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Fischler Report: Early Summer Musings

Stan Fischler discusses the Calgary Flames, Toronto's goaltending duo, Ondrej Palat, Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers, New York Rangers and so much more.
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A HARSH LESSON FOR EDMONTON

Let this be a lesson for Edmonton.

"What?" you say. "Who?"

Johnny Gaudreau, that's what. That's who.

If Johnny Hockey can leave the sweet city of Calgary and scorn Fort Knox kind of Flames riches, what does that tell you?

It tells you that sooner or later Connor McDavid is going to do a sayonara to the Oilers. Something like "Goom-bye, please!"

And if you don't believe me, just check the goody Goudreau game plan; or his song: "I Told You I Love You, Calgary, Now I'm Out!"

Do you think that King Connor is going to want to forever drop anchor in excruciating cold Edmonton?

Wayne Gretzky stopped California dreaming and beat it to L.A. then to St.Lou. And, finally allowed, "I always wanted to play in New York."

And so he did.

And so will Connor McDavid.

And just as it was with Johnny Hockey, it'll take a bit of time but, guaranteed, it'll happen.

Except, it won't be Ohio 'cause Columbus doesn't have what Gretzky and Messier wanted, and got -- Broadway!

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THE TORONTO CREASE -- EITHER A SITCOM OR BURLESQUE

An objective hockey observer studying GM Kyle Dubas' goaltending roster would have to utter just five little words:

He's got to be kidding!

The trouble for Leafs Nation is that this joke of a Matt Murray-Ilya Samsonov is no joke. It's gonna be a real, live Scotiabank Arena sitcom.

If there's a higher-risk goalie than Matt Murray then it would have to be Tubby McAuley but he's not around anymore. As for Samsonov, suffice to say that the Capitals broke all speed records delivering him to the Used Goalie Lot.

With a pair of crease-watchmen like that, Dubas figures to be Done-bas by Apple Blossom Time in Toronto.

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P.S. ON PALAT

It won't win the "Best In Free Agent Get" award but the Devils signing of Ondrej (Don't Call Me Peanut) Palat looks neat following the Gaudreau Circus that never made it to the Garden State.

My doughty Devils Tracer, George Falkowski sums up the view from Newark:

"Palat is exactly the kind of player the Devils needed. He's a vet who can score off the wing and, most importantly, knows what it takes to win. The young pups in the dressing room had better start paying attention. I call Palat an ultra-valuable pickup who should pay dividends in the next few years."

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CHRIS DRURY STARTS A SMART NEW TREND

It's now obvious that in today's high-speed-who-cares-about-the-crease game, goalies are going down faster than a four-flatted Fiat.

Ergo: just having two goalies ready for NHL play is not enough; you need a third, Rangers GM Chris Drury got that message.

In addition to Vezina-winner Igor Shesterkin, he added Jaroslav Halak. Pursuing the Third Man Theme, Drury piled on with the NHL's answer to National Geographic, Louis Domingue. (Personally, I'd prefer Al (Mambo King) Montoya.

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SOMETHING FOR THE PANTHERS TO CHEW ON

With the Claude Giroux-Ben Chiarot Era over before it really got underway; and the President's Trophy a misty memory, Our Sultan of Sunrise, Al Greenberg, can't resist a look backward:

"The hurt," says Big Al, "is losing the depth and versatility of Mason Marchment, Noel Acciari and trade deadline loss Frank (I Once Was A Ranger) Vatrano.

"Free agent signings Nick Cousins, Colin White, Nick Bitetto and the Staal Brothers (Marc and Eric) are largely reclamation projects that g.m. Bill Zito hopes will be as successful as Anthony Duclair or Sam Bennett. Meanwhile, the Sergei Bobrovsky contract and the Keith Yandle buyout continue to hurt."

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WHO SAID IT? "Me on instant replay." (ANSWER BELOW.)

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I'M JUST SAYIN'

* My foolish heart tells me that it was Sidney Crosby who told Gino Malkin to wise-up and sign-on-the-dotted line.

* Management and some media may not adore Woolly Mammoth Malkin but if The Captain does, he can veto the high command.

* Department of So-Nice: Jeff Blashill winding up on his feet behind the Bolts bench as Jon Cooper's aide is a case of justice triumphs.

* Justice failed when Andy Brunette got booted by the Panthers. That was an egregious hockey sin.

* The good news is that Good Man Andy got hired in a hurry by the Devils and will help Lindy Ruff get 'em into the playoffs next spring.

* Coincidence or not? When Bruce Cassidy coached the Bruins, Jake DeBrusk's hobby was campaigning for a trade. Cousin Brucie is gone and so is Jake's trade demand.

* During the Rangers run to the third round ESPN's Mark Messier opined that trade deadline acquisitions Motte, Copp and Vatrano eased pressure on the club's Kid Line.

* The Kid Line of Lafreniere- Kakko-Chytil is still intact, but Motte, Copp and Vatrano are not. Betcha the Kids will miss them.

* One reason why there's NHL-NHLPA labor peace: Ottawa's Josh Norris signed an eight-year deal for $63.6M.

* If the Red Wings make the playoffs for a change it'll be because of the goaltending; specifically Ville Husso; no more, no less.

* You wanna know how strange this summer is so far? Not a word -- thankfully -- about Jack (Where Do I Go Next?) Eichel.

* My old buddy Don Waddell continues to do a bang-up job in Raleigh. He loses Tony DeAngelo and gets Brent Burns. Nice going!

* Another reason to just love Red Wings rookie coach Derek Lalonde. He comes from Brasher Falls, N.Y.

* Brasher Falls -- as far north as you can get in New York State -- is so small that at the last census, its population soared to 669!

* Joke Of The Month: Cam Talbot: "No hard feelings for the Wild."

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A THOUGHT AND A SONG FOR SAD CALGARIANS

Think about it, Flames fans. Johnny Hockey is like a date who stood you up. Who needs him? And, guess what? He could bomb in Columbus. And if he does, here's the tune for that occasion:

"Oh! How I Laugh When I Think How I Cried About You!"

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ARE YOU KIDDING ME CONTRACTS

1. ROBERT THOMAS, ST. LOUIS: Eight years at $8.125 AAV.

2. VINCENT TROCHECK, RANGERS: Seven years at $5.625 AAV.

(Maybe my Dad had it wrong. Money does grow on trees. That is, the NHL vine.)

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STICKING UP FOR TALBOT

I say -- and said -- Cam Talbot's sulking exit from Minnesota was wrong; that he should have worked with Marc-Andre Fleury in a neat goaltending double-dip.

Author Sean Mccaffrey disagrees: "Talbot was in the last year of his deal and wants one more big-time payday," says Sean. "His chances are better as a starter than to be a back-up to Fleury."

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TORTS WANTED PHILLY CHEESESTEAK HOCKEY

The ESPN hockey fraternity was collectively happy that John Tortorella, their candid hockey analyst, got a much-desired Flyers hockey gig. But the gang in Bristol, Connecticut is genuinely sorry that he had to leave.

If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times; the off-camera, off-the-bench John Tortorella actually is a gracious guy with a ton of friends.

His ESPN associates loved working with him because he cared about his colleagues. More importantly to the network, he did his job well -- opinionated, edgy and emotional.

One Torts pal reports that he wanted the Philly job "more than any other out there" because he likes the fit of Philly and, besides, it keeps him in the Northeast and close to home.

When a fellow worker wondered why he'd sign on with a bottom feeder, he explained that the Flyers are a team "he could sink his teeth into, " which means the long-needed culture change on Broad Street.

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ODEL ON ICE -- A GRAND-DAUGHTER SKATES ON A WORLD STAGE

It's easy being a grandpa -- except when your 18-year-old granddaughter is playing in a world hockey tourney.

That's what's happening to me now while I'm in Jerusalem during the Jewish Olympics; alias the Maccabi Games.

Odel Fischler is skating on left wing for Team Israel in the first-ever Maccabi women's hockey event. She's just loving it -- well -- sort of because while she loves hockey, she hates losing and Team Israel is the underdog against both the American and Canadian teams.

In the tourney opener, Uncle Sam's gals beat Odel's team, 10-0 but she finished with a smile on her face and an embrace with Team USA's captain Chelsey Golldberg.

"If my kid sister, Avigail, was in our lineup," said Odel, " we'd have done a lot better."

Bred on hockey in Israel -- along with her 15-year-old brother, Ariel --

Avigial, 13, spent last season playing in Switzerland where she was MVP on a mostly boys team. She would have been a natural fit alongside her sister.

Unlike other Israeli sports, hockey is run by a small group that somehow refused to grant Avigail "special status" for reasons only a politician would know.

Ditto for Ariel.

That said, for me, the kick is just watching Odel do her best against a stronger foe and loving it just the same. Doesn't matter if it's at Scotiabank Arena or this rare rink in Jerusalem.

It's hockey; it's fun and, when it comes to my grandchildren, it's something I never figured to see in my more than a half-century covering the ice sport. That is, grand-daughter Odel, breaking up a play at the blue line and skimming a pass to a playmate!

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YAYS AND BOOS:

YAY TO DON WADDELL: The Canes GM keeps making a good case for his savvy. His latest low-key-but-very-solid acquisition is Ondrej Kase. This is a solid depth guy who can score and has the same last name as my first sports editor Max Kase.

BOO TO THE LEAFS PROPAGANDA MACHINE: Really; did they have to trot out John (No Cups) Tavares and Mark (No Cups) Giordano to tell us how "excited" they are over Toronto getting Swiss Cheese goalie Matt Murray. I got news for them: Ottawa is even more "excited" that Murray's gone!

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ANSWER TO WHO SAID IT? Derek Sanderson, asked to name the greatest player he ever saw

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