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Fischler Report: Itchy Issues to Think About Before NHL Free Agency

Stan Fischler shares some thoughts on the NHL draft and the start of free agency, the New Jersey Devils, Minnesota Wild, Shane Wright, some big moves in women's hockey and so much more.
Jack Campbell

ITCHY ISSUES TO THINK ABOUT BEFORE FREE AGENT FRENZY:

1. Cam Talbot's agent is angering Bill Guerin. ERROR, my rep friend. Well-paid Cam is under contract and better get used to alternating in goal with Marc-Andre Fleury. All Guerin wants to do is win.

2. Assuming that I read it right, John Gibson's rep says that the very excellent goalie is committed to the Ducks and wants no part of Toronto. I commend Johnny for that.

3. The Sabres supposedly are checking out Darcy Kuemper and Jack Campbell. If either goes to Buffalo -- I hope it's Happy Jack -- we'll find out how really good either of them is; and fast.

4. Guessing where Claude Giroux, Nazem Kadri and Evander Kane eventually will wind up is roughly equivalent to playing roulette for the first time.

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POST-DRAFT YAYS AND BOOS:

YAY TO BILL GUERIN -- His Wildness secured Marc-Andre Fleury for two more years and that should secure two playoff berths.

BOO TO MATT MURRAY: This failing goaltender just doesn't get it. Buffalo offered him a neat comeback deal but he refused -- didn't want to play for the Sabres.

YAY TO KEVYN ADAMS: Buffalo's boss told Murray what he can do with his refusal and besides: "We want players who want to be here!" (From the song, "I Told You I Don't Love You Now Get Out.")

BOO TO GENO MALKIN: Sign already; for Sidney's sake. What's the matter; four years isn't good enough for you. The guy's redefining ingrate!

YAY TO DAVID POILE: The NHL's longest-running GM showed his savvy by working out a deal with Filip Forsberg, guaranteeing another playoff berth for the Preds.

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FROM SHOCK AND AWE TO AWE AND SHOCK

I was shocked when the Rangers summarily told Tony DeAngelo to "forget about it" and awed when he went to Raleigh and became the Canes' best D man.

Now, I'm in shock that Carolina has dealt him to John Tortorella's bide-away-home on Broad Street. Torts will be good for Tony and, I'll bet that D'Angelo will be the Flyers best D-man.

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IF THE SKATE ...FITZ!

Wish I had thought of that headline but New Jersey's answer to sheer genius, George Falkowski, did. The "Fitz," of course belongs to Devils bossman, Tom Fitzgerald who's trying to fit all his Newark playoff pieces together.

"The Devils have terrific young forwards but still need size and scoring on the wing and the defense has not defended well,' says Falkowski.

"Goaltending has been valiant if ineffective.

"At the Draft, Fitz took these issues to heart. He took top-ranked defensive prospect Simon Nemec at number two overall and added four more defensemen. while swinging a deal for goalie Vitek Vanecek."

Next up for Fitz will be the opening of free agency on Wednesday. Don't be surprised if he makes still more moves.

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POST-DRAFT INSIGHTS

Mining through nuggets of gold in the lower rounds, our roving savant, Al Greenberg, points out that today's "Unknowns" are next year's aces. "The trick," says Greenberg, "is to find them. Just check out who both the Bolts and Cats found.

"For the Panthers, both MacKenzie Weegar and Patric Hornqvist were last-round picks. Hornqvist was the final pick of the 2005 Draft.

Tampa made Brayden Point and Anthony Cirelli third-round picks. Pat Maroon was a sixth-rounder and Ondrej Palat was in the seventh round in 2011.

"Look around the league. Joe Pavelski was a seventh-round selection; Pekka Rinne was in the eighth round in 2004 and Henrik Lundqvist was the 205th pick in the 2000 Draft!"

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NOTHIN' WRONG WITH BEING 4TH UNLESS YOU'RE WRIGHT

The fallout over the fuss about Shane Wright being picked fourth last Thursday must convulse his new boss with laughter.

Yesiree, Bob, none other than Kraken GM Ron Francis was placed fourth overall by the Hartford Whalers in 1981.

My Seattle kingpin, Glenn Dreyfuss, asked Francis about the advice he got before the '81 Draft. Francis' older cousin -- NHL goalie -- Mike Liut was the advice-giver.

"Mike told me, 'As a kid, you want to play in the NHL and hear your name called. Mike's advice was, 'Be yourself -- continue to listen and work hard, and things will work out.' It was great that we got to play together years later in Hartford."

Francis added, that Liut's "solid advice' also applies today. The players who got here (in the recent Draft) have done so because of who they are. They should continue to be that person going forward."

And just for the record, the very savvy ESPN writer Kristen Shilton believes that the Kraken can mold Wright into a "franchise masterpiece."

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WHO SAID IT? "It's like divorcing yourself from 20 wives!"

(ANSWER BELOW)

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I'M JUST SAYIN'

* Times change. Top Draft pick, Juraj Slafkovsky is from Kosice, Slovakia. When I was there in 1961, nobody had even heard of the NHL.

* I'll be very upset if Chicago unloads Patrick Kane. Somebody told me that he should "go out a winner." Nix; he won three Cups. Enough!

* The Swiss Pro League is overshadowing the KHL. That's why Mikko Koskinen signed with Lugano rather than take his chances in Comrade-land.

* Mark my words, Lou Lamoriello's acquisition of Alex Romanov will turn out to be a lot better than many can imagine.

* Duncan Keith was the kind of indomitable player you figured would go on forever; a la Jaromir Jagr. But the reputable D-man has called it a career with a Hall of Fame call looming down the pike a bit.

* Like Toronto and Edmonton, New Jersey has been bedeviled with goalie issues. The difference is that Tom Fitzgerald solved his by nabbing Vitek Vanecek. The other two --Eh!

* Pierre McGuire is back on camera; this time with SportsNet He worked the Draft and will be back Wednesday for Free Agency.

* Annoying to some -- who isn't? -- Lucky Pierre is an old pal who knows his pucks and I'm glad Sportsnet recognizes his talent.

* Sure to be signed -- if the Rangers don't -- are UFA's Andrew Copp and Frank Vatrano; Chris Drury's reputable rentals.

* Speaking of Drury, he's got to find someone to back up his Rangers MVP goalie Igor Shesterkin.

* Calgary's GM Brad Treliving wins the Quote Of The Week prize for: "Deadlines push decisions!"

* How come I like the Red Wings' new coach Derek Lalonde if I've never met the guy? Answer: He just looks like fun!

* Ottawa's Pierre Dorion says "We're in the next phase now."

* I've got news for Lucky Pierre; he should get his Senators into the next-to-the-next phase; build a downtown arena.

* Apart from The Hockey News, my first read every morning for a decade has been Kukla's Korner.

* Compelling Rangers question: If the Blueshirts somehow keep Ryan Strome, who'll grab Frank Vatrano and Andrew Copp?

* Or, if Strome says goodbye to Broadway, does Chris (Do it Right) Drury do a non-copout and re-snare Copp?

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THE GOAL I'LL NEVER FORGET, YVAN COURNOYER

Only Henri (The Pocket Rocket) Richard with 11 Stanley Cups has played on more Stanley Cup-winners than Yvan Cournoyer with ten.

Nicknamed "The Road Runner," this speed demon recently appeared on the Hockey Time Machine hosted by our pal Glenn Dreyfuss.

In one segment, Cournoyer described his most unforgettable goal.

I'll let Glenn take it from here:

"It happened in Montreal's 1971 semifinal playoff series at Minnesota, early in the second period of Game Three. As he crossed the blue line, Cournoyer was skating to the right of the lone North Stars defender. While at full gallop, Yvan removed his top right hand from his stick, replacing it with his left hand.

"Racing toward the near circle, his right hand re-gripped the stick below his left. Using that right hand to power his shot, Cournoyer blasted a goal past a shocked goalie Cesare Maniago."

Appearing on the Hockey Time Machine YouTube show, Cournoyer put it this way:

The reporters thought I threw a backhand shot for that goal. I actually had practiced that many times, many hours, changing hands. For the first time in 50 years, I got to see the replay, because (hockey historian extraordinaire) Paul Patskou sent me the video.

I saw my hands switching sides, and I still have chills! I worked harder for that goal than any other goal that I ever scored. All the guys said I was doing that (practicing right and left-handed) for nothing and that I would never score that way.

So, after I scored that goal in Minnesota, I went in front of my bench and said "Hey, guys, is it working or not?"

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ABOUT THE 3-ON-3 SUMMER HOCKEY LEAGUE

What do Bryan Trottier, Joe Mullen, Grant Fuhr, John LeClair, Larry Murphy and Guy Carbonneau have in common?

Believe it or not, these NHL heroes of yesteryear now are teammates, so to speak, with 3ICE, the new summer hockey league that has re-invented The Game.

No, they're not playing but they are coaching -- each with one of the six teams -- and so far, so good.

For starters, there are things to understand. As its name indicates, this is only 3-on-3 hockey with speed-up, and modifications on the NHL model. It's a non-stop summer touring circuit with no "home" arenas. And it encompasses 42 players spread across the six teams.

Almost a month old, #ICE is the brainchild of CEO-Founder, E. J. Johnston, son of former Bruins goalie Eddie Johnston. His coup was securing a multi-year American tv deal with CBS Sports in America and TSN and RDS in Canada. Also, there's an international deal with ESPN.

Writing in The Athletic, Sean Shapiro adds, "3ICE's next big play with be in sports gambling space. The league is well positioned for sports gaming with a bracket each week and six quick games at each stop.

"Whether you think the league is a gimmick or not, it's shored up some significant commitments."

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NEW BOOK DEPARTMENT, 'ENGRAVED IN HISTORY'

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Revered historian and author, Eric Zweig has completed a magnificent book about a long-forgotten -- yet amazing -- hockey club, the Kenora Thistles. My preview follows:

When it comes to Stanley Cup upsets we now have a new volume that tells about the grandfather of them all.

And, no, it's not a name you'll recall; not Maple Leafs, not Canadiens.

That is, unless you're familiar with the Kenora Thistles of 1907.

My good friend and noted Owen Sound, Ontario historian, Eric Zweig, has just published "Engraved In History -- The Story of the Cup champion Kenora Thistles; out of Western Ontario.

"With a population of around 6,000 people in 1907," Zweig notes on his book's jacket, "Kenora is the smallest town ever to produce a Stanley Cup champion. The town's team -- the Thistles -- were huge talents."

Published by Rat Portage Press, "Engraved in History." will not be available for public sale until the Fall. Right now the book is available at various outlets in Kenora including Elizabeth Campbell Books, the shop at the Lake of the Woods Museum.

Books can currently be ordered online at ratportagepress.com or by leaving a message on the Contact page on Elizabeth's website where you'll find a phone number you can call , or a comments section you can fill out.

One more tidbit from Eric and more on "Engraved in History," next Friday.

"In their heyday, the Kenora Thistles were known right across North America as a hockey powerhouse. Yes, they were the smallest of small-market teams, even in 1907, but they reached their greatest success mainly with a group of homegrown superstars that was supported by their entire community."

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FEMALE MILESTONES CONTINUE PILING UP

The first female coach of an AHL team was revealed by the Kraken. Ex-Cornell captain Jessica Campbell will be the AHL's Coachella (California) Firebirds asst. bench boss. Meanwhile, the Devils named Kate Madigan as assistant GM, another first.

And with the Jewish Olympics -- Maccabi Games -- slated to begin Wednesday in Jerusalem, one of the outstanding stickhandlers happens to be a hockey heroine as well.

Chelsey (Call Me Chels) Goldberg has worked for years to get women's hockey into the Maccabi Games and her dream finally will turn to reality in Jerusalem. But for Chels, this was the challenge of a lifetime.

"My twin brother represented Team USA in 2013," Chelsey revealed, "and when I asked to play on the men's team I was refused."

Indomitable, Chels decided that her crusade would switch to creating a women's tournament alongside the men's playoff.

Goldberg: "I took it upon myself -- with the help of one of the Maccabi Hockey board members -- to ensure that women's hockey would be present. At the time, I didn't know how long this would take but we're here, although it hasn't hit me yet that the dream is now a reality.

"Israel is incredible and I'm so grateful to be here.

"As for women's hockey, it's only on the rise and I'm so excited to see where it's going."

Frankly, it hasn't gone far enough. Competing interests so far has prevented creation of a hockey-type WNBA and that bothers me. When I asked Chelsey what still must be accomplished she put it this way:

"Our main goal is to create a place for women to play professionally while making a liveable income. And we are so close." Then, a pause; "Exciting times ahead!"

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MEDIA MUSINGS:

A Twitter Truism from Sportsnet's Mark Spector:

"If the Toronto market were hard on Dubas he wouldn't be GM anymore."

Or, NHL.com's Kevin Weekes on goaltending. My old pal hints that John Gibson could be the answer to Washington's goaltending prayers.

Or, Nick Tricome of the Philly Voice on the Flyers getting Tony DeAngelo: "It's a team spinning its wheels!"

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YOU TELL ME:

Travis Green, Jeff Blashill, Rick Tocchet and David Quinn are among the unemployed ex-NHL coaches. There's one gig left: San Jose. If you're GM Mike Grier, who do you pick? (I'm for Green.)

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ANSWER TO WHO SAID IT? Glen Sather on leaving as head coach of the Edmonton Oilers


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