Red Fisher’s almost-100 years

Red Fisher

Red Fisher

Lost in all the hoopla of the Habs centennial is a really long piece by Red Fisher (it was spread out over three pages) about his career covering the Canadiens and all the great moments of the second half of its first century.

I point to it particularly because Fisher goes into a bit of detail in how he got started in the news business, before he even started covering the Canadiens:

A man named Hugh E. McCormick helped make the dream a reality.

I was a first-year student at Sir George Williams College, The Georgian’s one-person sports staff, when McCormick, the owner of the suburban N.D.G. Monitor, Westmount Examiner and Verdun Guardian, sent out a call for college students to report on the sports activities at their schools. A phone call to his office told him I was interested.

“You’ve got the job,” McCormick said immediately.

“How much do you pay?” he was asked.

“Nothing,” he said.

“I’ll take it,” I replied.

It goes from there to an adorable story about him writing a story about a junior football game for the Standard and having it tossed in the garbage by an editor.

But what gets me is that Fisher worked for free, and later took a significant pay cut, just so he could follow his dream of reporting on the Canadiens early in his career.

Half a century later, not much has changed. Plenty of young journalists would make a similar choice now, willing to sign their souls to the devil to get a press pass into the Canadiens dressing room.

More insight into Fisher’s career can be gleaned from this Dave Stubbs piece, first published in April 2006, when the Habs honoured his 50 seasons covering the team.

Speaking of the Canadiens centennial, Mike Boone’s weekly Eeee-mail makes note of the team’s mastery of marketing (to the point where we’re all getting sick of it). Jack Todd echoes that, noting the contrast between the Habs’ history and its present (and perhaps suggesting a link between the non-stop commemorations and the bad performance of the team).

By the way, I used to find it funny that Boone’s column, which appears opposite Red Fisher’s Red Line page every Saturday, was essentially a column about Fisher himself. Only Boone could pull off writing a column about another columnist and making it worth reading. Sadly, even Boone has reached his limit. Last week he officially retired the Living Legend of Sports Journalism schtick after 10 years.

A moment of silence for the passing of one of The Gazette’s silliest running gags.

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