We all knows what happens to a first-round draft pick who goes on to an exceptional career in the NHL. They rack up accolades and are talked about even long after their playing days have ended. But what about the players who don’t make it? What are their careers or lives like after the shot at NHL stardom is long past? “Tales of a First-Round Nothing: My Life as an NHL Footnote,” written by Terry Ryan in 2014, is a hilarious autobiography of a highly-touted prospect who didn’t pan out. But just because Ryan only played in eight NHL games is no reason to ignore his 228-page memoir. In fact, that’s all the more reason to read it.
Each NHL coach followed his own unique path to get to where he is today. Some were accomplished NHL players who were immediately given a shot as an assistant coach upon retirement. Others were career minor leaguers, toiling in some of hockey’s most obscure ranks, before working their way up those ranks later on in life to finally appear in the NHL from behind the bench. Still, some never even played minor pro, hanging ’em up after junior and starting their coaching careers young.
For the start of the 2017-18 season, I thought it would be fun to take a look at each NHL head coach’s rookie card. Continue reading “Rookie Cards of Every NHL Head Coach for the 2017-18 Season”
Last weekend, the NHL held its annual Entry Draft in Chicago. It was considerably a weaker draft class than the previous two drafts, which were headlined by Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel in 2015, and then Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine in 2016. That isn’t to say that the 2017 draft class won’t turn out its share of NHLers; it was just not as exciting of a group.
Coincidentally, the same thing happened 25 years ago. The 1990 and 1991 drafts were deep. And the 1992 Draft? Well, it had Roman Hamrlik and Alexei Yashin. Oh — and Sergei Gonchar.
I will admit, after writing fantasy “do-overs” of the 1990 and 1991 NHL Entry Drafts, I was not really looking forward to looking back at the 1992 Draft. There were no 1,000-point or 400-goal scorers to come out of 1992. None made it to the Hockey Hall of Fame. About the only milestone any of the players drafted in 1992 achieved was that seven of them skated in 1,000 or more NHL games. Even then, the NHL expanded from 24 teams in 1992 to 30 teams in 2000, so that probably had a lot to do with it.
It is easier and more fun to agonize over who should have gone first overall in 1990 — Jaromir Jagr or Martin Brodeur — with hindsight being 20/20 and all. But looking at a bunch of average players and trying to figure out which one is slightly better than the other…well, that’s the kind of challenge scouts deal with all the time. And I’m always up for a challenge.
Thus, below is my fantasy re-imagining of the first round of the 1992 NHL Entry Draft. There may be no marquee names, but some went onto exceptional careers, while others were good enough to play a long time in the world’s best hockey league.
And, with the first-overall pick, the Tampa Bay Lighting are proud to select…
“The Code: The Unwritten Rules of Fighting and Retaliation in the NHL” is a book that I wanted to read for a long time. Recently, I found it at a used book store and snapped it up. Now, I wish I had read this book back in 2006 when it first came out. “The Code” explains the culture of fighting in hockey, including the hidden subtexts that I never knew about.
“Father Bauer and the Great Experiment: The Genesis of Canadian Olympic Hockey” chronicles the life of Catholic priest David Bauer, who forever changed Canada’s international ice hockey program. Bauer, the younger brother of former Boston Bruins star Bobby Bauer, was himself a star player in junior hockey. But the younger Bauer decided against turning pro, and instead became a priest and then a hockey coach soon after. His decision wouldn’t just change his life, but the landscape of Canada’s Olympic Team for 30 years.
Most hockey fans undoubtedly remember the 2012 movie Goon, which starred Sean William Scott as a bar bouncer who makes it onto a minor league hockey team because of his fighting prowess. That movie — which now has a sequel called Goon: Last of the Enforcers — is very loosely based on this book “Goon: The True Story of an Unlikely Journey into Minor League Hockey,” which came out a decade earlier and is currently out of print. Despite the dissimilarities between the movie and the book, “Goon” is a book worth tracking down.
Espo, Orr and 48 more
Author Fluto Shinzawa had the difficult task of taking the Boston Bruins’ 92-year history and boiling it down into his book “The Big 50: Boston Bruins: The Men and Moments that Made the Boston Bruins.” (Though it is too bad that someone couldn’t boil down the book’s title to less than 14 words.) As the title abundantly suggests, the book reads like a highlight reel of the Bruins’ best players and defining moments. But Shinzawa doesn’t just focus on the high points; some of the team’s darker moments are spotlighted.
The hockey rink has come a long way, from its humble beginnings as a frozen pond encircled by snow banks, to “old barns” like Maple Leaf Gardens, to the mall-like sports entertainment complexes of today. How this happened over the past 150 years is explained in “Architecture on Ice: A History of the Hockey Arena.” Author Howard Schubert examines the cultural factors that contributed to the evolution of the hockey rink. This is no coffee table book; this is the history book you wished for in high school.
“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.
Yesterday, Eric Lindros was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame — and deservedly so. If you look at Lindros’ entire body of work — from his days as a phenom in junior hockey, to competition on the international stage, to his eight years in Philadelphia — he belongs in the Hall. Sure, his productivity sharply declined at the end of his career, but the same could be said of many other Hall of Fame players. Lindros wasn’t just awesome in his prime; he was awesome from day one. Here we will take a look at the career, illustrated with some of his best hockey cards, of one of the Hockey Hall of Fame’s 2016 inductees.