What Stan Fischler Has to Say

Stan Fischler from MSGNetwork makes his points in Bluelines.Stan Fischler
Bluelines: What’s “the deal” in Buffalo?
August 13, 2002


Mark Hamister, touted by many as front-runner to buy the Sabres, may not be the top banana after all. We hear that he may not have enough dough to pass muster with the NHL owners. Plus, we hear that two potential Sabres-purchasing groups are around but haven’t yet surfaced. Meanwhile another report suggests that longtime minor league hockey exec, Sherry Bassin, has significant backing and could become the new front-runner.

By the way, there’s no minimizing the concern in Buffalo about the city losing its team after 2002-2003.

Unobtrusively, and with little fuss or fanfare, Bill Daly has come on strong at Bettman, Inc. Expect the league’s legal eagle to play a HUGE part in the CBA negotiations.

By the way, Daly told Bloomberg News’ Alan Kreda safety nets may not be installed in every arena before the start of the season. “There’s a lot to do and not a lot of time to do it. We want to make sure it’s done right,” Daly told Kreda.

Meanwhile Pitt’s Mellon Arena will remain net-less because of it’s dome-shaped, stainless steel roof.

The Blueshirts are counting on Leetch (center) to hold up the defensive end against clubs like Philly. (AP)
Igor Larionov on why he’s convinced that Dave Lewis is an able successor to Scott Bowman: “Everybody on the team knows Dave well and his relationship with the veterans is excellent. Plus, he’s a student of Scotty!”

Ken Hitchcock used the pressure forecheck in Dallas, reports our Ron Spence. The Stars did well against teams that couldn’t outlet pass. But teams such as St. Louis beat them because Dallas forwards would be up ice and caught out of position with the outlet. Hitch will be using this in Philly where the forwards aren’t as quick.

Rangers figure to match up well with Philly with Brian Leetch, Tom Poti, et. al. getting the puck out of their end.

The estrangement of Pat Quinn and Curtis Joseph may never be fully known. But the Leafs boss says Cujo’s refusal to shake hands with him was not the reason the goalie left Toronto.

“I know Curtis wanted to be the goaltender of record at the Salt Lake City Olympics,” says Quinn. “But I had to make a decision for the good of the team. I basically felt that I could have talked to him more. Yet, I don’t think that was a factor in his move to Detroit. We offered him a contract that would have made him the NHL’s highest-paid goalie. But he wanted to get his name on the Cup.”

The dirtiest word you’ll ever hear in the NHL office has nine letters — collusion.

Bettman, Inc. resents its use by writers who, it believes, fail to check back with league officials on labor decisions.

Running the Russian sports program, old pal Slava Fetisov claims poor coaching is the bane of hockey in and around Moscow.

“Americans have respect for the word ‘coach,'” says Fetisov. “In Russia they earn $100 a month and have to work other jobs to survive. We must make the coaching profession prestigious again.”

Isn’t it interesting, though, that Slava never was offered an NHL head-coaching job? He would come back if it was offered.

“Imagine how great it would be, me, Minister of Sport in Russia comes back to America as coach of the New York Rangers!”

Bobby Francis on his confidence: “I’ve never been fired in my life. I’m probably putting a bull’s eye on my forehead by saying that, but I do not expect to ever get fired.” You gotta like that dude’s attitude!

Canadian chauvinism rears its head when Cup hero Brett Hull appears north of the border. Emcees ignore his Detroit playoff heroics and introduce him as playing on the American team that was “runner-up” to Canada’s champs at Salt Lake.

“Great” things are expected from Amonte in Phoenix. (AP)
Tony Amonte’s four-year pact with Phoenix is back-ended to pay him more in years three and four for a reason. That’s when the Coyotes will be rid of their obsolete America West home and be skating in their new cash-cow Glendale rink. Wayne Gretzky is targeting from 35 to 40 goals from Amonte.

The Great One’s business deals are handled out of LA by former Devils’ PR head Rick Minch, who became Wayne’s pal when he played for the Kings and Minch handled the team’s publicity.

We hear very quietly that the Lightning are up for sale. We are also told that it could be a terrific investment.

Portland’s Paul Allen’s interest in the Sabres could actually keep them in Buffalo. This could happen if the tycoon chooses to add to his TV empire by taking over the Buffalo Sports Network and integrates it with his hockey club.

Penguins watchers tell us the chances of a new arena going up in Pitt are slim to none. The economy, among many factors, is the primary problem.

Penguins planners have to start wondering about life after Mario Lemieux retires as a player. Those close to Le Magnifique say he has no long range plans for staying on as an owner. One wonders how they will fill the igloo in 2003-2004 if Lemieux packs it in. And what happens after that if Mario gives up on the ownership? But, then again, can he afford that luxury?

Bob Boughner is one reason why you can expect a work stoppage in 2004. As Double B puts it, “The league will settle for nothing less than a salary cap.”

“The players are happy with the way things are. Both sides are willing to get into a fight. There’s going to be a lockout. If the gloves do come off, we’re in it for the long run. The players have a much stronger relationship with each other than the owners have with each other.”

Some insiders are whispering that his last point may be a telling one. This line of thinking suggests that owners of the “have” teams simply will not stand for anything close to a long lockout and, at some point, they just might break ranks.

Terry O’Reilly starred at an unusual Boston fund-raiser for the Cystic Fibrosis Joey fund. Backed by broadcaster Eddie Andelman, the benefit — of which O’Reilly was co-grand marshall — featured 40,000 people eating 125,000 hot dogs and sausages at Suffolk Downs.

Possible new venues for Chris Gratton include Columbus and Anaheim

He brought up some good and interesting points, what do you think?