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It was a book that Joe Pelletier was reluctant to write, if only because it was guaranteed to open up scabs and allow the pain to return. He's bled for the Vancouver Canucks for his entire life, which means there has been a lot more downs than ups, and that one close-call, in 2011, was a doozy.
His self-published 50 Years of Vancouver Canucks Hockey is available now (see https://tinyurl.com/Canucks50) , though it wasn't a guarantee.
“I've been humming and hawing over my future in hockey writing for quite a while now,” explained the busy Pelletier in an email. “But I knew I had to have a project on the Canucks on the bookshelf before I am done. I'm a life-long Canucks fan and writing a Canucks book seemed like something I had to do. And with the 50th anniversary season upon us, it seemed like not only the perfect time, but the now or never time.”
50 Years of Vancouver Canucks is more than just a history of the team, which debuted in the NHL in 1970, though obviously that's in there too, along with a background of hockey in British Columbia, a take on the various owners, general managers and coaches, and a ranking of the top players through the years. It's much more to Pelletier, who has run the GreatestHockeyLegends.com website for 20 years.
“I tell them that stuff but weave in personal stories, some joyful, some full of anguish, and make it relatable to fans,” he said.
It's essentially a memoir of the 45-year-old Pelletier's Canucks fandom.
The pain of the 2011 Game 7 loss to the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup final “was the major stumbling block,” he said. “I had never revisited those events and really didn't want to. I delayed that chapter as long as I could, and in fact the project almost died with my refusal to look back at it. That's how devastating 2011 was. But I got through it and had to go back and take a look at the whole work with a slightly altered viewpoint, adding in some more personal thoughts. Probably not enough in comparison to 2011 where I got downright personal.”
He knows that fellow Canucks fans still consider 2011 a fresh wound as well. “It still ranks as the worst moment in my history as a Canucks fan, but it should be celebrated as the year we really were the best team in the league, the best team in franchise history and in many cases the best players we ever had. We don't celebrate that greatness. I'm a little more appreciative of that team now, and that wouldn't have happened without this process.”
The chosen Canucks that Pelletier profiles are similarly his choice. “We're not talking about the Montreal Canadiens here. There are maybe 10-15 true greats in franchise history, followed by a number of fan favorites/local legends and some very good players,” he said. “I'm sure there will be some dispute about who did not make the final list, there always is with these types of things. But I was open about this being a personal list, just like this is a personal book.”
With previous books, The World Cup of Hockey, The Legends of Team Canada and Pucks On The 'Net, under his belt and the experience of running GreatestHockeyLegends.com and its companion, the somewhat-dormant http://www.hockeybookreviews.com, Pelletier knew what he wanted with 50 Years of Vancouver Canucks.
“I didn't even try the traditional publishing route. I didn't have the greatest experience with my two traditionally published books, and that helped turn me off of my dream of writing hockey books,” he revealed. “My third book (Pucks On The 'Net) came out in the infancy stages of self-publishing. Now self publishing is a real joy. It's fairly simple and I get to control everything. No, I don't have a marketing machine and wholesaling is a real issue, but sales are not what is important to me. Just having the project out there is what I wanted.”
Besides a Canucks resurgence—not out of the question with the legions of young stars on the current roster—Pelletier, a running enthusiast who lives in Terrace, British Columbia, is hoping that the book finds its audience. “The reception has been very positive. I need to get word out around the internet as it's basically sold only on Amazon, so that's my challenge. But for just 20 bucks it makes the perfect Christmas gift for the Canucks fan on your shopping list.”
JE ME SOUVIENS
All the best to those travelling to Quebec City for the Society for International Hockey Research fall meeting this weekend, October 18-19. There will be some cool books available for sale to boot. Wish I could be there, but had to make a choice, and am attending an event the following weekend.
It likely escaped the attention of the English-speaking hockey fans, but there is a new autobiography by Serge Savard that was just released. It's in French and titled Canadien jusqu'au bout. It's co-written with Philippe Cantin of La Presse. No word on the possibility of an English-language version.
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