The US Hockey Hall of Fame’s Class of 2021 has been announced by USA Hockey and it will see hockey writer/historian/journalist Stan Fischler, former NHLer and broadcaster Peter McNab join former Philadelphia Flyer and Minnesota North Star Paul Holmgren in accepting this prestigious honor.
McNab and Fischler obviously have Devils connections so we will discuss them.
McNab played in the NHL for 14 seasons with the Sabres, Bruins, Canucks and finally finishing up with New Jersey in 1987.
Over his career, which began with him being chosen by Buffalo in the sixth round (85th overall) of the 1972 NHL Amateur Draft, he scored 363 goals and 450 assists totaling 813 points over his 955 regular season games. He added 40 goals and 42 assists for 82 points in the playoffs, where he competed 107 times.
His best year was 1976-77 with Boston when he notched 86 points (38 goals and 48 assists) over 80 games. He was named to the Wales Conference All-Star team that year.
He also potted 40 or more goals twice in his career: 41 in 1977-78 and 40 in 1979-80. The article on NHL.com by William Douglas also notes that McNab netted “70 or more points in seven consecutive seasons (1976-83).”
McNab played college hockey at the University of Denver (1970-73) where he accumulated 170 points with 78 goals and 92 assists. He represented the United States in the 1986 IIHF World Championship according to Douglas.
After retirement, McNab went into broadcasting, first with the Devils for Sportschannel, where he worked from 1987-88 up through the first Stanley Cup season of 1994-95. Following that, he followed the Quebec Nordiques west to Denver where he has worked as a color analyst for the Colorado Avalanche since their inaugural season – just completing 25 years in the booth with the Avs.
Douglas also notes that McNab was a broadcaster for the 1998, 2002 and 2006 Winter Olympic tournaments.
His father was former longtime Colorado Rockies/New Jersey Devils executive Max McNab.
The other inductee with a strong Devils connection is “the Maven,” Stan Fischler.
Douglas recounts how Fischler became a hockey fan when his father took him to see the Rangers at old Madison Square Garden II on November 10, 1942. (He omits the fact that young Stan had actually wanted to attend a sold-out movie that his father could not get tickets to. The Rangers were second choice – a way for the elder Fischler to dry Stan’s tears. This is the story that Stan tells in talks he does anyway.)
Fischler attended Brooklyn College and, following graduation, worked for the Rangers as a publicist from 1954 onto his movement to writing newspaper articles.
Douglas notes that he worked for such papers as the Brooklyn Eagle, the New York Journal-American, and later was published in the New York Times, The Sporting News and The Hockey News. He was the New York bureau chief from 1966 to 1977 for the Toronto Star.
Stan began his broadcasting career in 1973 for the New England Whalers of the World Hockey Association, of all teams. He was a contributing rink-side reporter for the Whalers on local television.
In 1975, Douglas notes that “he joined what’s now known as MSG/MSG+.” Over the next five decades, Stan would cover the Rangers, Islanders and Devils for the network – he retired after the 2017-18 season.
Fischler has won “numerous Emmy awards from the New York chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences” over his broadcasting career. He also received the Lester Patrick Trophy in 2007. This award goes to someone who has displayed “outstanding service to hockey in the United States.”
What he is most known for to hockey fans outside of the New York City metropolitan area are probably the over 100 books he has written on the sport.
As Douglas rattled off some of the book titles (The Hockey Encyclopedia, Everybody’s Hockey Book and Hockey Chronicle) you begin to realize that young hockey fans pre-Internet, probably learned more about the game from Fischler than any other source. I know that was certainly true for me.
Many of the books were written with his late wife Shirley, who is an incredible story on her own. She was a trailblazer who broke down barriers for women. Her breakthroughs did not just get women into the door as hockey journalists. They helped female sportswriters and reporters in all sports.
Today, at age 89, Stan is still very much active. He writes for the Devils and Islanders websites as well as for NHL.com according to Douglas. He still publishes “The Fischler Report,” as he has done for the past 29 years. This is a newsletter where he writes about the NHL in particular as well as the hockey world at large.
Douglas also mentions that Fischler has mentored “several generations of young people in sports and sports media.”
Congratulations to Stan Fischler, Paul Holmgren and Peter McNab on this fantastic honor. They will be enshrined in the Hall in December along with the Class of 2020, who had their ceremony postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.