NEW YORK, NY – This past week there were some pretty unusual circumstances for one particular New York hockey team – happenstance that made hated cross town rivals drunk with delight. Most of MTM fans probably didn’t notice the Islanders improbable home-and-away sweep of the Pittsburgh Penguins, beating the Crosbies 5-3 in both contests– and marking up Sid’s face in the process. The Rangers became the beneficiary of the Islanders wins as the Penguins chances of catching the Blueshirts for the division lead and the #1 seed in the conference blew up in their hands. Leave it to the Islanders to help the Rangers and, in the process, decrease the probability of winning the grand prize in this summer’s NHL lottery. I thought the sun even shines on a dog’s ass sometimes, but maybe not. The Isles even made the Boston Bruins sweat for two and a half periods before the Champs pulled away late for a 6-3 victory. With better-than-average young offensive talent, there just might be hope for the second-class Islanders next year. Now if only the organ-I-zation can rid it self of the worst contract in sports history, perennially injured goalie Rick DiPietro’s 15 year-$67.5 million deal, they might be on to something.
While watching yesterday’s Bruins-Islanders pre-game show, a celebration of Stan Fischler included an 80th birthday cake with candle numbers “8” and “0” – aptly the last decade which the team was relevant – and thankfully not eighty single candles to jeopardize fire safety on the set. The Maven, as I figured, had little problem blowing the candles out. You see, there was a time long ago when cable television’s SportsChannel handled NY Mets and Islanders games. Rolly-pollie, Jiggs McDonald along with monotone and monochrome Eddie Westfall called the action in the booth while Fischler worked the pre- and post-game duties. All three were splendid in their work and even better at bl@wing the Isles in the same breath. It was nauseating beyond belief and made it very easy to root for the Rangers in The Battle of NY.
The production has come a long way since then, as Fischler was buried in the bowels of the present day pit named and built for our boys of the Revolutionary war— Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. It looked like his between periods interviews occurred while sitting on porcelain in the bathroom stalls of the team locker room, and I viewed him as a hockey blowhard. Maybe I’m mellowing with age – or out of respect for his – but I now find Stan more than worth a listen. The Maven knows his stuff, as he was eight-years-old when the Grand Canyon was just a creek and the Rangers won the Stanley Cup in 1940. There’s been a lot of hockey played since then and the man has seen it all. There’s a lot of hockey ahead but I do however believe even Fischler beats the Islanders… to the hockey graveyard.
MTM Monday maven, West Coast Craig, tomorrow.