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Bluelines: Thank You, Hockey News

After the New York Islanders named the UBS Arena Press Level after Stan Fischler, he thanks The Hockey News and many more.
Stan Fischler

Thank you, Hockey News!

And if you're wondering what that's all about – hold on for a second, and The Maven will explain.

On Wednesday night at UBS Arena in Elmont, Long Island, I had the hockey night of my young life of 90 years.

The New York Islanders did an out-of-this-world thing and honored me in a most unusual way.

These wonderful guys – and especially owners Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin – named the entire press area after little, old me. If you don't believe me – and sometimes I don't believe me – it says so now all over UBS Arena.

“Stan Fischler Press Area.” And, guess what? – as I write the words, I still can't believe it happened. How could I think it happened?

In 1939, at the age of seven, my beloved dad, Ben Fischler, took me to (old) Madison Square Garden to see a hockey game.

And I never stopped going. For my 10th birthday, March 31, 1942, Mom, Molly and Pop gave me a tiny Philco radio and a scrapbook.

Each would play an important part in my life.

With the Philco, I was able to pick up Foster Hewitt's broadcast of the Maple Leafs' never-before-done comeback win in the 1942 Stanley Cup final. Down 0-3 against the Detroit Red Wings, they won the next quartet and Stanley. (Same name as me.) And I became a Leafs fan for a decade until the time my idol, Bill ‘Snake Hips’ Barilko, disappeared during the summer of 1951.

Ah, the scrapbook. Week by week, month by month, I clipped hockey news from our local papers and – with trusty Duco – entered them into a fast-growing volume.

Stan Fischler's scrapbook

But two critical items were missing: 1. News about my Leafs from a Toronto paper, and 2. A weekly version of baseball's Sporting News; that is a weekly hockey paper.

Problem 1 was solved on Saturday afternoon in Times Square where I discovered the out-of-town newsstand.

There it was – sticking out in front of the Chicago Trip and the Seattle Times – The Globe And Mail of Toronto.

I couldn't believe it. For a mere quarter, I purchased the Globe, rushed to the sports pages and there they were, not one, not two, but three stories about my beloved Leafs. Including a column by Jim Coleman who instantly became my favorite writer of that era.

Within a day, I was subscribing to the Globe and, within three days, it was arriving in my mailbox at 582 Marcy Ave. in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn.

Getting the Globe meant starting a new scrapbook and another and another through the 1951-52 season. But the Globe was only half the target and then, it happened.

Ken McKenzie launched a new weekly – The Hockey News. I was a quick subscriber and THN became my ice bible and the inspiration to pursue a career as an NHL writer.

On a trip to Montreal – to see a Wings-Habs game – I visited McKenzie in his THN office on St. Catherine Street West and we became fast friends. A couple of years later Ken named me THN's beat writer for the Rangers.

Seeing my byline above a story about Danny Lewicki was one of the happiest moments in my life up until that time.

And being a beat writer for THN meant I got press credentials and, a year later, I was a full-time columnist for Hearst's New York afternoon daily, the Journal-American.

The J-A's sports editor Max Kase hired me specifically after reading what I'd written for Ken McKenzie. The Hockey News catapulted me into big-time journalism, and I've never stopped writing.

Meanwhile, a lot of key people were big-time helpers along the way. Rangers PR man – later with the J-A – Stan Saplin became my unofficial mentor. Herb Goren, who succeeded Stan with the Rangers, gave me my first paying gig and my career orbited from there.

Now, I fast forward decades. I began doing hockey TV with the WHA Hartford Whalers for two years (1973-75) until I got a call from NY legendary broadcaster Marty Glickman who uttered the magic words. "How'd you like to do Islanders TV?"

Or course, the answer was affirmative, and from March 1975 through my retirement with MSG Networks, five years ago, I was part of the Islanders television family.

But there was one thing that I still coveted, and that was hockey writing. Although I was approaching my 90th birthday – egad! what a cad!, the guy is "old" – my writing juices were flowing like a downward Niagara.

And then another “it happened”: Graeme Roustan hired me the way Ken McKenzie once did and I was back in the NHL saddle again, writing for "The Bible of Hockey."

Mind you, it's not as simple as just telling you. As I write this, I'm feeling the joy that knocking off another Archives, or Fischler Report or Bluelines for The Hockey News infuses in little, old me.

At age 90, I feel like a hockey lovin' 19-year-old of yesterday-century.

You, Graeme and your Hockey News have given me a new life.

And as I passed out the endless "thank you's" at UBS Arena on Wednesday night, I did a special low bow in the direction of THN's Toronto office and especially, "Stan," the owner and publisher for making me feel like a teenager again.

So, at the expense of doing what I usually avoid, I'll drift offside in redundant territory and say what must be said – and did – when they opened the Stan Fischler Press Floor at UBS Arena.

Stan Fischler Press Level

Thank you, Hockey News and the entire team that puts it all together: "You made me what I am today – once a hockey nut, always an ice cashew!”

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