Kukla's Korner

Kukla's Korner Hockey

When Tanking Started

from Stan Fischler of The Hockey News,

The precedent for that was set four decades ago by the Pittsburgh Penguins; or so the legend goes. Take it or leave it.

During the 1983-84 season all eyes were on an oversized center playing for Laval in the Quebec Junior League. He was regarded as a sure-thing in the manner of a Bobby Orr and Jean Beliveau of bygone years.

Both the New Jersey Devils and Pittsburgh Penguins were the teams most likely to nab Lemieux. There were media types who criticized New Jersey coach Tom McVie for coaxing his players to play to their potential. "I want my team to win," insisted Devils owner Dr. John McMullen.

McVie: "We're here to win hockey games," McVie argued. "It's the honorable thing to do."

And so they did with critical homestretch wins over Pittsburgh and Boston. When the chips were down on the Pittsburgh side, the Penguins -- shall we say -- made some questionable lineup decisions that virtually ensured that they finished three points behind New Jersey. Lemieux would not be a Devil but honor was on the side of McMullen and McVie. And, by the way, still is.

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Filed in: NHL Teams, Pittsburgh Penguins, | KK Hockey | Permalink


Kaszycki and his Krew's avatar

While I always hated how Stan - in just about every year - picked the Ranger$ to win the Stanley Cup in his pre-season articles (just to piss off Devils and Isles fans!) - I am so happy Stan is still writing.  He is 90 years old and going strong in Israel - living with his family.

Not too many people left who have first hand knowledge of how great of a player Ted Lindsay, Turk Broda and Milt Schmidt were. 

Given that he covered for many years both the Devils and Islanders - Stan was a regular at the Nassau Coliseum.  During the games - he was easy to find - in the lower bowl concourse area that led to the Rink itself and the convention space - where MSG had its position for the pre-and postgame show.  He was very approachable and we would talk to him several times during the course of a season - especially when the team was bad and the building was half empty. 

He also gave many hockey writers and broadcasters their first entree as interns to help him with his book writing and articles. 

I did not always agree with him, but he is old school and I appreciate that so much.  You can tell he loved his work.  How lucky was he - do make a career in something he was so passionate about. 

Back to the article - I totally remember the Pens tanking. 2 years prior - they took the Isles to OT in a deciding game and all of a sudden they are dregs?  New Jersey had a bad team - but I remember them trying to win that year.  It cost them.  Will be interesting to see how this year pans out.  CHI and PHILA in a race to the bottom!

Posted by Kaszycki and his Krew on 07/30/22 at 10:43 AM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

Posted by Kaszycki and his Krew on 07/30/22

There are a lot of folks here who talk about hockey in the abstract (many of them quite knowledgeably). But it’s always a pleasure to read the things you write, Kas.

For someone who came to hockey late in life (in my mid-40s), you have a wonderful ability to paint word-pictures of your personal, historical experiences. And for that, I thank you.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 07/30/22 at 06:38 PM ET

bigfrog's avatar

Pittsburgh has been a garbage dumpster since then with two big Crybaby’s over the years Captaining that team.  confused

Posted by bigfrog on 07/30/22 at 08:07 PM ET

Kaszycki and his Krew's avatar

Older than Chelly - thanks! 

I am 64 years old.  Besides Mike Kaszycki, (he was my favorite because he had long hair and was a good player!)  JP Parise made me a fan for life!  My parents rooted for the Rag$ and they could never afford tix.  I was consumed by baseball at a young age and thought hockey was ok - because I never got to go.  I went to one game in the very last year of the old Madison Square Garden (8th Avenue/50th Street) and one game at the “New” Garden (located on top of a crappy train station on West 33rd Street) prior to the Isles being formed. but it was so hard to get tix at MSG back then - they went very rarely.

But in Year 1 of the Isles, I went to a few games at the brand new Nassau Coliseum in 1972 and it was love at first sight.

In 1974 the first shoe dropped.  I was watching with my Dad (who passed in 1977) the playoffs of Rag$ v Flyers and will never forget Dave Schultz beating the snot out of a defenseless Dale Rolfe in a playoff game.  No one on the Rag$ stood in to defend Rolfe.  That made me more angry and I disavowed them…...........and on the playground at school, Rag$ fans were mocking the Isles who were an expansion team - and that made me defend them.  Just because my memory of an event might not be accurate, I just looked at the fight video on YouTube and my memory was accurate.

1975 - JP Parise at 11 seconds of OT - sold forever on the Isles!

I heard about Kukla’s Korner from some of my friends who were Red Wings fans.  I forget what year, but I always enjoyed the discussion of the Wings, who are one of the several teams I read about regularly - and it was at the time when Paul would post Coaches Corner on Saturday nights, and I would get home from the Coliseum on a Saturday and watch it via Kukla’s Korner, and I always admired how the readers here talked about NHL matters in general.  Went from lurking to writing more in the past year or two.  I enjoyed Don Cherry and for a long time we could not get Cherry on TV in NY and could see it on Kukla’s Korner.

I enjoy reading about the Red Wings, and I have probably seen them play 20 times or so in person, including one game @ Columbus and one game at the Joe.  I invented a business trip to DET so I could go see the Isles play at Detroit in the last year of the Joe.  Just to say I saw a game there!    Thanks for the kind words!  Just wanted to share how I found out about the Korner and how I became a hockey fan.

Posted by Kaszycki and his Krew on 07/30/22 at 08:39 PM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

I enjoy reading about the Red Wings, and I have probably seen them play 20 times or so in person

Well, Kas, that’s 20 times more than I’ve seen them.  grin

Growing up in a rural area west of Grand Rapids, hockey wasn’t something that anyone did or even talked about. It wasn’t until PASS was added to the cable package I was getting at the time that I even watched a hockey game on TV. Once I did, I was hooked.

And then I found Kukla’s Korner by following a link on the old Detroit News blog/forum (which was a cesspool of idiots). I fell even more in love with the Wings through all of the stories that Paul posted and the writings/musings of the Master Chief. That was 15 years ago and coming here is one of the first things I do every day.

I’m really glad you’ve decided to hang around and share both your Red Wings and non-Red Wings experiences. Through you, the Isles have become my second-favorite team. Someday I hope our two teams get a chance to meet in the Conference Final (where we will crush you like the cockroches you are).  LOL

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 08/01/22 at 12:37 PM ET

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About Kukla's Korner Hockey

Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

Email Paul anytime at pk@kuklaskorner.com


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