance, in March of 1991, Barkley accidentally spit on a young girl. His original intention was to spit at a heckling fan. Moreover, he also made headlines in 1993, when he stated that sports figures should not be considered role models. It has become widely known that when Barkley talks people tend to listen.

Charles Barkley stated, Stanley Cup playoff hockey is the best thing going, and not just now. I think overtime hockey is the most nerve-wracking thing in the world. There’s nothing to compare it to. Let me explain it like this. Every broadcaster and sportscaster in the world knew seven months ago that the Cavs and Warriors were to going to play for the championship. There’s not a single person who had the Nashville Predators playing for the Stanley Cup championship.”

Barkley continued, “I started following hockey in ‘84…Ron Hextall’s my favorite hockey player, so I’ve been a hockey fan since 1984 or ‘85 when I got to Philadelphia. And I’m not just saying this because I’m on the show, but the Stanley Cup Playoffs, they are the best thing in sports.”

The once dominant power forward, Barkley was born in Leeds, Alabama. This great iconic figure has always liked the sport of hockey, and of course Hextall. Now let’s focus on Hextall as a player to see why “Sir Charles,” thinks so highly of Hextall.


Ron Hextall:

Ron Hextall was born on May 3, 1964 in Manitoba, CAN. He began playing hockey at a young age, to which his love for the sport led him to be drafted by the Flyers in the 1982 NHL Draft.

After his dominating performances in the AHL, Hextall made his NHL Debut against the Edmonton Oilers. Ironically enough it was the opening night of the hockey season in 1982. The Oilers wasted no time in testing Hextall as they scored on the very first shot to open an early 1-0 lead. However, that was all the Oilers could muster as the Flyers won the game 2-1.

Throughout the course of his first NHL season, Hextall displayed his aggressive nature. Just one month after doning a Flyers sweater, he swung his stick at Brad Smith of the Toronto Maple Leafs after a scrum.  Hextall did the same thing again one game later at Troy Murray of the Chicago Blackhawks after a scrum. For his efforts, Hextall instantly became a fan favorite for his style of play.

Two months later Hextall was involved in a fight against opposing goaltender Alain Chevrier of the New Jersey Devils. Flyers defenseman Kjell Samuelsson was punched in the head by Steve Richmond after the game was over. Hextall skated after Chevrier, and he began pummeling him. Hextall was then fined $300 for this brawl.

Even with his rough stuff much like Charles Barkley, Hextall was very talented between the pipes for the Flyers. In just his first season, he led the Flyers to the top of their conference by winning the Prince of Wales Trophy. They also advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals, where the Flyers eventually lost to the Edmonton Oilers in 7 games. Hextall did receive an 8 game suspension at the conclusion of the finals for a slash to the knees of Oilers player Kent Nilsson in game 7. However, Hextall was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy for the most valuable player in the playoffs, as he posted a 15-11 record with a 2.77 GAA, and a .908 save percentage.

Hextall’s first season in the NHL showed the Flyers they had a star between the pipes. In 66 regular season games during his rookie campaign, Hextall posted a 3.00 GAA, and recorded 37 wins. For his efforts, he was awarded the Vezina Trophy as the Most Outstanding Goaltender.

The Flyers had a difficult start to the 1987-88 season, mainly in part to an 8 game suspension that Hextall had to serve from the playoffs the year prior. In Hextall’s first game back from suspension, he turned in a marvelous performance. He backstopped 40 saves against the New York Rangers, which enabled the Flyers to settle for a 2-2 tie.

Just one month later, Hextall became the first goaltender in NHL history to shoot and score a goal. He fired a shot on an empty Boston Bruins net, and it just so happened to go in. The Fans got a kick out of this and started going wild. Hextall put forth a decent second season amassing 30 wins with a 3.50 GAA. However, Hextall struggled mightily in the playoffs as the Flyers were bounced by the Washington Capitals. He was replaced in successive games, and Hextall surrendered a bad 4.75 GAA for the playoffs.

As the season’s wore on so did Hextall’s body. Injuries in the middle of his career started to pile up on this rockstar goaltender. He was eventually traded on three occasions in the off-seasons between 1992 and 1994 to the New York Islanders, Quebec Nordiques, and back to the Flyers.

Upon his return to the Flyers, Hextall regained his confidence and his swagger. His GAA was below 3.00 in each of his last 5 seasons of play, which happened to be the lowest of his career. Hextall eventually announced his retirement from the NHL at the end of 1998-99.

The great Hextall finished his career with 296 (wins), 214 (losses), and 69 (ties). Moreover, he won the Vezina Trophy in 1987, the Conn Smythe Trophy in 1987, was a one time All-Star in 1988, and was inducted into the Flyers Hall of Fame in 2008.

Hextall’s post career led him to become an Assistant General Manager for the Los Angeles Kings. In 2012 led by Hextall, the Kings won the Stanley Cup. Of course many know that he eventually became the General Manager of the Flyers in May of 2014. He has since turned the Flyers organization into a team being built to contend for many years in the future.

With all of Hextall’s accolades and accomplishments, one cannot forget his no non-sense attitude that made players fear to play against him. Barkley is a huge fan of Hextall, as he stated that was his favorite player. This comes as no shock to many people, as both players made their opponents fear them.

Both Hextall and Barkley had similar playing styles. They were very gritty, and played the game with heart. Hextall is a huge fan of Barkley, and he has nothing but respect for this great icon. With that in mind, we will leave you with this from Hextall.

We had a bit of a relationship back in the day (Referring to Barkley). He was at a lot of our games obviously. And there’s a mutual respect there. I certainly liked the way Charles played. Hard game, very emotional game, gave everything he had on the court.

Hextall continued,I’m honored to be talked about by Charles for sure. I do remember Charles playing, and I thought to myself I’m not going to be the worse out here today (Laughing).”

Follow me on Twitter @JameyBaskow for all Flyers updates.


Mandatory Credit: Lou Capozzola-USA TODAY NETWORK