I have been writing about the Buffalo Sabres now for about five years. I wouldn’t consider myself a great writer – just a passionate fan with the best soap box in the world to write about my favorite sport. There are days when writing about the Buffalo Sabres feels like work – and other days that it just seems like fun. Today is one of those fun days.
I started reading a book last night – and with my vivid imagination, and the way he describes the stories – it wasn’t hard for me to picture being in the arenas and watching these events first hand. Trust me when I tell you my over active imagination when it comes to reading isn’t always a good thing – Stephen King scares the hell out of me (although I keep reading because it’s awesome) – so having Mr. Stan Fischler escort me through the annals of NHL history in Behind The Net: 101 Incredible Hockey Stories was a phenomenal journey.
I had the pleasure to chat with one of the greatest minds in hockey media – Stan Fischler about his new book, Behind The Net: 101 Incredible Hockey Stories. There is a lot of hockey in the mind of Stan Fischler – and I highly recommend you pick up a copy of his book, read it and share it with a friend. I didn’t think it was fair not to share some of my interview with Stan with you – so here it is, a little about his book, and a lot from Stan Fischler himself.
My first question was about the timing of the release of his book – he has been watching hockey since 1939 – and I guarantee you it didn’t take that long to get to 101 Incredible stories.
Stan Fischler: My infatuation with hockey has never diminished, in fact it has probably only increased with the addition of new teams, new players, and new stories. I have been obsessed with the game of hockey since watching my first game as the old MSG in 1939.
So it wasn’t necessarily a must publish right now – but the culmination of a life long love affair with a game that started in a kid at just seven years old. If I could take away one thing from my conversation with the Hockey Maven – his passion is still very much alive for the game. Despite publishing over 90 books on hockey and other various topics – I could tell in his voice that he gets excited sharing his knowledge of the game.
The byline of the book notes that these are 101 incredible hockey stories. So I had to ask – are they 101 of the best hockey stories?
SF: They are the best stories of my choice. In each case, every story there is something to be infatuated about. I started writing and covering hockey in 1954. I have a personal interest in each of these stories.
I didn’t get the chance to ask the Hockey Maven why the average, long-time or contemporary fan would want to read a book on his favorite and most memorable stories – but he told me why everyone should read a book that gives us insight into the history of hockey in North America.
SF: They are terrific stores that actually happened. Being present for the events in the stories makes them special – and most contemporary fans never get to realize that these events actually happen.
I am absolutely amazed when I hear stories about “old school” hockey stories. One of my fondest memories of a hockey story was learning that people mistook the Stanley Cup for an ashtray when it was in King Clancy’s office the summer of 1927 – when he used it as an ashtray for his cigars. That homage was recreated when the Detroit Red Wings forgot the Cup on the beach in 2008.
Stories are what build the history of any sport – and the NHL is no different. Is it important that fans embrace books like Behind The Net and learn some of the history behind the game?
SF: Contemporary fans (and to some extent long time fans) in the United States are deprived of the history of the game. Print and television media sources have relegated hockey stories below that of football and baseball. That relegation doesn’t allow for the time necessary for stories to be told.
Stan Fischler feels it is his duty to pass on those stories, and he loves the response that he gets from fans and non fans alike when he shares a little bit about the sport that he is so passionate about.
It wasn’t all just fun and chit chat about what Stan Fischler fondly remembers about watching hockey over the last 70 years and counting. I had to slip in a question about the direction of the current NHL.
Some of your stories highlight some of the greatest and bloodiest melee’s that have occured throughout hockey. Do you think the NHL is right in changing their stance on fighting in the game?
SF: The fighting in the book is fighting – all fights in the 30’s, 40’s and fifties – and probably even in the sixties up until expansion was fighting for a reason. My only gripe with fighting, and I have expressed this to Gary Bettman in person – is with staged fights. Guys that play five to six minutes a night that go out there and get into a fight just to prove their existence or worth – the game doesn’t need that. Now the fights that occur because someone gave a guy an elbow – I have no issue with those types of fights – and they still exist in the NHL today.
Behind the Net doesn’t give you all the answers – hell, as much as Stan Fischler knows about hockey it probably doesn’t even scratch the surface if you only count the games he has seen. But you know what it will do. It will give you an insider’s look at some of the greatest moments of the game. It will give you insight that will probably never be written down anywhere else. Behind the Net is more than just a book, it is a hockey time capsule – a glimpse into a game that will hopefully continue to be played at rinks around the world. As long as their is a Stanley Cup – there will be men that will want to sacrifice so much to win it. And as long as Stan Fischler is around, he will tell you all about it.
Did you know that the second longest game in NHL history almost decided the Stanley Cup by the flip of a coin? How about the Detroit Red Wings player that couldn’t hit the ocean with a puck if he was standing on the pier? Mickey Mouse on Long Island, a one-eyed referee, three goals in 21 seconds, a horse bet that turned Toronto good – the list goes on and on.
Storytelling is important – so get a copy of this book, curl up in a great spot, and dive into some of the best hockey stories to grace the written page.