I will never forget the first time I met Stan Fischler. The details are ingrained in my mind, from the dress I was wearing to the genuine way his eyes smile just as much as his mouth.
It was just about two years ago that the world of sports brought us together for the first time. I was about halfway through my interview with MSG Networks and was a nervous wreck.
After the big bosses had explained the job responsibilities, they asked me why I wanted this position. Part of my answer included the opportunity to work with Stan Fischler. I don’t think there is a hockey journalist in the United States or Canada who doesn’t know about “The Maven.” Still young in my career, I was eager to work with and learn more about the sport from one of the best.
Little did I know, Stan was in the office right next to where I was interviewing. Within moments, we were standing face-to-face and shaking hands. He told me a joke, which made me laugh and feel comfortable. I could not stop smiling the rest of the interview.
Fast forward two seasons later, and Stan is still making me smile and laugh. We’ve had so much fun covering the Islanders together, but here are just some of my favorite Maven Moments:
1. What is a knish?
Early on last season, Stan was doing a Fischler’s Four-Checks segment. I think the point he wanted to get across was that the Nashville Predators were going to be a front-runner all season and he brought in a toy dinosaur (to represent the Preds). Somehow, the dinosaur was going to eat a knish.
I admitted on live TV that I didn’t know what a knish was. I have learned a lot from Stan, not just about hockey, but also about Jewish culture, including Yiddish phrases and fantastic food! My face pretty much says it all in this picture.
2. What’s in a beard?
Hockey players are very particular about their beards. One of the most notable players in the league, when it comes to having wild facial hair, is Brent Burns, a defenseman for the San Jose Sharks. In Stan’s segments Yays and Boos, he gives his unfiltered take on current events he likes and doesn’t like around the league.
During the 2014-15 season, Stan gave Burns his “yay” for hosting Burnzie’s Buzzcut for Charity. At the event, Burns and some of his teammates shaved their heads and beards for charity. Stan then let me snip a little off his beard on television. He’s such a good sport.
Stan is very passionate about his home borough of Brooklyn, NY. Until the Islanders moved to Barclays Center, I really didn’t spend very much time in Brooklyn. Much like the fans at home, I have learned a ton through Stan’s Brooklyn Beats. I can’t wait to watch each time a new story airs. If you throw in some delicious food, I’m even more excited!
Stan’s Brooklyn Beat segment on Junior’s cheesecake was capped off by dessert on the set!
4. Back to the Future
Sometimes, some of the funniest stuff doesn’t always make it on television. One time we tried to do something for a story about getting from the Coliseum to Barclays Center on the train. Ultimately, the planned beginning of the story didn’t make the cut. It was a little out there and confusing, but we had a great time shooting it.
The idea was for Stan and I to perform a spoof of the movie “Back to the Future.” He was dressed as Dr. Emmett Brown, from head-to-toe. In the skit, I wanted to go back to the Cup era to watch the Isles win it all in 1983. However, the time machine was broken and we ended up at the Coliseum in 2016, when the Isles had already moved to Brooklyn.
To get the opening shot the producer wanted, Stan had to drive the DeLorean toward the camera (yes, we even had a DeLorean!). Stan and I stalled out the first time, but we eventually cruised through the Coliseum parking lot and straight at the camera. We landed on our mark and jumped out hollering, just like in the movie. We laughed so hard the entire afternoon our stomachs hurt for hours.
I think it’s important to note that some of the best times with Stan are when the cameras aren’t rolling. We have so much fun just sitting around after pregame meetings talking about hockey and joking about life. I can’t thank Stan enough for his support and guidance. His willingness to share his knowledge and passion for the game is something I not only appreciate, but truly admire.
A video tribute to Stan will air Tuesday during the Islanders-Hurricanes telecast on MSG+ to help celebrate “40 Years of Fischler.” A few games ago, each of his broadcast partners taped something for the piece. My part might be short because I burst into tears midway through the segment. I’m emotional now just thinking about it!
Stan has been more than a co-worker to me. He’s like a grandfather. I feel so blessed to have him in my life and I’m looking forward to many more years of friendship and hockey together.