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Bluelines: The Tampa Bay Lightning's Status as a Hockey Dynasty

Stan Fischler shares some thoughts on the upcoming NHL draft, what Tampa Bay's legacy will be, the Hockey Time Machine, John Tortorella, the Maccabiah Games, Jim Pappin and so much more.
Steven Stamkos


1. Shane Wright or Juraj Slafkovsky to habs? I say Wright is right.

2. What do the Devils do with the second pick? I say they go for Slafkovsky

3. Malkin, Letang, who stays in Pitt? I say Letang. they've had enough of Gino.

5. Carey Price -- will he return next season? I say he'll try.

6. Chara, Thornton: who retires? I say Zdeno.

7. Derek Lalonde, good, or bad? Good. He's smart, and funny.



Have we just viewed a hockey dynasty in Tampa Bay?


By the Original Six standard, to earn the "Dynasty" label a team had to win three straight Stanley Cups. Period! This was no small feat since it took 32 years of the NHL's life before the Toronto Maple Leafs pulled off the feat in 1946-47, 47-48 and 48-49. That meant that Conn Smythe's team was unique, winning six consecutive playoff series to reach the peak.

Next up, in the late 1950s, Maurice (The Rocket) Richard's Montreal Canadiens topped Toronto by winning five consecutive Cups; the equivalent of ten series triumphs in a row.

Finally, the last Original Six dynasty belonged to Toronto again as Punch Imlach whipped -- well, almost -- his Leafs to Cup wins in 1962, 1963 and 1964.

Once expansion arrived in 1967, the definition of dynasty had to change. The more teams that were added to the fraternity, the longer the playoffs.

Beginning in the 1975-76 season, and ending in 1979, Scotty Bowman's Habs won successive Cups, which was well and good. Then, the Islanders came along not only capturing four titles in a row but three more series in 1984 before Wayne Gretzky and the Oilers virtually annexed the NHL.

But the irony of all ironies is that Gretz-Mess and Company never could put three Cups back to back.

This brings us to the Bolts. Before being finally stymied last Sunday, they had put together eleven straight series victories.

Think about it; that's one more than The Rocket's ten in a row and in a much more intense pressure-cooker atmosphere.

All of which tells me that the Lightning have every right to claim dynasty status along with the other estimable teams.

One more thing, until any team comes up with nineteen playoff series wins in a row, Al Arbour's Islanders must go down as the greatest team of all-time.



Paul Patskou's Toronto-based "Hockey Time Machine" was another winner last night. The show featured Hall of Famer and Canadiens icon Yvan (The Roadrunner) Cournoyer who played his entire career with the Habs.

A raconteur without peer, Yvan was asked why he has two sore shoulders. His retort courteous was to the point: "I had to lift the Stanley Cup ten times!"

To this day, only one other Canadien topped that mark -- Henri (Pocket Rocket) Richard with eleven Stanley Cup rings to his credit.



* Theoretically, The Flower could be a starter or backup for Mackenzie Blackwood, assuming the latter is healthy enough to return.

* Should we believe ex-Red Wing Darren McCarty who claims that Jeff Halpern will be Detroit's next coach? If so, that would be a huge upset.

* Wayne Gretzky looks so neat and trim, you get the impression that he could put on the blades and still be a good second-line center.

* Sportsnet's Rory Boylen mentions Chicago's Alex DeBrincat, Vancouver's J.T. Miller and Jakob Chychrun of Arizona among the tradeables.

* Miller is my choice as most likely of the trio. DeBrincat and Chychrun are too valuable for the respective clubs to unload.

* Good job, Sabres, re-signing goalie Craig Anderson. He's the pro's pro.



Here's a hot one. John (I Love Coaching More Than TV) Tortorella arrived in The City of Brotherly Love and declared "I'm gonna change the culture of the Flyers."

Copycat Luke Richardson arrived in The Windy City and declared "There's gonna be a new culture here in Chicago."

Hey, we could make a movie out of this, "When NHL Cultures Clash."

Okay, kidding aside -- or maybe not -- I'm going to find my trusty "Culture Meter" and have it tell me all about the new "culture" changes on Broad Street and West Madison, respectively.

My guess is that Torts will demand that his Flyers try harder than they did under Mike Yeo and that Luke's Blackhawks at least get into the playoffs.



When the Jewish Olympics -- alias The Maccabi Games -- open in Jerusalem on July 13th, hockey will be at the forefront for several reasons. For one reason, past games have been as intense as a Stanley Cup Final.

Edmonton's Zach Hyman and the Rangers' Adam Fox can attest to that. Each is an alumnus of past Maccabi ice tilts.

What's more, the upcoming games will feature a historic breakthrough. For the first time the organizers have added a women's hockey tourney to its agenda. My granddaughter, Odel, 17, will be playing defense for Israel against Canada and U.S. teams.

"This is a major advance," says Mitch Miller of Ottawa, manager of Canada's men's hockey entry. "Our gals will be practicing hard for this event."

Behind the Maccabi hockey scene will be Joe Cohen, who, for years, has been one of the most important and influential hockey figures. Cohen's hockey involvement runs deeply in the sport although this enormously popular guy operates unobtrusively and without any fuss or fanfare.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman calls Joe, "A great man!"

Former owner of the Los Angeles Kings, dapper Joe was a confidant of NHL leaders such as Rangers president Bill Jennings, as well as Flyers owner Ed Snider and the league's one-time chairman of the board Bill Wirtz.

Joe is so revered that none other than iconic Wayne Gretzky once said, "If there's one person in the world who doesn't have an enemy it's Joe."

"The Maccabi Games are special to me," says Cohen, "because they allow me to combine two of my passions, hockey and the State of Israel."

Currently a member of the Maccabi World Union's board of directors and board treasurer, Joe will be accompanied by his wife, Rita, daughter, Mary, and Judy Gilbert, wife of the late Hockey Hall of Famer Rod Gilbert.

"I got involved with the hockey part of Maccabi in 2010," Joe recalls,

"and in 2014, the NHL helped out when club owners invested in improving the Olympic-sized rink in Metula on the Lebanese border.

"And with (NHL Commissioner) Gary Bettman's help, in 2018, the league arranged for its portable rink to be installed in a Jerusalem basketball arena so that many more people could attend the games."

"For me, it's amazing to see hockey moved from a rink on the outpost on the Northern Israeli border to a major Jerusalem arena and have the games on live Israeli tv."

Cohen, 75, singled out Maple Leafs owner Larry Tanenbaum among many current NHL leaders whose contributions have made the Israeli hockey games possible.

"I'd like to thank Maccabi CEO Eyal Tiberger for his support," adds Cohen.

If current plans jell, President Joe Biden will drop the ceremonial opening game puck as part of his Middle East tour.

Cohen: "The president's attendance at the opening ceremony is another major step in the growth of the Maccabi Games."

Joe knows a ton about arenas. During his stewardship as head of MSG Networks, he masterminded the creation of the Rangers' and Knicks' fabulous training facility in Greenburgh, N.Y. Needless to say he's a passionate Rangers fan and is as proud of the team's accomplishments this season as any rabid fan.

"The Rangers long playoff run exceeded all expectations," Joe says, "and was a highlight of my spring. For both the Blueshirts and the Maccabi Games, the future ahead of us is very bright!"


WHO SAID IT? "Sometimes he looks like he's playing against 50 octopuses." (ANSWER BELOW.)



Jim Pappin, who just passed away, was "The Hockey Player's Hockey Player." He was a forward -- with Toronto, Chicago, California Golden Seals and Cleveland Baron -- who accomplished fabulous feats with less attention than he deserved.

He survived Punch Imlach's harsh coaching and wound up on four Cup winners. Always, Jim was overshadowed by Frank (Big M) Mahovlich, Dave Keon and Red Kelly, to name a few stars. Didn't matter that he scored the Leafs' last Cup-winning goal in 1967. It was the same story in Chicago where Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita dominated the limelight.

But, again, Pappin did his thing and did it well.

Another good man is gone. R.I.P. Jim.



In a compelling set of interviews for The New York Extra, author-sportswriter Matthew Blittner took "A Deep Dive Into The Jobs Of NHL GMs." Here are some Scotty Bowman tidbits:

Having Helpers: "I got some people to be assistants for me because I was doing two jobs; both coaching and managing. And each one was time-consuming. I mean, there's just so much time during the day. But I gravitated more to coaching and gave my assistant more responsibilities. I did the trades and the negotiations. Frankly, I didn't like the managing part as much as coaching."

Scouting: "When you're the general manager all the scouting staffs -- amateur and pro -- are in constant communication with you. Which is why a lot of teams now have an assistant general manager. He looks after the scouting people, and usually runs the AHL team, the most important farm club."

Trust: "Since I couldn't be everywhere, I counted on the people I had working for me. The staff was important and I relied on each one for their judgment. Basically, it's a team game. When I was a general manager I had to build a team off the ice just as I did on the ice." (NEXT ISSUE: RAY SHERO.)


ANSWER TO WHO SAID IT? Defenseman Gary Nylund on how the opposition tried to contain Pat LaFontaine.



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