On Independence Day, we celebrate three birthdays: Capitals champion Joe Fisher, Racers legend Pat Stapleton and former IHL Ice player & NHL vet Michal Sykora.
Happy birthday to ...
Joe Fisher: Right wing for the Capitals over four seasons from 1939-43. He played 137 games for the Caps, with 60 goals and 83 assists. His best years came in his last two with the Caps -- a 21-goal, 39-point season in 41 games in the 1941-42 Calder Cup championship year, and a 24-goal, 61-point season the following year in 56 games. He had eight points in the championship run in 1942, and seven points in seven games the following year as the Caps advanced to the Calder Cup Final. He also played one playoff game for the Red Wings in 1943, winning the Stanley Cup. In all, he played 66 games with the Red Wings, scoring eight goals and assisting on 12. Like many players during wartime, his career was put on hold in 1943 as he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force. When he returned, he played senior hockey. A native of Medicine Hat, Alberta, he was born in 1916. He passed away in 2002 at age 85.
Pat Stapleton: One of the most beloved Racers, "Whitey" was a mainstay on the team's blueline from 1975-77, and then returned as their coach in their aborted 1978-79 season -- where he was Wayne Gretzky's first professional coach. He played 161 games for the Racers over those two seasons, with 13 goals and 85 assists. He also had 10 points in 16 playoff games. Stapleton came to the Racers after a long career in Chicago. He broke into the NHL with the Boston Bruins in 1961, but stuck with the Blackhawks starting in 1965. He played eight seasons for the Hawks, then two years for the WHA's Chicago Cougars, two for the Racers, and one final year for the Cincinnati Stingers. He played 1,007 NHL/WHA games, scoring 70 goals and assisting on 506. He also had 72 points in 93 major pro playoff games. He was the WHA's top defenseman in 1974, briefly owned the Chicago Cougars, represented Canada in both the 1972 and 1974 Summit Series against the Soviets, He is a member of the WHA Hall of Fame. He has retired to Strathroy, Ontario. Stapleton's son, Mike, also played in Indianapolis with the Indianapolis Ice. A native of Sarnia, Ont., he is 74.
Michal Sykora: Defenseman who played six games for the Ice in 1997-98. Sykora was drafted by the San Jose Sharks in the sixth round of the 1992 NHL Draft, and broke in with the Sharks in 1994-95. He was dealt to the Blackhawks in 1996-97 -- and saw his brief stint with the Ice the next year. He also played for the Tampa Bay Lightning and Philadelphia Flyers -- the last in 2000-01, before returning to his native Czech Republic to finish his career. He retired in 2005. He played 267 NHL games between 1994-2001. born in Pardubice, Czechosolovakia, he is 41.