Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Legendary Hockey Writer Red Fisher Dead at 91

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Legendary Hockey Writer Red Fisher Dead at 91

Article excerpt

Legendary hockey writer Red Fisher dead at 91

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MONTREAL - Legendary hockey writer Red Fisher had his idiosyncrasies.

He didn't talk to rookies because he felt they hadn't yet earned the right to talk. He never called the Montreal Canadiens the Habs because he worried the diminutive of the word habitants might be demeaning to French-Canadians.

But Fisher, who died Friday at 91, was also a larger than life character who broke major stories and covered the biggest events in hockey and occasionally other sports over six decades as a writer and sports editor at the Montreal Star and Montreal Gazette.

His first hockey assignment on March 17, 1955 turned out to be the Richard Riot, when violence that began at the Montreal Forum over the controversial suspension of Maurice (Rocket) Richard for hitting an official spilled into the streets.

He covered Canadiens teams that won five Stanley Cups in a row in the 1950s as well as dynasty teams in the 1960s and 1970s. His coverage of the 1972 Summit Series between NHL players and the Soviet national team was particularly memorable.

"Everyone respected him," said long-time hockey broadcaster Ron Reusch, who had Fisher as his analyst at Canadiens games. "He basically ran the media here.

"And it wasn't just Montreal. He had contacts all over the league. He got scoops on things going on in Chicago that their local writers didn't have. He was unbelievable."

Fisher retired at age 85 in 2012. By then he appeared to be fed up with the modern media world of tight controls on access to players and rumours floated daily on social media.

He hated rumours. In his 1994 memoire "Hockey, Heros And Me," Fisher wrote that rumours were "distasteful and often harmful."

He also wanted to spent more time with his wife Tillie, who the Gazette reported died on Jan. 9 at age 90.

"For over 50 years, in his beloved Montreal, Red Fisher was unrivalled in hockey journalism - the authoritative English voice of news about the Canadiens and the National Hockey League," commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. "Red had a remarkable passion for the sport and a remarkable compassion for the men who played it.

"Red's words were important because nobody knew the game or the players or the executives better. In addition to being a master storyteller, on a personal level, he was a friend and counsellor."

Fisher was often seen as curmudgeonly and foul-tempered, but he was also a no-nonsense reporter who broke scores of stories and seemed to know everything that was going on in Montreal and around the league. He was an insider before "insider" became a sports media job description.

One of his biggest scoops in the 1970s was getting a hold of a secret report by then-league president Clarence Campbell to the team owners and governors, which boasted that salary payouts were down and revenues up around the league. …

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