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Fischler Report: The Genius of Kyle Dubas

Stan Fischler takes a look at Vic Hadfield's diary's impact on the Canada 72 Summit Series, the genius of Toronto Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas, yays and boos, and everything in between.
Jason Spezza and Kyle Dubas

HOW VIC HADFIELD'S DIARY HANDLED CANADA'S '72 SUMMIT WIN

After walking out on Team Canada in Moscow, Vic Hadfield continued his diary right up to the Canadians' sensational Game 8 triumph. As a true sportsman, he congratulated the winners; but Vic's bitterness lingered on in an October 1, 1972 entry.

"I guess you could say Team Canada won in spite of Harry Sinden. There was a big celebration in Toronto when Team Canada returned home. People who were booing them across Canada at the start were finally cheering the players and jumping back on the bandwagon. I wonder how they would have acted if Team Canada had lost?"

The answer to that is obvious. They would have been drawn, quartered, and vilified Team Canada as they had earlier in the series when their team fell behind in the series. Vic returned to his home in Oakville and his side of the story continued to evolve. Soon, fans and media began to support him. Here's how Hadfield concluded his October 1 Diary entry:

"I have received more good mail than bad in the past week. Oh, there have been a few hate letters, but many other people apparently stopped to think and consider the decision I made.

"They congratulated me for standing by it. They've done a lot to cheer me up in recent days."

THE GENIUS OF KYLE DUBAS

Once you get past his professorial eyeglasses, you get an idea of just how really smart this Toronto cookie really is. Kyle Dubas is quite the character.

1. He still has his job.

2. He has Toronto -- not Brooklyn -- street smarts; more than you know.

3. He has a good gift of gab as his most recent, gala press conference proved.

4. He's borderline likable.

But beyond all this mish-mash, the Maple Leafs' generalissimo has survived one of the dumbest moves in Toronto hockey history -- the absurdly expensive signing of John Tavares.

First, we must dispense with the fact that Honest John is a genuinely good guy who, more often than not, means well. Unfortunately, none of that Boy Scout stuff gets his club past the first playoff round.

The fact is that Tavares never was a superstar on Long Island and it's even debatable how good a captain he was at the time.

Good, by the way, is not to be confused with great.

So what Dubas has is a player who isn't worth half the salary he's getting; who the Islanders did very well without; thank you.

Dubas wasted a ton of Larry Tanenbaum's good money on the Captain, disrupted his salary cap, and is stuck with Johnny Pyjamas 'til the cows come home.

The point is that -- through the whole money miss -- Kyle Dubas still has his gig.

A HILARIOUS DEFENSE OF DUBAS

Sportsnet's Luke Fox says Dubie Dubas deserves a one-year extension so he's not now viewed as a "Lame Duck."

Judging by the manner in which Dubie has tossed Larry Tanenbaum's dough around without even a first-round victory, I suggest that no duck is preferable to this lame duck.

PURE WORDS OF WISDOM ABOUT NATHAN MACKINNON

Joltin' Joe Dionisio is the smartest hockey guy I know -- give or take a couple of self-styled "Insiders" -- so when The Jolter speaks, I listen. You should too:

"Speaking of contracts and the Avalanche, I'm amused by the glaring omission in the press coverage of MacKinnon's negotiations. All I see are repetitive mentions of how long he's been 'underpaid.' And whether he'll outdo Connor McDavid as the NHL's top (money) dog.

"The real takeaway that merits more emphasis? You can easily make the case that Colorado does NOT win the Stanley Cup if MacKinnon was highly paid over the past half-decade. If Big Nate was earning Patrick Kane money all that time, on math alone you'd have to remove one skater from the Avs roster. That doesn't even take into account the ripple effect if Colorado's best player had hit a financial home run.

"You cannot deny the correlation between superstars taking a discount and improving their chances of capturing the NHL's Holy Grail. Just ask Patrice Bergeron, who has never earned more than $6.8 million, or Steven Stamkos ($8.5M), yet both managed to lift The Cup.

"The money that NHL superstars decide upon is an excellent barometer of their priorities. Which is terrible news for the Maple Leafs who are paying John Tavares $11 million (YIKES!) to be a second-line center." (One more time: YIKES!!)

FOUR MORE WITH CHARA

When I think of Zdeno Chara, four minor memories intrude:

1. MAGNIFICENT GOAL: At Madison Square Garden, Big Z, the rookie Islander, corralled the puck at the right point, barged past everyone, circled the net, and fired home the most beautiful backhander since Rocket Richard.

2. A LITTLE RESPECT, PLEASE: As a gag, I did a morning skate tv interview with The Large Man while I was standing on a ladder. I thought it was funny, but Chara was hissed off at the sight gag, and told me so in a nice quiet way. And I apologized.

3. DAVID AND GOLIATH: Every foe who battled the Skating Battleship did so on his terms. But the best contrast of all took place when the Devils' feisty (5-5) Brian Gionta battled body to body with Z. It could have been called, "The Mouse That Roared."

4. NEVER STOP TRAINING: We had been in Ottawa for a Devs-Sens game which was won by the home team. Quite a bit later, my producer wanted an interview with Z. "Sorry," he said, "But first I have to finish my workout." P.S. He did oblige after his pedaling. Or, as the late, great, W.C. Fields would have said about Pal Zdeno: Whatta Man; Whatta Guy!

PERSISTENT PAUL MAURICE ASKS A QUESTION AND THEN ANSWERS IT

How do you improve on a team that did everything right until the last four games?

ANSWER: Add more grit. And the new Sunrise synonym for grit is spelled MATTHEW TKACHUK!

WHO SAID IT? "Some of these kids are almost too young to spell Stanley."

(ANSWER BELOW)

GET THE REFEREES OFF THE ICE -- THE 75-YEAR-OLD BERT LEE PLAN

In 1947 the Rangers' play-by-play broadcaster, Bert Lee, caused quite a stir when he wrote an article in the Blueshirts magazine recommending a major change in officiating. Get the zebra off the ice. In those pre-historic NHL days, only one referee and two linesmen ruled the rink, and -- just like today -- the zebras regularly got the Bronx Cheer; sometimes worse. In his controversial article, Lee proposed that the officials be placed in a '"Crow's Nest" suspended directly over center ice. His suggestion was brought about -- Lee claimed -- by long observations of handicaps under which a ref operates. Lee pointed out that the referee works under the most trying conditions ever handed out to an official in any sport and it has many times proven impossible for one official to handle the entire rink.

If nothing else, Bert caused much discussion among sportswriters and officials but nothing came of it. To this day, critics believe the system can be improved. 

(See Irad Chen's solution below.)

A 2022 BLUEPRINT FOR MAKING OFFICIATING MORE EFFICIENT

Let’s face it the toughest job in hockey is officiating. My suggestion is that the NHL takes a cue from TNT. The network has used a ref analyst who pops up when a controversial call has been made. I submit that the NHL should add "eyes in the skies" as a supplement to those on the ice. The off-ice ref -- as Bert Lee suggested 75 years ago -- should be located over center ice with a full view of the rink. He could make "second opinion" recommendations to the Toronto War Room where the final decision would be made. One more suggestion: Expand the coaches’ challenge to include too many men on the ice and hand passes. 

Can't hurt, could it?

HOCKEY BOOK OF THE MONTH SUGGESTION

"Ed Snider: The Last Sports Mogul" is a winner. The new biography of the late Flyers' owner is more than a book for Broad Streeters; it's for everyone.

Author Alan Bass knew the controversial Snider inside out and reveals a ton of league secrets. I gave Bass the Third Degree and here's how he dealt with the following subjects:

What The Broad Street Bullies Did For Hockey

They helped hockey’s popularity in the Philadelphia region which is all that it needed to do. Ed did not care what others thought of his team – so long as he and the fans could be proud of them. The Broad Street Bullies to me are less about fighting and more about passion, grit, and the willingness to fight for your city and teammates. Ed understood this and perhaps personified it more than anyone else in Philadelphia history. The fact that Philadelphia still has a love affair with those Flyers teams of the 70s speaks volumes to how much Ed understood the city. And let’s not forget that the “Broad Street Bullies” had three Hall of Fame players and a Hall of Fame coach on the roster! You can fight all you want, but they still had to score goals.

Snider's Successful Character Traits:

Ed’s passion has to be number one. One of his mantras was that money is the reward, not the reason. No matter how much money you’re making, you have to love what you do and, if you do it correctly, the money will follow. Up until the day he died, Ed woke up every day fiery and passionate about his Flyers and the entire company he ran. It energized him. When he was in his late 70s, a Flyers beat writer asked him when he would retire. He narrowed his eyes and said, “What else would you like me to do, grow flowers?”

How Being a CPA Helped him: 

On top of his passion, his intelligence with numbers allowed him to view complex business scenarios very easily. He could take a stack of papers and peruse them in just a few minutes, understanding every piece of it. It would be impossible to grow the businesses he did without that level of intelligence.

The Snider Loyalty: 

Many can point to this as a weakness, and there certainly were times when his loyalty blinded him to some major issues within his company, both with the Flyers and in Spectacor/Comcast-Spectacor as a whole. But he would give everything to those that gave to him. He understood that those Flyers players of the 70s were the reason he saw any success at all with the team. Because of that, he was always and forever willing to do anything for them, most of which was never reported. If you gave everything to Ed and his companies, he would give everything in return. 

(It's a Triumph Book)

YAYS AND BOOS:

YAY TO MIKE TRAIKOS OF THE NATIONAL POST for having the chutzpah to write that the Leafs have a chance to miss the playoffs.

BOO TO ED GRANEY OF THE VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL for suggesting that Canadian fans harbor "some serious bitterness toward everything that's Golden Knights." (What did Vegas ever do to deserve that?)

YAY TO CHELSEY GOLDBERG, captain of the Silver Medal Women's Hockey Team USA in the recent Maccabi Games. Chels will be honored next month in L.A. as a "Legend of the Maccabiah," recognizing her accomplishments on and off the ice.

BOO TO THE WRITERS WHO ALREADY ARE GUESSING WHO THE NEXT LEAFS GM WILL BE. How about giving Dubas this season to prove himself before journalistically lynching him?

BIG D -- AS IN DALLAS -- THE CENTRAL DIVISION SLEEPER

The Stars just barely made the playoffs and then gave Calgary a run for its money before being eliminated in overtime of Game 7. Under new head coach Peter DeBoer, the Stars are poised to earn a top-three spot in the Central Division and be a postseason dark horse. DeBoer has a combination of a young, talented core group in goalie Jake Oettinger, defenseman Miro Heiskanen and forwards Roope Hintz and Jason Robertson, supported by quality veterans Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, Ryan Suter, and Joe Pavelski. After losing veterans John Klingberg and Vladislav Namestnikov over the summer, GM Jim Nill added winger Mason Marchment and defenseman Colin Miller via free agency. Nill also was successful in signing Oettinger to a three-year, $12 million extension after the 23-year-old took over the starting duties.

I'M JUST SAYIN'

* The overkill talk about Connor Bedard as a guaranteed first pick in the 2023 Entry Draft sounds to me as if he'll wind up third.

* Detroit's rookie head coach Derek Lalonde broke up his training camp groups with three names, Howe, Lindsay and Delvecchio.

* Somebody who knows should have told the rookie that the original center on the Wings' Production Line was not Alex Delvecchio; it was Sid Abel.

* There's talk that the NHL Players' Association is looking to replace Donald Fehr, presto change-oh.

* Ah, but those who know Fearless Fehr insist that Donny will hang around as long as the union checks don't bounce.

* The only John Tortorella scoop I have today is that The Torts Man is liable to get fat on his favorite Philly Cheesesteaks.

* There are players who you just have to feel sorry for and -- if you don't mind -- I feel for Ryan Ellis and his spine woes.

* It Had To Happen Department: In Detroit, some beat writer gave new coach Derek Lalonde the nickname, "Newsy."

* The difference is that the real Newsy Lalonde is in the Hall of Fame.

* The new Newsy Lalonde was last seen strolling in the main hall of Little Caesars Arena.

* Something tells me -- from his latest interview with Pierre LeBrun -- that Barry Trotz will wind up as an assistant g.m. in Nashville, not a head coach anymore.

* Just wondering if you get so un-excited over stories about MacKinnon soon to get more dough than McDavid. Or Matthews being worth more than The State of Arizona.

* Smart Move Department: Petr Mrazek taking physiotherapy over the summer.

* Smarter Move Department: Pete: Drop the Butterfly. Try Stand-up.

* Around this time of year, some team realizes it could use a true character forward named Brian Boyle.

* A National Post story has many NHL players liking the Coyotes compact Mullett Arena before they've even played in it. Is that objectivity, subjectivity or no-jectivity?

THIS IS WORTH ROOTING FOR

1. TRAVIS HAMONIC succeeding as Jake Sanderson's mentor in Ottawa.

2. DAVID QUINN proving in San Jose the value of a tune, "Love Is Lovelier

The Second Time Around."

3. JOHNNY BOYCHUK doing good stuff in his new gig as Isles asst. coach.

4. KEVIN CHEVELDAYOFF'S words ring true: "We're a playoff team!"

5. STEVEN STAMKOS getting one more shot at The Cup. 

TERRIFIC TWINS IN US HOCKEY HALL OF FAME

Grand Forks, North Dakota can flash a collective smile of pride for its two sensational new US Hall of Famers. The twins Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson and Monique Lamoureux-Morando recently were simultaneously inducted into the Shrine.

Jocelyne helped Uncle Sam's sextets to unprecedented success over her 14 years with the U.S. Women's National Team. She also was an extraordinary collegiate player at the University of Minnesota and the U of North Dakota.

Monique helped the U.S. to a Gold Medal at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, scoring a critical game-tying goal in the later stages of the third period of the Gold Medal game against Canada. Her sister scored the unique and decisive Shootout goal.

ANSWER TO WHO SAID IT? 

Veteran Hall of Fame defenseman Brad Park after seeing some of the younger players in the 1985 Stanley Cup Final.

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