Legendary hockey writer Red Fisher dead at 91

Montreal scribe covered the Rocket, Beliveau, Lafleur and more on Habs beat

Former sportswriter Red Fisher arrives for the funeral of Montreal Canadiens’ hockey legend Dickie Moore at the Mountainside United Church, in Montreal, on Monday, Dec. 28, 2015. Legendary hockey writer 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 CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Former sportswriter Red Fisher arrives for the funeral of Montreal Canadiens’ hockey legend Dickie Moore at the Mountainside United Church, in Montreal, on Monday, Dec. 28, 2015. Legendary hockey writer 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 CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

MONTREAL (CP) — Legendary 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.

“For over 50 years, in his beloved Montreal, Red Fisher was unrivaled in hockey journalism — the authoritative English voice of news about the Canadiens and the National Hockey League,” NHL 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. He was a monumental presence in our world and the NHL family grieves his passing. We send condolences to his family, friends and all who were touched by him.”

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.

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.