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Ken Reid is back with another “easy reading” book. It's called One to Remember: Stories from 39 Members of the NHL’s One Goal Club. As with his two editions of Hockey Card Stories and One Night Only: Conversations with the NHL’s One-Game Wonders, it's a series of conversations with hockey players, mini-bios that are eminently readable.
“I think I found my niche. People seem to like it, they buy the books, and they seem to enjoy them, which is good,” Reid chuckled on the phone from his Toronto home. “I'm not Shakespeare, I never claimed to be Shakespeare. I like to write in the style that brings the reader as if they're sitting across the table from a guy having a beer with 'em. And I think that's kind of what I've been doing, and it's worked so far, I think it'll work again.”
The Sportsnet news anchor also noted that he didn't want to get “typecast,” and noted that he also did an autobiography, Dennis Maruk: The Unforgettable Story of Hockey’s Forgotten 60-Goal Man with Dennis Maruk (See my review), and a fun book of photos with the late Eddie Shack, Eddie Shack: Hockey's Most Entertaining Stories. (See my review)
His first book, celebrating hockey cards, was a challenge, and as he did more writing, it's gotten smoother as a process, at least, if not exactly easy.
“The first book took me a lot longer,” he said. “I don't think I learned shortcuts, but I believe in work smart, not work hard. So I think the writing process has gotten a wee tad easier in the form that I use.”
Reid sees these books as a way to celebrate lesser names, but names that still made it to the NHL, whether it was for a single game, or a career that only saw them count a lone goal.
“Just because someone isn't a household name, doesn't mean he doesn't have a great story,” he said. “And I wanted to really find out what these guys are all about.”
One to Remember, published by ECW Press,does have some big names though, even if they only scored a single goal. The best-known skater is probably known for Slap Shot and not his NHL career. “Most hockey fans know Dave Hanson as one of the Hanson Brothers. But do they actually know that he played and scored a goal in the NHL? Probably not, and he'll be the first to admit that,” said Reid. “So I was glad to show another side of a guy like Dave.”
Then there's the goalies. Billy Smith was the first keeper to score a goal, but it was counted since he was last to touch the puck, not because he tried to score. “Billy doesn't think much of it, but I think it's pretty cool. ... first goalie to ever score. Billy doesn't really make a big deal about anything. I guess that it's up to us to make a big deal of it.”
To make it easier, Reid breaks out the stories into sections, which loosely explain how the player got to the NHL or why they only made a single marker. “Injury Bug” tells a story on its own, and “First-Round Expectations” and “Junior Stars” pique one's interest on what happened. Goalies and tough guys get their own sections too.
The players in One to Remember were around to tell their story, which was important to Reid.
“I wanted to get it from the perspective of the players and I wanted to speak to the players. So yeah, obviously, I couldn't speak to many older players because they're not with us anymore,” he said. There are a few older players, from the Original Six era, and they made for a fascinting read. Stu McNeill went on to become a surgeon, and Les Kozak became a scientist.
Even the process of finding the older players has gotten a little easier, and, to a degree, Reid thinks that the previous books being out there help with the new interview when he cold calls.
“If I called somebody or reached with success, they all got back to me, and it all worked. There was no one I reached, who said, 'No, I don't want to do it,'” he said. “You go down certain avenues to try and find a number for a guy or reach out to find a guy. It may not work out, or you might not be able to contact them, but I'm pretty sure everybody that I did reach, no one was on the phone with me and said, 'No thank you.'”
That doesn't mean that some don't require convincing. “Most guys are a blast to talk to. A ton of guys go, 'How you going to do a book out of one goal?' I just say, 'Let's just talk and we'll see where it goes.'”
The Tampa Bay Lightning deserve all the credit in the world for their Stanley Cup win, bubbling down twice, first in Toronto and then Edmonton. Kudos to the Dallas Stars for surprising all of us too. Naturally, there's a book on the Lightning coming. It's from Triumph Books, and will be called Lightning Strikes by Erik Erlendsson. Preorders are being taken at http://triumphbooks.com/LightningWin.
STILL CHIPPING AWAY
The daughter-father team of Kerry and Roy MacGregor are heading back to the young reader shelves, with the on-sale date for their new book, The Ice Chips and the Grizzly Escape, announced as January 12, 2021. It's the fifth book in the series, published by HarperCollins. (I interviewed Kerry back in April 2018: Read now)
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