Dennis Hextall, son of Rangers' great Bryan Hextall, Sr., had a steadfast dedication to hockey from the moment he saw ice and strapped on the blades. By age 16, he'd drive all the way to Portage La Prairie just to get enough kids together for a game.
But being small, Hextall held no hopes of making it to the NHL. He played his junior hockey with the Brandon Wheat Kings until he jumped at an offer to attend the University of North Dakota. There he played hockey and studied pre-dentistry -- an ironic choice for a fighting man!
As Hextall skated through the Dakotas, though, his game kept improving while so many other players leveled off in their progress. He completed his degree, declined an scholarship for a Master degree and jumped for the pro ranks with Knoxville, Omaha and Buffalo.
In 1968, Hextall caught a brief stint with the New York Rangers before being sent to the Buffalo Bisons of the AHL. From there he embarked on a familiar pattern of being traded to the NHL's cellar dwellers. First it was off to the Los Angeles Kings. Then, he joined the California Seals where his trademark balance between scoring and abrasive play emerged.
In 1972, Hextall was traded to the Minnesota North Stars where he reached the peak of his productivity, scoring 284 points in 295 games. But just as the North Stars were approaching respectability, he was again traded to the struggling Red Wings and then on to the hapless Washington Capitals to round out his career in 1979.
Courtesy of the Hockey Hall of Fame