Bryan Hextall, Jr. first put blades to ice, not on a frozen Manitoba pond, but on the surface of Madison Square Gardens in New York. His father, Bryan Hextall, Sr., was near the end of his glorious career with the Rangers. It was not until his father had retired and coached the St. Bonface Canadiens to a Memorial Cup victory that young Bryan realized the magnitude of his father's hockey talent. From then on, the second generation of Hextalls were mobilized and aimed at the NHL.
Hextall played his junior hockey for the Brandon Wheat Kings, where he developed a blend of toughness and scoring ability, not unlike that of his father's. A season with the Kitchener-Waterloo Beavers lead to a 21-game run with the New York Rangers in 1962. He found himself standing on the blueline, where his father had stood a generation before, looking across at Beliveau, Harvey, Plante and the Richards.
But Hextall was judged to be in over his head. So he was dispatched to the minors for a seven-year test to determine just how hungry he was to make it back to the NHL. Hextall had a big appetite.
In 1969, the Pittsburgh Penguins acquired Hextall and set him loose on the NHL for five seasons. He soon established himself as a fighter who could pot a respectable share of goals in between bouts.
In 1974, he was placed on waivers--a move that precipitated brief stints with Atlanta, Detroit and Minnesota before he retired from the NHL in 1976.
Hextall stayed on with the North Stars as a scout for one season before returning home to Manitoba.