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Book Review: “Behind the Net: 101 Incredible Hockey Stories” by Stan Fischler

December 19, 2013 Leave a comment

If you’re looking for a great gift or stocking stuffer for a hockey fan on your Christmas list, or just a great collection of hockey stories for yourself, look no further than Stan Fischler’s latest book, Behind the Net: 101 Incredible Hockey Stories.

BTNFischler, an Islanders, Rangers and Devils correspondent for MSG and veteran author of over 90 books, writes a wide spectrum of hockey stories in BTN – everything from the Toronto Maple Leafs’ 2013 playoff collapse against the Boston Bruins, to puck tales that predate the NHL. There’s a story about how a game that went deep into overtime in the 1930’s was almost decided by coin toss – a crazy notion when you consider the discussion of the shootout and other game ending approaches these days. Today’s debate about preventing and managing concussions make the game’s stewards in the 1940’s look like primitive cave people – it sounds like it was commonplace for fights to spill into the stands and involve spectators, and sticks were regularly cracked over helmetless players’ heads. It makes for interesting commentary on where the game has evolved from when you read that teams used to only cost $75,000 and gunshots used to signal period ends, seasons used to last around 20 games, and the Art Ross Trophy winner would net 70 points in that short span.

As today’s hockey fans are aware, the NHLPA and NHL don’t always get along, but those of us affected by their disagreements may take solace in learning that the NHLPA has been a thorn in the side of NHL ownership since the 50’s. And as we are all reminded by Gary Bettman’s annual awarding of the Stanley Cup always being met by a deafening rebuttal of boos from fans in attendance, the NHL commissioner has not always been a fan favorite either. When Clarence Campbell was at the league’s helm, he had everything from insults, tear gas, and items from the produce section whipped at him by fans who did not agree with his suspension of Maurice Richard. Can you imagine Bettman having to make public appearances in riot gear?

Hockey players have always been known for their toughness, resilience, and overwhelming desire to keep playing the game. One of the best examples of this is included in the book. It depicts the story of Bill Chadwick, who lost sight in one eye from an injury but kept playing. He later injured his other eye too, and was forced to end his playing days. But he stayed in the game, becoming a referee, and then an announcer. Do you think they were having the visor discussion even then? The book also digs up interesting tidbits on player oddities, like how Jaromir Jagr runs the stairs of every arena he plays in, and how Gordie Howe was ambidextrous and gave goalies he faced double the grief in trying to stop him.

Fischler’s book gives us glimpses into the days when the NHL competed for fans and players with rival leagues like the WHA and the lesser known Eastern League. He tells us stories of when players were bought with, and arenas were built on, horse race winnings. It unveils stories of “Big” Bill Dwyer, a bootlegger in the 1920’s, who owned the New York Americans; and local rival New York Rangers coach Lester Patrick, who okayed the team publicist’s suggestion to modify to players names to Jewish and Italian last names to attract fans of those local minorities to Rangers games, and away from Americans games.

And if you thought the Winnipeg Jets had a tough travel schedule when they were still competing in the Eastern Conference, things won’t seem so bad when you read about the team from the Klondike that rode dogsleds to Ottawa to challenge for the Stanley Cup in 1905, only to get shelled 23-2 and see Frank McGee score 14 goals in a game against them.

It’s an enthralling and easy read – most of the stories are only 1-3 pages long, suitable for any age or level of reader, and any completion time frame. Any fan of hockey will be a fan of this book. You can find it a print or digital copy for around $20 on Amazon, Chapters, or your local bookstore.

Here’s the Press Release:

Stan Fischler’s latest hockey classic, Behind the Net: 101 Incredible Hockey Stories (Sports Publishing, November 2013) is a collection of short, zany (but true!) tales that have taken place over more than a half century of hockey-watching. An easy read for fans of all ages with photos to accompany the anecdotes, this book offers a unique perspective into the NHL from one of today’s most prolific hockey writers. Different from the typical NHL “game” stories, this book details everything, from the hilarious to the absurd.

Fischler details the time that:

• Bill Mosienko scored three goals in 21 seconds

• Rene Fernand Gauthier accepted a challenge to shoot the puck in the ocean

• Sam LoPresti faced 83 shots on goal in one game

• And 98 more unique stories!

So lace up your skates and hit the ice with Behind the Net, a comprehensive collection sure to entertain any hockey fan, regardless of team allegiances.

About the author:

Stan Fischler is a legend of sports broadcasting. He began his career as a publicist for the New York Rangers in 1954 and has been covering hockey in the over half a century since. The winner of five Emmy Awards, Fischler has worked in every medium from print to TV to Twitter. This “Hockey Maven” currently serves as the resident hockey expert for MSG and MSG Plus. He can be seen every week on MSG Hockey Night Live. He lives in New York City.

Contact the Publisher:

Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.

307 W 36th Street, 11th Floor | New York, NY 10018

Ph:(212) 643-6816 x 226 | Fax: (212) 643-6819

skyhorsepublishing.com

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Guest Post: Tommy Thumb, Peter Pointer & Buttons

December 1, 2013 Leave a comment

Hi folks!

I was recently sent this article from my grandfather, Bill Cunning (inventor of “Panic! Crossword Challenge), and thought it was rather clever and insightful — and may even give you people some idea of where I get my knack for nonsense from. 

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. 

===================================

Tommy Thumb, Peter Pointer and Buttons

I have always believed in paying tribute to deserving people and so the following missive is dedicated to three “unsung heroes”. It’s hard to believe that they have done up and undone more than 400,000 buttons so far in my life. This does not include many other unnamed buttonings.

Have you ever threaded a needle, or even peeled an orange? If so, did you pay attention to see what natural actions were in motion during the process? Well what actually happened was that your brain told your eyes to see the problem, and then your thumb and first finger grabbed the thread and aimed it toward the eye of the needle held by the other thumb and forefinger. A similar action took place to peel the orange, sometimes with the help of your finger nails. Our brain organized the whole procedure from years of practice of threading needles or peeling oranges or buttoning. All this activity goes on and we probably do not realize it. And what about those similar actions that take place automatically when lacing shoes, scratching your skin, putting on socks, flipping a coin, testing food, zippers, light switches, using a fork at meal times, counting paper money, opening and closing Venetian blinds, playing a guitar, and so on… 101 jobs for them.

Those fingers really do not know what they will do until a problem arises. For instance, when your finger touches a hot pot it doesn’t know it’s hot until it sends a message, via some nerves, to our brain. The brain then tells the finger that “the pot is hot, take your finger off of it”. So that may be how most of our bodily actions take place.

This story is about Tommy Thumb (our thumb), Peter Pointer (our first finger), and Buttons. My education in perfecting the art of doing up and undoing buttons probably began about 80 years ago, born in Regina in wintertime when I was about four or five years old, learning to operate the buttons on my long-john combinations. In those years my pants had three buttons to close the fly (If someone noticed that a button on the fly was undone, they would say, “It’s one o’clock at the water works”). Then came shirts, sweaters and winter coats. Shirt cuffs were quite tight in those days and the buttons had to be undone to be able to get your arm into the sleeve. Thank goodness that manufacturers eventually made a looser cuff. There were usually five or six buttons to close a shirt. My sweaters were also button up as zippers were not common then. Pants braces had six buttons and overcoats either winter or rain, had four or five large buttons. It’s amazing to witness those two digits on both hands go about their business of finding a button and locating a hole to place it in. In time I became proficient in that job and could even do it with my eyes closed.

Now to the point of this article – an estimate of how many buttons I have done up and/or undone on my clothing from age 4 until age 85.

Daily Routine:

Age 4 to 14 days years total buttons total done up
combinations-winter 90 10 900 4 3,600
sweaters-winter 90 10 900 4 3,600
shirts-daily 365 10 3650 5 18,250
pajamas-daily 365 10 3650 4 14,600
overcoats-winter 150 10 1500 4 6,000
Total 46,050         

 

Age 15 to 65     
pajamas-daily           365 50 18,250 4 73,000
shirts-at home           365 50 18,250 5 91,250
shirts-business          260 50 13,000 5 65,000
sweaters-weekly          52 50 2,600 5 15,000
overcoats-winter         150 50 7,500 4 30,000
Total 274,250

                                                 

Age 66 to 85
pyjamas – daily 365 20 7,300 3 21,900
shirts-at home 365 20 7,300 5 36,500
shirts-casual 182 20 3,640 5 18,200
sweaters-casual 182 20 3,640 5 5,200
coats-winter 90 20 1,800 4 7,200
Total 89,000

 

Grand total                      
Age 4 to 14 46,050
   15 to 65 274,250
   65 to 85 89,000
Total buttoned up      409,300

Then I had to unbutton all 409,300 of those buttons!!!!

The next time you are dressing, take a moment to watch the activity as  buttons are being done up. Then give your thanks to our “unsung heroes”.

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