If you’re a hockey fan, you know who Stan Fischler is.
Fischler, America’s foremost hockey historian, is an award-winning journalist and broadcaster whose career in hockey coverage spans eight decades and continues to this day. At age 89, Fischler shows no signs of slowing down.
In recognition of his many contributions to the game, Fischler will be inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame on Dec. 9 as part of the class of 2021.
Devoted to hockey since his youth, the Brooklyn, New York, native served as a publicist for the New York Rangers right out of college in 1954 before rising to writing jobs with the Brooklyn Eagle and later the New York Journal-American from 1955 through 1966.
Fischler turned to broadcasting in 1973, contributing rink-side analysis on games of the World Hockey Association’s New England Whalers. Two years later, he joined what is today known as MSG/MSG+ — a relationship that lasted more than 40 years — and covered the three NHL teams in the New York City metropolitan area, including the New York Rangers, New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils.
His in-game reports and post-game interviews were key elements of the broadcasts. Fischler had an ice-level vantage point for the area's eight modern-era Stanley Cup champions, beginning with the Islanders’ four-peat performance from 1980-83, continuing with the Rangers’ title in 1994 and following with the Devils’ triumphs in 1995, 2000 and 2003. His television work received a number of Emmy awards from the New York chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Fischler retired from broadcasting following the 2017-18 season.
Fischler is the author or co-author of some 100 books on hockey, including The Hockey Encyclopedia, Everybody's Hockey Book, and Hockey Chronicle. He has written for many notable publications, including the New York Times, The Sporting News, Sports Illustrated and The Hockey News. His prose earned a spot in the book Best American Sports Writing of the Century in 1999, and he received the prestigious Lester Patrick Trophy in 2007 for outstanding contributions to American hockey.
Fischler continues today to publish The Fischler Report, which has been in circulation for more than 30 years and covers wide-ranging topics related to the NHL and hockey in general. Additionally, he currently writes weekly columns for NHL.com, the New York Islanders and the New Jersey Devils. He has also served as a mentor to numerous interns who have gone on to successful careers in sports media, sports management, public relations and beyond.
Fischler was kind enough to take time for a Q&A with USAHockey.com during the week of his Hall of Fame induction.
USAHockey.com: What was your reaction when you learned you were announced as part of the Class of 2021?
Stan Fischler: I was stunned to the core. Had no tips, no hints at all. Came right out of the blue. Amazed and still a bit astonished.
USAH: How did you get into hockey?
SF: I got into hockey when my dad took me to an [Amateur Hockey Association of the United States] game at [Madison Square Garden] in 1939. New York Rovers vs. Washington Eagles. I liked it so much he took me to games almost every Sunday thereafter. For my 10th birthday, my parents got me a scrapbook and a little radio, and I began listening to the Rangers on radio as well as Foster Hewitt on Hockey Night in Canada. My interest soared from there.
USAH: What made you get into journalism and broadcasting?
SF: My mother had a knack for writing, and I picked it up naturally from her. I started writing little essays on anything in elementary school and began writing hockey stories in my lineup program after every game. After graduating from Brooklyn College, I went to work for the Rangers in publicity and a year later got on to a daily New York paper, the Journal-American. Wound up covering the Rangers and other sports. In 1973, I began doing WHA for the Whalers and in 1975 graduated to Islanders TV. Did Isles, Rangers and Devils TV for MSG Networks until three years ago, when I retired. But not from writing.
I'm now doing three stories a week for The Hockey News. Also NHL.com, Islanders and Devils websites.
USAH: Who have been some of the biggest influences on your career?
SF: My writing influences were Jim Coleman, Toronto Globe and Mail. Same paper, Jim Vipond and Rex MacLeod. TV or radio, Marty Glickman, Bert Lee, Foster Hewitt, Danny Gallivan, Doc Emrick, John Davidson, Kenny Albert.
USAH: What inspired The Fischler Report?
SF: The Fischler Report was inspired by former NHL chairman of the Board of Governors Bruce McNall, as well as Lou Lamoriello, Howard Baldwin, Gary Bettman, Bill Daly, among others. My late wife, Shirley, was a key contributor and inspiration. In time many NHL owners, PR people, et.al., subscribed, and now TFR has been turned into the three Hockey News weekly pieces I do.
USAH: What advice would you give to your younger self?
SF: My writing advice is to read as much as possible and study styles. For TV, talk to the best and get their feedback. Watch them, listen to them, and study their styles. In college, take as many writing courses as possible, and if there's a team, try to cover it either in print or on TV or radio.
USAH: What is your favorite thing about hockey?
SF: My favorite things about hockey are the action in every way; speed, hitting, goaltending, passion and the fact that I played and understand the nuances.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.