Then came the rain, the decision, the hockey, the love at first sight.

It was 1939 and Stan Fischler was 7 years old. Her father had promised her a trip to see “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” at the Globe Theater in New York. It was a Sunday, a fact that easily escapes Fischler’s tongue even 82 years later. But it was raining by the time they got off at their metro station on the 50th and 8th and, without an umbrella, Fischler’s dad swung around.

Instead, they would go to a hockey game at Madison Square Garden, half a block away. cried Fischler.

But it was the decision that would change the course of his life, leading to his induction into the American Hockey Hall of Fame on Thursday with Paul Holmgren and Peter McNab as the Class of 2021. The Class of 2020 – Dean Blais, Tony Granato, Jenny Potter and Jerry York – will be inducted together after the 2020 ceremony is postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I remember saying after that, let’s go to a hockey game every Sunday,” Fischler said. “And I never stopped going.”

It was in this introduction to hockey that Fischler – known as “The Maven” – found a passion that would become the work of a lifetime, an ode to the game that spanned over 100 books on the subject, a career in newspapers and a career in broadcasting, culminating in the 2007 Lester Patrick Trophy for outstanding contributions to American hockey.

“The Lester Patrick was like getting my bachelor’s degree from Brooklyn College and the American Hockey Hall of Fame was like getting my master’s degree in hockey,” Fischler said. “In each case, I shook my head in disbelief. I said, ‘What am I getting rewarded for what has been my life’s work, my labor of love?’”

Fischler began his hockey career when he was hired to write about the Eastern League while at Brooklyn College, before moving to an assistant publicist position with the New York Rangers.

“All of those things added up to play hockey for the rest of my life,” said Fischler. “What could be better than that? Not only did I not have to pay to see every game, I got paid for it.”

He moved to the New York Journal-American from 1955 to 1966 and from there to freelance work, books, the New York office of the Toronto Star, which he led until 1977.

Fischler moved into the broadcast booth, despite a “recognized total disdain for the television people,” as he put it.

It quickly changed.

Starting with the Hartford Whalers, then with the Rangers, Islanders and New Jersey Devils, Fischler found a home in the pit, where he will stay for over 40 years before retiring after the 2017-18 season. .

“He was innovative, creative,” said Jiggs McDonald, a 15-season broadcast partner. “There never was ‘Oh, I don’t think we can do that.’ I never heard the man say everything was impossible on the broadcast side. “

It was a professional makeover that Fischler hadn’t planned or planned, but one which he tackled with enthusiasm, becoming a staple of the booth, especially for the Islanders, and adding his mark of humor to production meetings and events. emissions.

He continued, as always, to write.

But as much as Fischler’s impact is felt in the words he writes, it was also felt in the lives he touched, especially through his mentorship, something that makes him infinitely proud.

“I don’t think everyone recognizes how tall and generous this man has been and continues to be,” McDonald said. “And caring. Caring. Stan has time for everyone. He will take the time to talk.… He had the respect of everyone I met on the playing field.”

Its interns include luminaries such as Frank Brown, who received the Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2019 for his work with the NHL Communications Department and the New York Daily News, and Jessica Berman, now Deputy Commissioner. in the National Lacrosse League, the highest ranked female executive in a men’s sport. Berman was previously Vice President, Community Development, Culture and Growth for the NHL.

“It has showcased and helped so many people get involved in writing careers, and even broadcasting in some cases as well,” McDonald said. “He has a heart of gold. A heart bigger than his body. He’s an amazing human being.”

Brown recalls the early 1970s, when he was an intern for Fischler in his apartment, “where every inch of every room seemed filled with newspaper clippings, hockey books and hockey stuff,” as Brown has it. written in an email.

One day, Fischler handed over a piece of paper with a phone number scribbled on it.

It belonged to Gordie Howe.

“I want you to call [Howe] and get his opinion on a question of the day, ”Brown said of Fischler’s instructions. “’But Stan. I’m just a kid, I replied. “Why would Gordie Howe talk to me? “You’re a member of the media,” Stan said. “Why wouldn’t he talk to you?” “”

It was a gift that Fischler gave Brown and others, an invitation to be a part of the hockey world he cherished so much, a boost in a not always lovable profession, a push that, like the Brown said, taught him to go. .

Because why not him?

With Fischler, the impossible was possible. He supported his wife, Shirley, as she broke through barriers and became the first woman to report from the Madison Square Garden press box. He continues to write the Fischler Report now, at age 89.

“I turned 89 because of hockey,” said Fischler. “Hockey kept me going.

He did the same for hockey, helping to move it forward. Over the years, Fischler has brought the game to a wider audience and shared his love with the world.

“The game wouldn’t be here in 32 different markets if it weren’t for Stan’s role,” McDonald said. “He was a promoter… I am delighted that the American Hockey Hall of Fame saw fit to honor him in this way.


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