Book Review: Saving Face

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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.

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Book Review: One Night Only

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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.

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Making of “Youngblood” article on THN

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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

Interview: “Odd Man Rush” author Bill Keenan

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Hockey player-turned-author Bill Keenan [Photo credit: Reimund Schuster]

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”

Book Review: The Wayne Gretzky Collector’s Handbook

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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.

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Book Review: Odd Man Rush

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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.

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Movie Review: The Wrath of Grapes: The Don Cherry Story II

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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.

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Movie Review: Keep Your Head Up, Kid: The Don Cherry Story

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Last night, I spent three hours binge-watching Keep Your Head Up, Kid: The Don Cherry Story. The plan was to watch half of the miniseries one night before bed, and the other part the next night, but it was so much fun that my girlfriend and I decided to watch it in one sitting — bedtimes be dammed!

The made-for-TV miniseries, which originally aired on CBC in 2010, is about everyone’s favorite — or sometimes least favorite — hockey commentator Don Cherry. The two-part biopic chronicles “Grapes” long minor-league hockey career then gets into his coaching career and eventual tenure on Hockey Night in Canada. It was written by his son, Tim Cherry.

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Book Review: From Triumph to Tragedy in the NHL

From Triumph to Tragedy in the NHL

Athletes are immortal to us. They are bigger, faster and stronger. They accomplish amazing feats of physicality that we can only dream of. So when an athlete passes away during the midst of their career, it usually comes as a shock. How could this person die? They’re so much better, at least on the surface, than everyone else? “From Triumph to Tragedy in the NHL” is a book by first-time author Brad J. Lombardo that profiles six NHL players who died during their careers: Bill Masterton, Terry Sawchuk, Tim Horton, Pelle Lindbergh, John Kordic and Steve Chiasson.

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“Sudden Death” history article for The Hockey News

Twitter_Sudden_DeathHello Puck Junk readers. Sorry that I have not posted too much to this site lately. Truth be told, I’ve been doing some more writing for The Hockey News, and they just published what very well be my magnum opus: The Making of Sudden Death: An Oral History.

For those who don’t know — or vaguely remember — “Sudden Death” was an action film released in 1995, starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. The film took place at the old Pittsburgh Civic Arena, and was set during Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Chicago Blackhawks.

“Sudden Death” featured a lot of Penguins personalities, such as Luc Robitaille, Jay Caufield, Mike Lange and Paul Steigerwald, and I spoke with many of them. I also talked with the director, writer and producer. You can read the article online here. Please take a look and let me know what you think.