“Bleeding Blue: Giving My All for the Game” is an appropriate title for Wendel Clark’s new autobiography. Sure, there have been better goal scorers or more skilled players in the Maple Leafs’ history. But arguably, no Leaf has bled, endured, or suffered more than Clark, whose careeer was defined by his physical play and willingness to fight, and marred by constant injuries. Yet, as Clark explains, he wouldn’t change a thing.
Leonard “Red” Kelly had four careers. He spent roughly the first half of his 21 years in the NHL as a defenseman, and the latter half as a forward. Kelly also served in Canadian Parliament for two terms and later coached in the NHL for a decade.
So, it is hard to believe that it took 50 years since Kelly’s final shift — he was on the ice when the Maple Leafs won their last Stanley Cup in 1967 — for a book to be written about him. While there was a short children’s story about Kelly in the 1970s, “The Red Kelly Story” gives the eight-time All-Star the all-star treatment that he deserves.
Now 89 years old, Kelly has done more in one lifetime than most people could do in four. Continue reading “Book Review: The Red Kelly Story”
Not Available in Your Freezer Section
Back in the late 1990s, I went to an art and design school called Columbia College. It was located in Chicago’s South Loop neighborhood, the southern part of downtown. Everything was expensive; only the really rich (business men, doctors and lawyers) or the really poor (college students and homeless people) lived downtown. I was always looking for cheap forms of entertainment. One day, that cheap thrill was getting an Islanders “Fish Sticks” jersey on clearance!
A goalie mask is as functional as it is visually appealing. It offers protection and allows self-expression. Perhaps that is why the goalie mask is arguably the most iconic piece of sports equipment; it serves a purpose, but is fun to look at too.
The same can be said about “Saving Face: The Art and History of the Goalie Mask.” Like the masks it chronicles, this book is as functional as it is visually appealing. Do not mistake “Saving Face” for mere eye candy: it is the ultimate history book on the subject of goalie masks.
What is it like to say that you have played one — only one — game in the National Hockey League? Is it with a feeling of accomplishment, knowing that you have reached hockey’s highest level, albeit for just a few moments? Or is it with a sense of regret — a longing to have done better? In his new book, “One Night Only: Conversations with the NHL’s One-Game Wonders,” author Ken Reid asks what it is like to be in this exclusive, yet somewhat infamous, club.
Earlier this month, The Hockey News published an article that I worked diligently on writing: “Blood, Guts & Glory – The Making of Youngblood: An Oral History.” For those who subscribe to the magazine, it is in the current issue. However, THN also put my “Youngblood” article on their website for everyone to read.
For those who don’t know, “Youngblood” is a hockey movie that came out in 1986. The film starred Rob Lowe as an aspiring hockey player from the U.S. who joins a junior team in Hamilton, Ontario. The film co-stars Patrick Swayze (who sadly passed away in 2009) as the Mustangs’ team captain.
While Lowe, through his agent, refused to talk with me about “Youngblood,” I still spoke with many awesome sources: director and writer Peter Markle, cinematographer Mark Irwin, hockey coordinator Eric Nesterenko (a veteran of 20 NHL seasons) and former OHL player George Finn, who played the bad guy. I also interviewed a stunt double and two background hockey players, including Steve Thomas.
You can read the article at The Hockey News’ website here. ■
Bill Keenan is not yet a household name for hockey fans, but that might soon change. He played Division 1 college hockey at Harvard, but injuries limited him to just six games. After that, Keenan headed overseas to play minor league hockey in Belgium, Germany and Sweden.
He retired in 2012 and soon started writing his autobiography entitled “Odd Man Rush: A Harvard Kid’s Hockey Odyssey from Central Park to Somewhere in Sweden–with Stops Along the Way” (reviewed here). It is a fun, humorous tale of a young man trying to make a comeback in a foreign land. Others have apparently found Keenan’s tale entertaining, too. “Odd Man Rush” is currently ranked 23rd overall in the Hockey Biographies category on Amazon.com.
Keenan is back in college, studying business, and is a contributor to Stan Fischler’s newsletter, “The Fischler Report.” I recently spoke with Keenan about writing his book, the highs and lows of his career, playing against a 10-year old Sidney Crosby and why he decided to retire. And if you haven’t read “Odd Man Rush” yet, don’t worry — this interview contains no spoilers.
Sal Barry: I thoroughly enjoyed “Odd Man Rush” and did not want it to end.
Bill Keenan: That’s probably the biggest compliment I could imagine. I know that feeling, certainly not with my own book, but with some of the books that I like a lot.
SB: I didn’t know who Bill Keenan was before I got a copy of your book. Why would someone want to read “Odd Man Rush?”
BK: A couple of reasons. Whether you played hockey or not, whether you played a sport or not, I think a lot of this is about your average kid. Continue reading “Interview: “Odd Man Rush” author Bill Keenan”
No player is more collectible than Wayne Gretzky. Period. Sure, some may argue that Bobby Orr or Gordie Howe were better players. But when you consider both the sheer amount of memorabilia items made bearing his image and the droves of people who collect them, no one tops Gretzky. “The Wayne Gretzky Collector’s Handbook,” published in 2016, painstakingly documents over 7,500 items with The Great One’s likeness, including trading cards, lunch boxes, posters, magazines and so much more.
A funny thing happened while I was reading minor-league hockey player Bill Keenan’s autobiography “Odd Man Rush: A Harvard Kid’s Hockey Odyssey from Central Park to Somewhere in Sweden–with Stops Along the Way.” Originally, I did not have too much interest in reading the book, other than to write a review about it. But as I got closer to finishing it, I found myself slowing down and wishing that the book wouldn’t end. That’s sounds crazy, but “Odd Man Rush” is a fun story about a kid who dreams of playing professional hockey, even if he has to go to the ends of the earth to do it.
Apparently, I wasn’t the only person who enjoyed Keep Your Head Up, Kid: The Don Cherry Story, a television miniseries that first aired on CBC in 2010. Two years later, the Don of Hockey was the subject of a second three-hour miniseries, The Wrath of Grapes: The Don Cherry Story II — a great title for a great follow-up.