Remembering Red Fisher, hockey's most iconic writer
The Canadian Press
Published Friday, January 19, 2018 4:42PM EST
Last Updated Saturday, January 20, 2018 9:21PM EST
Famed Montreal hockey writer Red Fisher has died.
The Montreal Gazette, where he worked the last 33 years of his career, reported on Friday that Fisher had died at age 91.
The Montreal native covered the Canadiens through their glory years starting in 1955 until he retired at age 85 in 2012.
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 a referee 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. He was also at the 1972 Summit Series between NHL players and the Soviet national team and most other major hockey events over six decades.
“Red was my sports editor for a number of years and I was Red’s sports editor for a couple of years at The Gazette,” NHL.com columnist Dave Stubbs told CTV Montreal. “I would sit in my office in downtown Montreal with these paper-thin walls and listen to Red talking to a general manager, telling him why so-and-so was going to be a bad choice to be his general manager. I literally had to leave my office just laughing some days because it was a riot to hear Red telling a general manager all that the GM did not know about the game of hockey.”
Fisher was known for his no-nonsense approach to his job and for his personal rules, including his refusal to talk to rookies. He would sometimes walk away if a player answered his questions with cliches.
“What I remember most about Red was how thorough he was. He never missed a story. Most of the time he was ahead of the story – not only with the Montreal Canadiens, who he travelled with all the time, but he was so deeply into the league. He knew what was going on in every team,” hockey blogger Ron Reusch told CTV Montreal. “He was just an old-fashioned newspaper man who not only knew how to cover sports, but knew how to write.”
He was named to the Hockey Hall of Fame but fell out with the organization when they opted to put media members in a lesser category from hockey players and builders.
Fisher was named to the order of Canada on Dec. 29.
His wife of 69 years, Tillie, died on Jan. 9 at 90.
The Montreal Canadiens tweeted about Fisher after learning of his passing, calling him 'legendary.'
It is with great sadness that we learned of the passing of the legendary Red Fisher, who covered the Canadiens in seven separate decades from 1955 through 2012.— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) January 19, 2018
Our sincerest condolences to his family and friends. pic.twitter.com/5aKsvylH7s
At their game in Washington Friday night, both teams held a moment of silence to pay tribute to the renowned writer.
Moment de silence pour Red Fisher à Washington.— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) January 20, 2018
The Capitals pay tribute to Red Fisher with a moment of silence. pic.twitter.com/zmgiu07bfG
Canadiens owner Geoff Molson also tweeted his respects to Fisher.
Sad to learn of the passing of longtime and iconic Montreal journalist Red Fisher who covered the Canadiens for six decades, including 17 of 24 Stanley Cups. Thanks for the memories. RIP Red.— Geoff Molson (@GMolsonCHC) January 20, 2018
Sports reporters in Montreal were quick to sing his praises after news broke of Fisher's death.
Sad news. Red Fisher, the chroniquer and conscience of hockey, died today. He was 91.— Michael Farber (@MichaelFarber3) January 19, 2018
I owe so much to Red Fisher. I do what I do basically because of him. Was truly an honour that I got to at least sit in the press box at the same time as him. I'm incredibly saddened by this news. Rest in peace, Red.— Аrpon Basu (@ArponBasu) January 19, 2018
Incredibly sad news. There will never be another Red Fisher. I owe so much to the man since he was the one who first hired me at The Gazette and took a chance on a young kid and then helped teach me the sports journalism business from the ground up. A very sad day. #Habs #HabsIO https://t.co/7noFWJfNXw— Stu Cowan (@StuCowan1) January 19, 2018
No one had greater influence on hockey writers and the sport itself during his long and legendary career. A standard no one can meet but should aspire to. RIP, Mr. Fisher. https://t.co/cnPfA0L21n— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) January 19, 2018
With files from CTV Montreal