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Fischler Report: Putting Price in His Proper Place

Stan Fischler and friends look at Carey Price's legacy with the Canadiens, the Arizona Coyotes, the Vegas Golden Knights, the time when NHLers couldn't play with partial blindness, Mason McTavish, Phil Kessel and so much more.

PUTTING CAREY PRICE IN HIS PROPER PLACE

It's looking like it's over for Carey Price and that's a terrible thing to say, but facts are facts so let me cut to the chase. Is the Canadiens goaltender a Hall of Famer or not?

No need for arithmetic nor analytics, I go to the ice bible -- The Hockey News. Page 23, Matt Larkin's profile last fall of the then hopeful Hab.

One quote says it all about Carey from the most reputable Bolts g.m. Julien BriseBois: "He's got a Hall of Fame career if he retires right now. That's just the reality."

A year later, the reality is here and, in due time, Carey Price will be inducted into Hockey's Pantheon. He has to make it.

I say that not just because Julien BriseBois said so, but because Carey Price deserves it. Period!

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A FLICKER OF LIGHT AT THE END OF THE COYOTES TUNNEL

It's easy to write off Chicago and Arizona as hockey disaster areas. After all, everybody and his Uncle Dudley have been whacking the down clubs.

But not my roving columnist Al (Know All, See All) Greenberg.

His theme -- borrowing a line from William Shakespeare -- is "Sweet are the uses of adversity." Or, to put it another realistic way, there's light at the end of both the Hawks and Yotes tunnels. It's just that the light is a mere flicker and far away. Al will now tell you why:

Arizona: Second-year coach Andre Tourigny has challenges, to be sure. But he also boasts emerging stars. Start with Clayton Keller and Nick Schmaltz. Then, add the Lawson Crouse grit and goal-scoring. When injury-free, Jakob Chychrun is an annual Norris Trophy contender. No question, more scoring is needed and, perhaps Tourigny may extract it down the line.

Unfortunately, the coach can't double as a goaltender. He could put a big sign over the Arizona net that says it all, oy vay. Last year poor Andre struggled with no less than six netminders, and none were encouraging. This time, Tourigny can only hope that the likes of last year's rookie, Karel Vejmelka, will find his game the second time around. Other aspirants include Jon Gillies and Ivan Prosvetov.

One more time, oy vay!

The hope is that new signings such as Nick Bjugsad, Troy Stecher, Zack Kassian, Josh Brown and Patrik Nemeth all can enjoy career years. (Reminds me of an old tune, "I Can Dream Can't I?")

Now for the good news. Arizona had three first-round Draft picks this year. Last year's first-rounder, Dylan Guenther, electrified the WHL and has a good chance of sticking this semester. With more than $20 million in cap space the Yotes will have the opportunity to deal when the time is right.

Off ice, things have improved dramatically with financially stable ownership, a new temporary arena and a Tempe state-of-the-art building on the horizon. And, yes, the fan base always has been there. (If you don't believe me, check with Auston Matthews!)

(NEXT ISSUE: WHY THE BLACKHAWKS CAN FOOL THE CYNICS.)

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THE BIG QUESTION: WHAT DO THE KNIGHTS DO NOW?

For a team that became a baby franchise hit so fast, it's hard to believe that Vegas is on its third coach in five years; and, seemingly, its 30th migraine.

A hockey headache in Sin City can be defined by an invisible starting netminder in the crease. Ergo: coach Bruce Cassidy's folk song: "Where Have all the Goalies Gone?"

That's also GM Kelly McCrimmon's problem since he's the guy who made salary cap trades including the departure of center Max (Don't Call Me Maximillian) Pacioretty to Carolina.

Apart from fervent prayer, McCrimmon could hope for a long shot; meaning hope that the trio of padded puck-stoppers in his stable actually can become a Shesterkin-type overnight hero.

So far neither Laurent Brossoit, Michael Hutchinson and Logan Thompson have "backup" written all over them.

This means that the likes of Jack Eichel, Mark Stone & Co. had better buy a copy of "Backchecking Made Easy."

The other distant hope -- far, far away, as a matter of fact -- is that some g.m. with a No. 1 and No. 1A goalie decides that there's someone he'd like on Vegas -- who knows? -- a deal could be made.

Right now, the answer is -- Brossoit, Hutchinson, Thompson, or bust!

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NON-PLAYOFF TEAMS THAT'LL MAKE IT THIS YEAR (PART 2)

Our roving columnist Irad Chen picked the Devils and Senators as the pair of clubs who'll gain the postseason in 2022-23. Now, Chen looks West:

WINNIPEG: The offense has been there and now new coach Rick (I Like Determined D-Men) Bowness will successfully solve the defensive dilemma. Redoubtable Rick is respected and liked by his troops. He'll not only figure out the D-deficiencies but also inspire another A-1 season out of Connor Hellebuyck. This is a team with talent on paper that will convert the abilities to the ice.

VEGAS: Granted, the loss of Lehner will hurt but the likes of Stone, Eichel and Pietrangelo will more than compensate. Simply put, that Core will make up for the goaltending weakness. Nor will it hurt that Cassidy helped improve the likes of Marchand, McAvoy and Pastrnak into Beantown stars. Best of all, I expect the Cassidy Effect to inspire Eichel into a career season.

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WHO SAID IT? "What would you rather have me do -- get some (Ottawa) Senators?" (ANSWER BELOW.)

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WHO DO YOU ROOT FOR AFTER YOU ROOT FOR YOUR FAVORITE TEAM?

Every hockey fan has his and her No. 1 team. That's automatic.

But that leaves another 31 clubs to choose from, prompting the question: who else do you like, second-best?

I tried this one on author Sean McCaffrey.

We all know that he's a Rangers fan since he's already written two books about them: "The New York Rangers Rink of Honor And The Rafters of Madison Square Garden" and "One Game At A Time -- A Season To Remember."

Plus, he has two more in the works.

So, I put the question to him: Who else do you like?

"Ottawa is at the top of my list," he says. "They haven't made the playoffs since 2017 but now they have an exciting roster.

"I like the adds of Claude Giroux and Cam Talbot along with Alex Debrincat. They should make the playoffs and have a solid core. Consider this talent: Brady Tkachuk, Thomas Chabot, Josh Norris, Tim Stutzle and Drake Batherson.

"Out west, I'm pulling for Anaheim. It's been four years since they made the playoffs, but what I like here are the kids. Troy Terry and Trevor Zigras are the real goods. Plus. Ryan Strome and Frank Vatrano already showed what they could do last season in New York.

"And if Mason McTavish can make the team -- he was third overall in the 2021 draft -- there's a stud in the making.

"One more thing; I have to put in a good word for Nashville.

There's a lot to like with Roman Josi and Ryan McDonagh on the blue line and the addition of Nino Niederreiter up front.. The Preds have always had in them to win."

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DIDJA KNOW?

(Editor's Note: This is our latest feature; a kind of historic anecdote not generally known. So, here it goes).

Didja know there was such a thing as "The Trushinski Bylaw?"

No kidding. Bylaw 12.6 of the NHL once forbade players who were sightless in one eye from playing. It stated that players with one eye or 3/60th of normal vision should not be eligible to play for a member club.

Loss of 75 percent of sight in an eye required for insurance to take effect.

This regulation became known as "The Trushinski Bylaw" because of a player named Frank (Snoozer) Trushinsi who played right defense for the Kitchener Greenshirts. According to NHL officials at the time, Trushinski lost sight in one eye playing hockey and came back and lost most of the sight in the other eye from another accident. The NHL didn't want that to happen again so it passed Bylaw 12.6.

The Trushinski Bylaw became important in 1939 when Toronto Maple Leafs left wing George Parsons lost his left eye to an injury during a game against the Black Hawks.

"NHL president Frank Calder told me that I couldn't play in the NHL again," said Parsons. "Calder said that the NHL governors wouldn't allow one-eyed players in the league because of the Trushinski precedent.. Calder said the NHL didn't want it to happen again."

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I'M JUST SAYIN'

* Mason McTavish's overtime-double-save at the World Junior's belongs in the Hall of Fame even if a new category must be created for it.

* Too bad there's no Best NHL Summer General Manager Award.

* Hands down winner would be the Flames boss Brad Treliving for turning Calgary from a hockey hellhole into Puck Paradise.

* Our Hockey News' creative Mike Stephens has a compelling piece about one of my favorite puck-pushers, Phil Kessel.

* Stephens correctly projects either Edmonton, Dallas or L.A. as Phiery Phil's next destination. Me? I don't care where Kessel camps as long as he's back in the NHL.

* When one of your favorite TSN -- or Sportsnet --insiders has a "scoop," you can bet he'll open his Tweet with just two words, "Hearing that...." (Never fails.)

* Good point by the Toronto Sun's Steve Simmons: How come nobody's nabbed Sam Gagner. "He'll play for cheap," says Simmons, who -- by the way -- won't have to pay him.

* In the days of the Old West, the expression was, "Pike's Peak Or Bust!"

In the New West, the Knights will be giving away miniature busts of coach

Bruce Cassidy at their first exhibition game.

* While they're at it, the Vegas high command might also do due diligence and find a real -- not miniature -- goalie who can get them back to the playoffs.

* If Nazem Kadri is worth a seven-year deal, Connor McDavid is worth 70 years.

* For rumor's sake, here's a short-range and long-range guess: P.K. Subban to San Jose and Tyler Bertuzzi from Detroit in a later-season trade.

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Yay Boo

YAYS AND BOOS:

YAY TO TEAM CANADA for going Gold in Edmonton. You can't beat 7-0-0.

And a secondary Yay to the Finns for doing everything but finishing the Canadians.

BOO TO TEAM CANADA for going oh-for-ten on the power play in the Final. They should have blown out the Finns.

YAY TO TEAM CANADA because the power play failure provided a Disney-type finish! 

BOO TO THE CAREY PRICE NEWS that he's not likely to play for the Habs next season and possibly forever.

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A RIDDLE WITH AN ANSWER:

Question: What did Gordie Howe, Maurice (Rocket) Richard and Bobby Hull have in common vis-a-vis the New York Rangers?

Answer: Howe's first training camp was with the Blueshirts and-- he left in the middle of it -- mocked by some vets and homesick as well.

The Rocket, as a young rookie, was supposed to be traded to the Rangers for Phil Watson but Rangers manager Lester Patrick -- after re-thinking --

pulled out of the deal before it was consummated.

Bobby Hull played for the Rangers on their barnstorming tour of Europe with the Bruins in 1959. Although The Golden Jet was a young throw-in for the roster, he later said the experience was the turning point of his career.

(Thanks to George Grimm, author of "We Did Everything But Win" for this gem.)

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SERGEI BRYLIN -- A SPECIAL DEVILS HIRE

Brylin is joining the New Jersey coaching staff as an assistant to Lindy Ruff. Here's why I'm extra happy about it:

In the fall of 1994, the SportsChannel network broadcast New Jersey Devils games.

There was only one problem in October of that year -- there were no games to telecast because the NHL was involved in a bitter work stoppage.

To provide content and compensate for the absence of Devils contests, SportsChannel did the next best thing; it decided to feature New Jersey's AHL farm team of the time -- the Albany River Rats. And that's where I came in -- along with a peach-faced little Russian named Sergei Brylin.

Since our first televised game was an exhibition match and all the River Rats were new to me, I asked River Rats p.r. guy, Eric Servatah to print a thumbnail sketch so I'd know who was who when they came through the players' entrance.

One by one they trooped in -- Mike Dunham, Corey Schwab, Kevin Dean, et.al. -- until all the troops had passed by; well, almost all. Suddenly a little fellow who looked like an alter boy came scurrying along; literally bringing up the rear.

"Who's that?" I asked as the fellow disappeared into the dressing room.

"I'm not sure," said Eric, "lemme check."

He scanned his list to the last page and finally found a scribbled note. "It's some new Russian kid. Name is Sergei Brylin and I know nothing about him."

And that was my introduction to a rare individual who played on each of New Jersey's three Stanley Cup-winners and who survived and thrived on smarts and indefatigable hustle.

Almost three decades later, those are the same qualities he's bringing to the current Devils. In an interview with Amanda Stein, the fellow nicknamed Sarge called this an "exciting time" for him and the hockey club.

"We have good, young guys maturing and getting more experience," Brylin added. "Talented young guys like Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes are going to take their game to a higher level." Then, a pause: "We all have a higher level and together we can do something special."

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DEVILS PLAY-BY-PLAY GUY, BILL SPAULDING'S 3-MINUTE 3D DEGREE

The Devils -- and Madison Square Garden Networks' -- new play-by-play guy knows he's got a tough act to follow now that Steve Cangialosi has exited amid raves. With that in mind, I thought it wise to toss a few subjects at Spaulding so as to get to know him better. Bill's replies follow the topics:

His Favorite Broadcaster -- Favorite NHL Team: Two broadcasters were formative for me. The first was Doc Emrick. He was the best in the business -- from his vocabulary to his demeanor to the way his voice rose to the big moments and made your head snap back to the television. It's hard to imagine anyone ever doing the job better than Doc. Since my Mom's family is from Philadelphia, I heard Jim Jackson of the Flyers a lot while I was growing up. I always enjoyed his energy and his distinctive sound.

Spaulding's goal style as opposed to the original Foster Hewitt's 'He Scores!"

I've tried to avoid having only one go-to call or catch-phrase. It's important to stay fresh and not predictable. 'Shoots and Scores!' is certainly part of my repertoire. But I like to match the call with the action. For example, you might hear, 'Hischier bangs it in on the rebound' on a gritty goal in front or, 'Blasts and Scores' on a tip from the blue line.

On Theory That There Should Be 60-40 ratio in favor of your team: I tend to agree with something close to that 60-40 split. We'll certainly focus on our storylines on the Devils and on what Devils fans want to know. But I also think it's important to provide solid context on the opponents and the stories surrounding the opposing team to really show what is on the line in each game.

Broadcasters Who Most Influenced Him: I mentioned Doc and Jim; plus I've always enjoyed listening to John Forslund and Kenny Albert as well. As for the younger generation of broadcasters, Brendan Burke is absolutely tremendous. I also worked with LA Kings broadcaster Alex Faust and always learned something from him and have been thrilled to see his success at the NHL level. But at the end of the day I try to avoid emulating anyone too closely. It's really important to be yourself and be comfortable in being yourself on the air. I was lucky to listen to a Hall of Famer like Sam Rosen and lucky to be joining his (MSG Networks) team.

Beating Very Tough Competition From Vets: I auditioned with Ken Danyeko and the team on June 30th. While I felt the audition went well, I realized how competitive the position was going to be. Knowing the history of the Devils' booth and the line of tremendous announcers, from Al Albert and Larry Hirsch through Gary Thorne and Doc and then what Cangy was able to do over the last 11 seasons. I figured that many of the top young hockey broadcasters -- plus some established NHL folks -- would be interested. I'm incredibly humbled to follow all of those outstanding broadcasters and I can't wait to get started.

How He Learned He Got The Gig: I was running errands on August 1st when I saw a New York City area code pop up on my cell phone. It was MSG's Jeff Filippi calling me to tell me that I was the network's choice for the job. It was a surreal experience with so many emotions flooding in. I started to think about all of the work I'd put in to get to the point where an opportunity like this was a reality and all the support from family, friends, teachers and colleagues along the way who helped me get there!

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ANSWER TO WHO SAID IT? Rangers GM Neil Smith, responding to criticism of all the ex-Oilers on his Rangers.

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