It is truly the end of an era for New York Metro area hockey fans. Stan Fischler, known as “The Maven” in his over 60 years of covering New York hockey, has announced his retirement from MSG Networks at the end of the 2017-18 season.
Fischler spent 40 years working in TV alone, starting out for the Islanders on what was then SportsChannel in the 1970s. He was a workhorse who covered both the Isles and Devils on TV for SportsChannel, then Fox Sports New York and finally MSG+.
But his roots go back farther than that. He began covering the Rangers after graduating from Brooklyn College in 1954 according to his farewell article on msgnetworks.com. That was at the Madison Square Garden prior to the current one – the “old” one if you will.
Fischler’s career began when newspapers were the only game in town. He now has a Twitter account. Try to wrap your head around that one. If that is not enough for you, try this one: he started out in the heart of the Original Six era. There is now NHL hockey in Las Vegas!
And his hockey fandom goes back further than that. He grew up a Ranger fan, but can tell you stories about the New York/Brooklyn Americans. And this is not stuff he read in a history book. This is firsthand knowledge that came from a lifetime of being a fan.
Stan has spent the last season going back to his TV roots. He has been appearing on Islander home games exclusively. But up until last season, he was still working the occasional Devils game. The Islander home games are a return to roots in more ways than one for the Brooklyn native.
He will certainly be missed, but his retirement is a well-deserved one. The main reason he is retiring is because he wants to be able to enjoy time with his family while he is still healthy. He is 85 years old and has two sons, Ben (who is in Oregon) and Simon (who lives in Israel) and five grandchildren. That is a lot of distance to cover for his family and he has definitely earned the right to spend as much time with them as he wants to. Good luck to him and his family as he sets off on another chapter in his life.
On a personal note, I will forever be indebted to The Maven for my hockey fandom. I enjoyed hockey as younger kid but was not passionate about it. Then, on Christmas morning 1992, I received a copy of The Great Book of Hockey, a large coffee table-style book that chronicled the history of the sport season-by-season from the turn of the 20th century to the 1991-92 season. I don’t know why, but that book sparked my love for the game like nothing else before. I devoured it.
It was written by Stan and Shirley Fischler – a husband-and-wife team with an unparralled knowledge of hockey history. Shirley Fischler passed away a few years back, but Stan remained there on TV (especially around the trade deadline when he would give his rumors about who was moving where). He also continued to author books, I believe over 90 of them to date.
(On a side note, I reccomend any Devils fan to pick up a copy of his book Pain and Progress: the First 12 Years of New Jersey Devils Hockey. It is a fantastic – and rare – retelling of the Devils’ early years and can be had on Amazon for fairly cheap.)
I also got the chance to hear Stan speak in person a few times at the Spring Lake (New Jersey) Library. He is as engaging “in real life” as he is on TV, making wisecracks and sharing his vast wealth of stories about hockey history – much of which The Maven actually lived through himself.
As Stan gets ready for retirement, it is amazing to think about how much he actually meant to the New York hockey landscape. He spanned newspapers, radio, television and the Internet. As he gets ready to retire from the sport he loves so much, those of us who had the pleasure to read, listen to or watch The Maven for these past 64 years can only say one thing: thank you.