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Fischler Report: Move on, Connor!

Will Connor McDavid spend his entire career in Edmonton? Stan Fischler doesn't believe so. He tackles that topic, shares his thoughts on Clark Gillies, continues his chat with Doc Emrick and more.

The Constitutions of Canada and the United States allow for good, clean discussions about millionaire hockey players.

With that in mind, how about this:

Do you believe that Connor McDavid wants to spend the rest of his hockey-playing life in Edmonton? I don't.

Did Wayne Gretzky? No. The Great One loved L.A.

Did Mark Messier? No. He loved New York.

Or, recent Hall of Famer Kevin Lowe? No again. (See Mess)

At least the above trio previously had enjoyed Stanley Cup years in The True North. So far, Lord Connor has known nothing but cold and cold-hearted underachieving Oilers sextets.

As Rob Tychkowski noted in The Hockey News Yearbook: McDavid has "One playoff win to show for the first six years of his NHL career."

You'd think he'd tell his battery of agents, marketeers and assorted other reps something akin to "Enough already! Get me outa here!"

Granted that Edmonton ranks among the all-time intense hockey cities, overflowing with super-intelligent fans and writers who can tell the expiration dates on Official NHL Pucks.

As much as The Great One enjoyed Northlands Coliseum, he also found happiness in Tinseltown, the Mound City -- alias St. Lou -- and, yeah-yeah, The Big Apple.

Ditto for Captain Mark and The Vastly Underrated Lowe. They loved New York. McDavid would too. MSG is a mere slapshot away from The Great White Way.

Just for a moment, drop your Fantasy game, and fantasize how McDavid's name -- and game -- would look in Hollywood. Or, State Street-That-Great Street in Chi. Or, Broadway!

Of course, it ain't gonna happen; at least not right away 'cause King Connor is as loyal as -- well -- as loyal as his reps will let him be.

But that was true of Gretz; until that L.A. deal came along. And you Edmontonians who know your history, realize that Messier thrived wherever else he went -- with one exception. And Lowe helped the Blueshirts win a Cup.

Stranger things have happened. Why even New York Yankees legend Babe Ruth wound up playing for Boston and Beantown's most famous hockey player, Bobby Orr finished his career in Chicago Stadium.

Granted, you loyal Edmontnians, it's only a thought but worth a minute of your time. Furthermore, thoughts can happen. Ask Gretz!

CLARK GILLIES -- THE BEST! In more than a half-century on the sports beat, I've never met a more well-liked, nor respected, nor competent pro athlete than Clark (Jethroe) Gillies. In many ways, he was the face of the four-Cup, Islanders dynasty; a class act with a capital C.

As a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame Selection Committee in 1993, I nominated Gillies to the Pantheon but Clark was rejected. That egregious move was rectified a few years later and the left wing nicknamed "Jethroe" moved in with his HOF linemates Mike Bossy and Bryan Trottier.

But the Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan native was as admired for his charitable off-ice work as a permanent member of the Long Island community as well as a natural bon vivant at assorted gatherings.

"When Clark went into a room it lightened up," said Isles forward Matt Martin. "I know, personally, that the first time I met Jethroe, I said to myself, 'I want to be like that man!"

Matty was not alone. The outpouring of grief following Gillies' passing underlined Martin's point. We all wanted to be like Clarkie because he was so warm, so funny, so real, so, so good! R.I.P. old pal.

TORTS WAS RIGHT AFTER ALL: Remember last fall when the Oilers were ridin' high and McDavid seemed to have hand-built a thruway to the enemy crease?

I do. And one of the commentaries I remember most of all was delivered by John Tortorella on an ESPN panel. Candid as always, Torts pointed out the egregious flaws in McDavid's all-offense-no-D style. King Connor had better learn how to play "more of a 200-foot game."

J.T. was right on; still is because McDavid wears the Captain's "C" and is supposed to lead by example. But if McD remains simply offensive-minded, his teammates will naturally follow suit. Ergo: the Oilers are simply offensive-minded because that's the example set by the leader.

"Most opposing teams have enough speed to double up on both McDavid and on Draisaitl when they hit the blue line," one scout reveals, "and that forces the pair into plays they don't want to make."

Our supreme Oilers-watcher, Gus Vic, offers this warning: "Dave Tippett has to get them in the mindset of winning 3-2 and 2-1 games. There needs to be a concerted defensive posture which will make them difficult to play against in all three zones.

"The big question is do they have the mental fortitude to make that commitment over several months?"

My answer: Not with the shoddy goaltending we've seen so far!


* What was Gerard Gallant thinking on Friday night? He plays his second-string goalie, Alex Georgiev, against Carolina's best puck-stopper, Fred Andersen, and gets clobbered 6-3. Why do that GG when you've got one of the best netminders, Iggie Shesterkin? Error!! Don't let it happen again.

* If they make the postseason the Oilers go out in the first playoff round unless Ken Holland upgrades his goaltending. Period! Saturday night's win over Calgary was a mere aberration.

* Trouble is that Holland is dealing from a position of weakness. Even worse -- as my buddy Gus notes -- "Koskinen is sucking a lot of cash out of the organization."

* This from an insightful scout: "How can Edmonton do this for six straight years. How come they lose the best player in the game to mediocrity?"

* One of Florida GM Bill Zito's best, quiet moves was the acquisition of Brandon Montour; and with no significant loss of a meaningful asset. Montour anchors the third offensive pairing and second power play unit, and does it so well.

* If Edmonton misses the playoffs, the following will be held accountable: Kailer Yamamoto, Jesse Puljujarvi, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and, yeah, the latest multimillionaire, Zach Hyman.

* Then again, Ken Holland cannot ignore the fact that his defense is not big enough and does not defend well enough.

* Nick Fotiu and the Mullen Brothers -- Joey and Brian -- were among the first New York City-born players to skate for the Rangers. The latest is Anthony Greco. Upon his promotion, he impressed against San Jose with 9.44 of ice time, five shots on goal and the hustle that made him an AHL sniper.

* Florida's coaching transition has been seamless. It was wise of g.m. Zito not to bring in another name coach who would change the system. A key Cats asset is lots of good chemistry.

* Likewise, a possibly vulnerable area is goaltending behind the versatile Bob.

Good thing that Spencer Knight is improving his game.

* Yay to the NHL schedule-makers for revisions that will enable the regular season to end as originally planned, on April 29th. This was the challenge of all challenges and it was well met.

* "Boo," says pal Rob Del Mundo, "to the term, 'Good Goal.' It should disappear from hockey lexicon never to come back. Say, simply, a goal is a goal. A goal can never be 'good.' It's just a goal. Remove the 'good' for good!"

* A scout who recently watched the Coyotes filed this note: "Lawson Crouse plays an impressive game."( At 6-4. 220 pounds, he's hard to miss."

* Speaking of Arizona, you have to figure that Phil Kessel -- he's on the final year of his contract -- will be shopped when the Trade Deadline comes up.

* I admire our Adam Proteau's recent piece on fixing the Oilers; especially the no-holds-barred, #1 on his list. Fire Dave Tippett. Since Adam didn't name a successor, I say John Tortorella. Torts has McDavid figured out. He'd teach some of those other one-way forwards how to backcheck!


In George Orwell's iconic novel, Animal Farm, he wrote "All animals are equal but some are more equal than others." My NHL version goes like this:

All superior NHL teams are equal, but some are more superior than others.

That explains why the last Leafs-Rangers collision at Madison Square Garden bears retroactive scrutiny. A Toronto win would have placed them a mere point behind New York. We're talking about a pair of big-time Cup contenders.

The significance: The Visitors blew a pair of leads and lost 6-3. Igor Shesterkin was better than Jack Campbell in goal. New York won on defense and Auston Matthews went for a schnei. Bottom Line: The Leafs are not superior enough.

Toronto-watcher Mike Augello warns that Kyle Dubas "will be hard-pressed to add a key player before the trade deadline." Ergo: the g.m. must add one playoff-worthy defenseman; possibly John Klingberg of Dallas or Toronto native Mark Giordano.

"Fitting any of their salaries could be a difficult challenge," Augello concludes.

My conclusion is that if that loss to the Rangers is a portent of things to come, Dubas had better stock up on one D-man -- and his aspirins!


(EDITOR'S NOTE: In a series of exclusive interviews, Hall of Fame broadcaster Mike (Doc) Emrick tells all about the ice games he enjoyed most. Here's his latest installment:

"Some of the fun ones I look back on include New Jersey Devils games and, in particular, their Stanley Cup-clincher -- Game Four against Detroit -- in 1995. I was doing the games on the Fox Network, working alongside John Davidson. As it happened J.D. and I were only slated to do Games One and Four so we lucked out since the Devils had won the first three in a row. Had New Jersey lost that Game Four, I doubt whether John and I would have been able to do the next one or two games.

"It was especially gratifying to do the Game Four clincher since I had followed the Devils all that 1994-95 season and got to know everyone in the organization. So, to get a chance to describe their first ever Stanley Cup clinch was very special.

"Another fun one for me was doing the 2010 Gold Medal Game in Vancouver when the outcome was in doubt to the very end. Canada led in the final minute and the U.S. goalie Ryan Miller was pulled. Then, Zach Parise scored for the U.S. and forced overtime. After that Sidney Crosby won it in OT,

"That was one terrific thing, but then we had interviews with both Miller and Crosby after the game and in front of the largest audience since 1980 to watch a hockey telecast. They both spoke so eloquently about the game, the sport and all else. I never was more proud to be involved in hockey."


WRITER VS. SUPERSTAR: A big deal of sorts followed Leon Draisailt's peevish quasi-answers to Edmonton Journal's vet reporter Jim Matheson last week during the Oilers slump. Stuff like that happens. But it was small potatoes compared to the night 'way back when Detroit Times hockey guy Lew Walter confronted Blackhawks coach Charlie Conacher with a question. Lew forgot to duck Chuck. He leveled the writer with a solid right to the kisser! A pure TKO.

WHO SAID IT? "It's sixty minutes of hell!" (Answer below.)


Every month -- as a public service, of course -- I'll be presenting a "Scoop" prize to the "Insider" who beats his or her competition with big news. Will it be Darren Dreger, Elliotte Friedman, Pierre LeBrun or any one of the competition. I'm figuring that this month the prize should go to whichever "Insider" tells us first which NHL team will sign Evander Kane. (In case you're interested, the prize will be a Wooden Medal.) As usual, my money is on the Dauntless Dreger.

WHAT'S NEXT FOR THE KING: Henrik Lundqvist will have his Number 30 jersey retired by the Rangers on January 28th and it will be a festive occasion at Madison Square Garden. Over the long history of this New York franchise there have been few more popular players. Like Ed Giacomin before him, King Henrik became "The People's Choice" and no finer tribute can be made.

One expert on Rangers netminding history is author George Grimm who wrote the definitive Blueshirt goaltending tome, "Guardians Of The Goal." Grimm places Henrik in the franchise crease Pantheon, along with Cup-winners such as Davey Kerr and MIke Richter. Now Henrik is taking a crack at hockey analysis on tv.

Grimm: "Lindqvist, who holds every Ranger goaltending record and won the Vezina Trophy in 2012, has blended very nicely with his on-air (MSG Networks) partners. In fact, his plain spoken description of the games is a welcome respite from Steve Valiquette's overly analytics-based analysis."

Hank still has to decide whether or not to go full-time with MSG Networks. He's got a spate of business opportunities to exploit and may decide to do part-time tv work as a compromise. This much is certain; the man has become a true New Yorker and will do well in any endeavor. After all, he's got the knack!

ANSWER TO WHO SAID IT: Hall of Fame goaltender Glenn Hall on puck-stopping.



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