The true reason behind Ron Hextall’s attack on Chelios and why Chelios actually thinks he did the right thing
It’s one of the most unforgettable moments in NHL history. It was on May 11, 1989, that all hell broke loose. The Philadelphia Flyers’ season was coming to an end, and that’s when legendary goalie Ron Hextall saw his shot at getting revenge on Chris Chelios.
Shortly after a whistle, Hextall left his goal and had only one person in his sight. Hextall is the goalie in NHL history with the most penalty minutes, and he wasn’t scared as he approached Chris Chelios. Hextall went utterly berserk and just didn’t stop punching.
The attack from Hextall earned him a 12-game suspension, but he didn’t seem to regret it. After all, he believed that Chelios deserved what came his way.
Earlier that series, Chelios was in a controversial incident with another Flyers player, Brian Propp. Chelios elbowed Propp into the board, and it left him unconscious.
No penalty was assessed on the play, and NHL didn’t warrant any suspension. But the Flyers didn’t forget. And Propp’s teammate certainly didn’t.
Chelios was a guy that believed in right or wrong, and in his autobiography, he writes that he felt that Ron Hextall got punished too hard.
”That seemed like a lot of games to me, given that he didn’t inflict any real damage,” he wrote.
”I saw him coming, and the only reason I couldn’t fullt protect myself was because Philadelphia defenseman Kjell Samuelsson had kicked my skates out from under me just before Hextall arrived. As soon as Hextall swung at me, I grabbed him and put him into a deadlock.”
Chelios claims that the NHL wanted to make a statement that goalies shouldn’t go after opponents. Chelios also said that he respected Hextall for what he did.
”I admired Hextall for standing up for Propp. If I had been a goalie and something like that had happened to one of my teammates, I probably would have done exactly what Hextall did.
”Over the years, I’ve run into Hextall and he has always been courteous toward me about the situation. He told me once he appreciated that I never made a big deal about it.”