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Jim Amodeo, Bob Goldham's daughter Barb Loynachan, and NHL Vice-President Jim Gregory at the Original Six Alumni on July 9, 2018. Photo by Lora Evans, Hat Trik Photography.
The Original Six Alumni luncheons, held the first Monday of every month in Markham, Ontario, are a truly wonderful celebration of hockey and the bonds that it creates. I've been going when I can for years now, and every time I go, I meet someone new—I sat with long-time coach Pierre Page, in from Austria, the last time I was there in July—and share laughs with people I've gotten to know pretty well.
One of the people I've become friends with there is Jim Amodeo, who runs the Hockey Then & Now blog (http://hockeythenandnow.blogspot.com). His first book, Bob Goldham Outside the Goal Crease, came about through people that he met at the luncheons.
“A regular attendee, Doug Wellington, enjoyed reading my hockey history blog and suggested that I consider writing a book on Bob,” recalled Amodeo. Wellington was a friend of the Goldham family, and so much more.
Wellington “provided me access to the background material in his possession that included priceless scrapbooks, letters and other documents,” said Amodeo. “The most valuable piece was 50 pages of original material where Bob recorded his personal and professional memories. At this point, I realized there was much more to the Bob Goldham story and I took the plunge.”
Born in Georgetown, Ontario, Goldham moved to Toronto for high school, and suited up for the OHA Toronto Marlboros. In 1941-42, he joined the Maple Leafs in the Stanley Cup finals—still the only one in history where a team, the Leafs, came back from a 3-0 deficit in the final to win the Cup over the Red Wings. Later, Goldham, a defenceman who was an early proponent of shotblocking, played for Detroit and Chicago. After hanging up his skates, he coached at St. Michael's College School.
While no stranger to writing, this was Amodeo's first book project. He painstakingly gathered the research material, and then sought out to interview people who knew and played with Bob Goldham, and who worked with him post-hockey, including on Hockey Night in Canada.
“In many ways, it was like putting a puzzle together until each piece was in place. Only then, was I in a position to sit down at the keyboard and construct a chapter by chapter outline,” said Amodeo, a lifelong Toronto resident, and Leafs fan. “Once the outline was completed, the writing commenced and the book came to life. Both the gathering of the research and writing took a lengthy amount of time. In particular, when it came to the research. Often, one discovery led to another, then another. As I wasn't under any deadline pressures, this enabled me to take my time and not rush. Also, life often got in the way and at times the project was put on abeyance. The production time from start to finish, with interruptions, was approximately nine years.”
Amodeo was surprised how little the hockey community and fans knew about Goldham. “When I mentioned Bob, most replies noted his time as a studio analyst and colour commentator on Hockey Night in Canada. As for his playing career in the NHL, no one, except his contemporaries, seemed aware of his accomplishments or contributions to the game.”
Since Goldham last played in 1955-56, Amodeo turned to the few players who were around during his playing days, Ted Lindsay, Glenn Hall, and the like. If only it was possible to go back in time, mused Amodeo. “Bob skated alongside and against some of the greatest names to play in the NHL. It would have been a joy to interview Turk Broda and Terry Sawchuk, his goalies in Toronto and Detroit. His first partner on the Leafs blueline, Bucko McDonald, is included in this list. Jack Adams, the general manager of the Red Wings, is considered to be one of the Original Six era tyrants and I could have pick his mind for hours. I can close my eyes and imagine talking with Hap Day and Conn Smythe (Leafs), Bill Tobin and Charlie Conacher (Black Hawks) and many more.”
It was a shutout, though, when it came to finding a publisher, said Amodeo. “As per the submission requirements, I followed each step requested by various publishers, then held my breath. They say 'silence is golden,' but in the author-publisher relationship the opposite is true. There were no rejection letters in my inbox or telephone calls to meet, just deafening silence,” he said. “I wasn't really surprised by this and luckily, I had another path to pursue. This detour took me to the world of self-publishing. There was no doubt in my mind Bob's story was worth telling.”
So now it's self-promotion, through his blog, through interviews and social media, for Amodeo. “This will be an ongoing process. You don't get rich in self-publishing, but the big reward comes from hearing how much someone enjoyed the book.” It's available on Amazon.
Naturally, Amodeo had his book at the July 2018 Original Six Alumni luncheon. He got up to speak about it, as did Barb Loynachan, his Goldham’s daughter, and then set up a table to sell copies to his many friends. On hand were key interviews / people in the project, such as Wellington, former St. Mike's manager Jim Gregory and Leafs/Rangers great Bob Nevin.
What's next? “Well, I have a notebook and file folders full of ideas and material for future projects. But for the moment, I'm buckling down to make sure Bob Goldham: Outside The Goal Crease gets the exposure it deserves,” said Amodeo. “Also, it will be fun to return to my blog, hockeythenandnow.blogspot.com, and delve into stories I've gathered over the past while.”
I'm heading off camping with the Scout troop that I work with, so won't have a column in two weeks. When I'm back, I'm back. There are a bunch of fall release hockey books already in my house, so I'll read at least one while relaxing at Haliburton Scout Reserve.
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