Tag Archives: Grant Fuhr


by desertdawg

It’s a bit ironic that the position that is arguably the most important on the team, gets the least press at the annual amateur draft.

Sure, Roberto was taken in the first round…and then later traded away when Mad Mike Milbury defied the odds and drafted another first rounder in Rick Dipietro. And Montreal took Corey Price fifth overall (even while signing Jose Theodore to a huge long-term deal). Of course, every fan knows that the old Oilers plucked future Hall of Famer Grant Fuhr from the Victoria Cougars.

But the fact remains, goaltenders have rarely been taken in the first round. Nik Khabibulin was taken 204 th over all, and Ryan Miller 138h. Guys like Curtis Joseph and Ed Balfour weren’t even drafted.

Other star players were never drafted (Geoff Courtnal comes to mind) but again, given the importance of the position, goaltenders have generally not emerged from high draft picks. Tim Burke, the San Jose scout who is one of the architects of the massively successful Sharks goaltending system, openly admits that choosing a goaltender is a bit of a crap shoot. He has said publicly that there is just so much more guess work when it comes to selecting the Gatekeeper. A goaltender on a bad team can look a lot worse than he really is, because a team that is not good defensively generally hangs the goaltender out to dry.

It is conventional wisdom that one of the reasons Quebec goalies have dominated in the pros is that they see so many more pucks in the offensively minded QHL. By the time they get to the pros, and onto defensively responsible teams, those goaltenders are ready.
One of the reasons we got Jason LaBarbera so cheaply is that he was devalued playing in the horrendous system run by the Kings. Sure they are better this year, and will be much better next year. But that doesn’t excuse a decade of dismal performances exacerbated by coaches who would not, or could not get their teams to play simple, uncomplicated defense.

So how good will LaBarbera be for us? Well, like I said, it’s a roll of the dice. We don’t know this kid’s character yet. How did he handle the adversity that he’s been through? I suspect we’ll find out a fair amount about these questions by the end of this month.

To The Game:

Well, Jordan Tootoo had to sit and watch while we ran the Preds out of their own arena last game. And Toots being the coward that he is, chooses Alex Burrows who is generally not a fighter, to tangle with. Toots drops the gloves more than Matt Cooke, but not much more. Points to Burrows for answering the call.

Two early PPs that could set the tone fail in a rather uninspired manner. Doesn’t seem to be a lot of passion tonight. We get a couple of chances with Bernier and Daniel but nothing seems to happen. And then just as the PP ends, Matty Ohlund throws a harmless one at the net and whoooops…we are up one zip.

We seem to be overly concerned with playing a road game in the first period. Not much aggression, not much forecheck. On the other hand, Nashville isn’t playing with much either. I thought that we could be in for the old barnburner after the early dust-up, but it’s like the guys on both teams have agreed to settle into a somewhat pedestrian approach.

LaBarbera is steady.

In the second period Nashville comes out with much more passion and we are back on our heels the whole period. The Preds mirror our own first goal, however, by scoring just as their PP ends. The Canucks defense gets caught running around and with Shane O’Brien caught away from the play on the far boards, Rich Peverly easily wrists one into the empty net. Can’t really fault Jason LaBarbera on that one, but his meager shut out streak with Canucks is over.

The rest of the period sees our guys settle back into the road game approach. Nashville gets lots of shots, but nothing particularly dangerous. All the rebounds are taken care of but I still sense we are a bit lucky to be tied at the end of period.

Quick note here: I think Henrik Sedin is one of the elite set-up men in the league. He can be counted on for a soft laser beam (usually to Daniel) on any given odd man rush. The problem is, the goalies know this as well. The three on two halfway through the period is the perfect example. Everyone (including Preds’ tender Pekka Rinne) knows Henrik’s going to pass. He needs to make the occasional fake dish and then wire one top shelf to shake things up.

Nashville comes out hard in the third but the Canucks answer in kind. Hordichuk gets taken down by Belak in a close encounter of the third kind. Darcy didn’t look great until I see the replay and noticed he tagged Belak with a hard right right after they dropped the mitts.

We settle back again and by the midway period I start to think about how much we need a point here…if nothing else but to welcome the new guy in net. And speaking of him, LaBarbera turns the game around with two fabulous saves just past the mid point. Does not give up on the puck…yeahhhh! Hopefully his groins are in better shape than our injured goalies because he is stretching them to the max tonight.

Kesler is laced into the boards with the kind of check that usually separates shoulders, but typically with this kid, he does not miss a shift. Like the energizer bunny, he just keeps going and going, driving the Preds nuts on most shifts.

The hard work for the boys pays off and we get a PP…but man, was it ever useless. No urgency and complete panic every time the Preds PK pressures us. But this is a strange game, the other two goals were scored just after the seven minute mark after the PP ended. And in the third, with that and change to play, big Willie throws a puck at the net and wha….? Jaffray tips it home!

We are up two to one. No power play goals in this game, but I’ve often thought the PP doesn’t end with the other guy coming out of the box. It ends when there is a face off after the teams are at even strength. Everyone is still in the mode until then.

Two great chances by Burrows and a near miss by Hansen keeps the Preds back on their heels until Edler makes a rookie (ok, sophmore mistake) and handcuffs Ohlund on a breakout pass. Matty prevents a goal by slashing/hooking the Pred forward but we are on the PK.


A bit frantic at the end, but as the seconds tick off, I realize how impressed I’ve been with Jason LaBarbera’s game. He’s a big kid with good positioning and great lateral movement. And he’s probably not used to having his rebounds cleared so quickly.
Welcome to the Canucks.

The Dawg’s Three Stars:
1) Jason LaBarbera…the Preds had great chances but the kid stoned ‘em
Shea Weber…saved a sure goal late and was a force at both ends
Ryan Kesler…doin’ the do all game.

Unsung Hero…. Mason Raymond…outskated everyone on the forecheck all night.


by Ron Spence

Last week, Puck Daddy referred to my good pal, Stan Fischler.

“Mr. Fischler, who graced my basement television on many a hockey night during my formative years in New Jersey.”

I didn’t come across Stan during my formative days, but met him a good decade ago.

I have worked for him since, and am referred to as “his man in Vancouver.”

In January, it will be seven decades since Stan saw his first hockey game.

I had asked him – eight or nine years ago – about his recollections from that contest, and his opinion on what has happened to hockey since that time (Please note that this was before the lockout and the introduction of the shootout.).

As usual, Stan’s insights provide a banquet for thought.

His face softens as he smiles and gazes into the empty seats – across the rink.

“The colours of the uniforms,” he answers, “and the goalie as a performer, wearing pads, the gloves, the big stick – that’s what I remember about my first hockey game. I was fascinated by the goaltender. And the uniform colours were distinctly different from anything in baseball, or football – and after that, the speed of the game. The whole ambiance was great….”

That was in 1939, when Stan Fischler was 7-years-old – long before he became hockey’s poet of the pond.

It was before the red line, before butterfly goalies wearing masks and slap shots emanating from curved sticks. And definitely well before a players’ association, free agency and lucrative contracts.

Stan’s first love was hockey and he started writing when he joined the Rangers’ fan club, and contributed to The Rangers’ Review. His idol was Baz O’Meara of The Montreal Star (Although Stan qualifies, “My style came from meeting other people and deciding who I liked and assimilating that into what I am.”). At Brooklyn College there was no hockey, so he became a soccer scribe, because “it was the next best thing.” Fischler’s first full-time job was as a publicity man with the New York Rangers in the mid-1950’s. Then he became a contributor to nearly every hockey publication from The Hockey News to Hockey Player.

Stan Fischler’s written 100 books or so. And he’s worked extensively in the electronic media. He now covers the Islanders’ and Devils’ games for local television, and edits his weekly The Fischler Report.

As a child, Stan had been impressed by hockey’s speed and colour.

As a young adult, he became equally impressed by the players,

“I was awed by the guys,” he says. “I found them to be a very amiable, but a different bunch because they were all Canadian … They talked differently.”

The player who “awed” him the most was Maurice “the Rocket” Richard.

“The most memorable interview I ever did was with ‘the Rocket,’ because I was doing his autobiography. So having done that and spending time intimately with the Babe Ruth of hockey, I couldn’t help but be in awe of him. But the remarkable thing about the Rocket, was as great as he had been on the ice, he was the most down to earth person, a super guy, a wonderful guy. He had a remarkable charisma, even when he didn’t have the puck. You were always aware of him on the ice. And of course, he was so dynamic as a skater. He was the most special guy I’ve ever seen … it was energy and physical strength. He overpowered people, and he had these eyes that glared. Glen Hall said that they were like search lights when he came in on the goal.”

Unlike today, hockey’s pre-sixties’ writers weren’t probing with search lights.

”There was a gambling case and in a sense that did get in the press and … into the personal lives, because two players were suspended for life: Don Gallinger and Billy Taylor. But, generally, the personal life was totally irrelevant. It didn’t matter.”

Besides, the players were different than they are today. Derek ‘the Turk’ Sanderson has said the pre-sixties players were “cookies and milk,” like Bobby Orr. They frequently spoke in clichés and wouldn’t reveal their opinions or feelings.

“There were always exceptions,” Fischler points out, “Stan Makita was one. Gump Worsly, another. There were some colourful guys. You’ve got to remember there were only six teams. There were fewer guys. You didn’t have a union. They weren’t independent. And they were really concerned about not angering management.”

This of course changed with the sixties, and the ‘me’ generation.

“The social revolution of the sixties spilled over to hockey. And even though hockey was very conservative, there were radicals in hockey. Derek Sanderson was as revolutionary to hockey, as “Boom Boom” Geoffrion inventing the slap shot, and Bobby Orr as a defenseman going end to end. What Sanderson did essentially was tell hockey players, ‘You guys can screw around and get away with it and make money out of it and get your picture in Life Magazine,’ which is what he did….”

Stan played a significant role in hockey’s social revolution. I’ve Got To Be Me, his collaboration with Sanderson, was hockey’s first three dimensional book. It narrated a player’s thoughts and probed behind the scenes – into the nitty gritty.

In addition to the social change, the player’s world was impacted by Expansion, the WHA, higher salaries and a resulting independence.

All this contributed to a change in the way the players treated the media.

“The best way to explain it was until about 1966, 1965, maybe a little bit later, if you were a journalist and wanted to interview a player, you went down into the dressing room and they were all sitting around. Or they were in the shower. Eventually, they’d come out of the shower, get dressed. Everybody was available. That didn’t mean everybody wanted to talk. But, they were all there. Now they have their separate room and they hide.”

But, some of today’s hockey writers will let them hide, but not run.

“It’s different in every city. In the areas where you have keen competition, like Toronto and New York and to a certain extent, Boston, it’s right up there with the other sports. You’ve got to get the scoop, sensationalism – the whole package is beat the other guy. It’s no different from anything else. If there’s a scandal in hockey, like the Graham James thing, it’ll be reported.”

It was the advent of the electronic media, however, that impacted hockey journalism the most.

“The whole business of journalism has changed because of the electronic vs. print. You’re standing out there and the coach is being interviewed and the electronic guys are dominating, and the print guys are staying in the back, til he’s through. There’s no way the print can compete with the electronics, because they have so little space to deal with. The space has gotten smaller. Whereas in the past, guys would be concerned about the game – now, the game is on television. Now what you read about in the paper is trade stories, gossip and criticism that you don’t get on TV.”

So, through all these changes, who’s been Stan Fischler’s best interview?

”There was a guy who wrote for Newsday in New York,” Stan answers, “and after I interviewed Milbury one night, he wrote that, ‘Mike Milbury is such a good interview, that he should be interviewed after the end of the first period, and the second period.’”

His worst interview? “Grant Fuhr, no question”

And, sixty years [remember this interview was a decade ago] after that initial mesmerizing haze of colour, speed and ambience, how does Stan Fischler see hockey?

“The way the game has changed is between the Province billboard and that logo over there,” Stan points across the GM Place ice. “There’s nothing about them that’s the same. Right? The colour, or anything. Except that they’re both on the boards. The only thing similar about hockey is that it’s still on the ice. If you weren’t there at the time to see hockey in the forties and the fifties, you can’t imagine how different it is – the sticks, the whole style.

And I believe in the end that the game today is a terrible game. A terrible spectacle in relation to what it was.”

He glances below, at the players’ benches. Curved sticks are propped against glass dividers. A multi-coloured mask rests on a bench. A PR person cajoles a superstar.

And a crouching cameraman, and a woman with a microphone, stand facing a player, who smiles a toothless grin for the 6 o’clock news.


Stan’s column may be be viewed at: http://www.msg.com/sports/

HOCKEY SALARIES: 1987 1988 1989 1990

by Ron Spence

When Bob Goodenough took over the NHLPA in February, 1990, he introduced salary disclosure. It’s something that’s taken for granted today.

How important was it?

Wayne Greztky’s father, Walter admitted to Terry Jones: “I knew Wayne was getting traded days before he did because Nelson Skalbania phoned me and asked, ‘How much does Wayne make?’

I said ‘Why?’

He said ‘Because Peter’s shopping him to the highest bidder.’

I said ‘No he’s not.’

He said ‘Yes he is.’

That was during the 1988 Stanley Cup finals – a year and a half before salary disclosure.

Of course Pocklington knew how much his star was making, as did Wayne and his father, but it wasn’t public knowledge like it is today.

Hockey Zone Plus has compiled a comprehensive database of some 2500 players who’ve played in the NHL from 1989 until the present.

Also, a hockey fan, who calls himself Ogopogo, has located copies of Sport magazine, which ceased publishing in 2000. In his issues were the: 1987, 1990, and 1991 NHL salaries.

I have included the Hockey Zone’s 1990 salaries, along with those listed by Sport.

I would note, however, that the two lists for 1990 aren’t always the same – some are calculated in American funds, some Canadian. But, I am including both, as they provide a good idea of NHL salaries at that time.

I would ask the reader to also note, that the years from 1987 until 1990, was the time in which Offer Sheets were first being presented.

SPORT – June, 1987

1. Wayne Gretzky – Oilers – $950,000 CDN – (converted to $717,250 USD)
2. Marcel Dionne – Rangers – $700,000
3. Mike Bossy – Islanders – $650,000
4. Bryan Trottier – Islanders – $625,000
5. Dave Taylor – Kings – $600,000
6. Mario Lemieux – Penguins – $550,000
5. Denis Potvin – Islanders – $550,000
8. Mike Liut – Whalers – $450,000
9. Rod Langway – Capitals – $400,000
10. Barry Pederson – Canucks – $350,000

SPORT – June, 1989

1. Gretzky – Kings – $2 million
2. Lemieux – Penguins – $1.5 million
3. Trottier – Islanders – $950,000
4. Taylor – Kings – $700,000
5. Dionne – Rangers – $600,000
6. Liut – Whalers – $550,000
7. Goulet – Nordiques – $510,000
8. Messier – Oilers – $510,000
9. Savard – Blackhawks – $500,000
10. Coffey – Penguins – $485,000
11. Duguay – Kings – $475,000
12. Hawerchuk – Jets – $467,500
13. Stastny – Nordiques – $446,250
14. Carpenter – Bruins – $425,000
15. LaFontaine – Islanders – $425,000
16. Gustafsson – Capitals – $410,000
17. Stevens -Capitals – $400,000
18. Pederson – Canucks – $400,000
19. Bourque – Bruins – $380,000
20. Fuhr – Oilers – $340,000
20. Robinson – Canadiens – $340,000

SPORT – June, 1990

1. Gretzky – Kings – $2.72 milion
2. Lemieux – Penguins – $2.15 million
3. Chelios – Canadiens – $1 million
4. Trottier – Islanders – $975,000
5. Taylor – Kings – $950,000
6. Bourque – Bruins – $925,000
7. Messier – Oilers – $875,000
8. Nicholls – Rangers – $725,000
9. Yzerman – Red Wings – $700,000
10. Goulet – Nordiques/Blackhawks – $600,000
11. Carson – Oilers – $585,000
12. Robinson – Kings – 550,000
13. Savard – Blackhawks – $525,000
14. Dineen – Whalers – $510,000
15. Wilson – Blackhawks – $500,000
16. Hextall – Flyers – $500,000
17. Kerr – Flyers – $500,000
18. Coffey – Penguins – $485,000
19. Stastny – Nordiques – $480,000
20. Hawerchuk – Jets – $462,000

HOCKEY ZONE PLUS – 1989-90 (U.S. Dollars)

1. Lemieux – Penguins – $2,000,000

2. Gretzky – Kings – $1,720,000

3. Messier – Oilers – $855,271

4. Yzerman – Red Wings – $700,000

5. Trottier – Islanders – $ 575,000

6. Robinson – Kings – $550,000

7. Savard – Blackhawks – $525,000

8. Goulet – Nordiques/Blackhawks – $517,980

9. Bourque – Bruins – $500,000

10. Hextall – Flyers – $500,000

11. Wilson – Blackhawks – $500,000

12. Taylor – Kings- $500,000

13. Kerr – Flyers – $500,000

14. Chelios – Canadiens – $496,398

15. Coffey – Penguins – $450,000

16. Liut – Capitals – $445,000

17. Salming – Maple Leafs – $435,000

18. Kurri – Oilers – $431,650

19. Howe – Flyers – $425,000

20. Stastny – Nordiques – $414,384

21. MacInnis – Flames – $410,068

22. Sandstrom – Kings – $410,000

23. LaFontaine – Islanders – $400,000

24. Nicholls – Rangers – $400,000

25. Gartner – Capitals – $400,000

25. Carson – Oilers – $400,000