Tag Archives: brodeur

Steve Martin Brodeur

Tonight’s blog takes the form of a Jeopardy front-and-back answer: Steve Martin and Martin Brodeur, brought to you by the semi-annual confluence of the Devils and Montreal. Comedian Steve Martin once said, you can say anything in French and it sounds great. “J’ai faisait du but”, pardoning my conjugation, means “I scored a goal.” However, “Quelle dommage, c’est grand frommage,” sounds wonderful with cadence and rhyme, except it means “It’s a shame, it’s a big cheese”.

Nobody on the Canadiens could quip either tonight, even with approval of the Academie Francaise, as the Devils cruised 3-0 to win their second in a row. No, Canada, indeed. With a shutout, and back-to-back victories, you’d think Marty Brodeur would be the first star of the game? If not the first, maybe at least in the top three? In Brodeur’s home city, les escrivers sportifs demonstrated Homer-ism in the finest form: Habs goalie Cristobal Huet made the star-spangled banner, Brodeur didn’t. As Steve Martin might say, “excuse me.”

Top Ten Hockey Books

I love books. I buy many more than I read, and lately I’ve been buying out of print or gently used editions from amazon.com to add to my collection. Typically the used tomes fill in from days when spending $15 on a book would have put a serious dent in my spending money. Now that I can dabble in books and have somewhere to put them other than a cardboard mover’s box, I’m able to build up small libraries in obtuse topics such as Lake Placid, New York, hold’em poker, cryptography, and 70s art rock group Yes.

Without any further introduction, here’s my current top ten favorite hockey books:

Last Season, Roy MacGregor. The only fictional book in the list, and one of the few sports-related books that’s ever made me profoundly sad. Perhaps it’s “Bats” discovering his limitations as a man and player; perhaps it’s the surprise ending.
Ice Time, Jay Atkinson. A book for hockey dads by a hockey dad himself, who also happens to be an outstanding sports writer. Atkinson follows the trials, travails and training of the Methuen, Massachusetts high school team, but this book truly digs into what it means to be a good youth sports parent.
Boys of Winter, Wayne Coffey. Of all of the content scribbled about the Miracle on Ice, this is far and away my favorite collection of insights and stories. Coffey takes a look at each player, and how their lives were shaped before and after the famous 4-3 game in Lake Placid. I quote from the introduction frequently as our youth hockey season winds down, as Jim Craig’s few pages alone are worth the cover price.
Blades of Glory, John Rosengren. Sort of the foil to Ice Time, Rosengren follows big-time high school hockey in the first state of hockey (Minnesota). Another great look at a season from deep inside the locker room. Casual references to players from rival high schools read like a who’s who of young NHL players, with the New Jersey Devils’ own Zach Parise and Paul Martin making cameo appearances as themselves.
Home Team, Roy MacGregor. He’s so good he gets two slots. Non-fiction and closer to home (literally). Blend Last Season with Ice Time and you get this book, a look at fathers and sons in and around NHL draft events. Expectations, met, exceeded, undershot or crushed, and how hockey families sometimes are more about family than hockey.
They Don’t Play Hockey in Heaven, Ken Baker. You’ve probably never heard of Ken Baker, as he was a goalie for Colgate but never “made it”. I only discovered this book after reading Kathyrn Bertine’s All The Sundays Yet To Come (figure skating and anorexia in South America, but quite funny), as she and Baker were friendly at Colgate. As an adult league player, and someone who has met many guys who always wondered if they could have made it in the ECHL, this is a great read: Baker tells a story of fulfilling his dream of playing professional hockey well after he had hung up his skates, and the result has the poignancy of a Disney movie blended with the rough edges of “Slap Shot.”
The Game, Ken Dryden. Stanley Cup, Montreal Canadiens, Cornell University, and now big-time Canadian politician. Awesome read, and in a newly released reprint.
Beyond The Crease, Martin Brodeur (and Damien Cox). Not at all what I was expecting. Rather than the usual “I was taped to the goal by my older brother who fired pucks at me from a carbon-dioxide powered air gun” story of his life from 3 years old to 3 Stanley Cups, Brodeur’s book focuses on much more recent events, including his relationship to the Devils management and the league, how he sees the sport evolving, and what it was like to represent his country in the Olympics. His reflections on playing in Torino, and echoing his father’s footsteps on Italian Olympic ground, are alone worth the purchase price.
Breaking the Ice, Angela Ruggiero. So this one is about brother-baiting and boy-badgering, but it’s about the only book I can find that addresses women’s hockey.
The Hockey I Love, Vladislav Tretiak. Yes, the Russian goaltender, who was pulled from the Miracle on Ice game. The book ends in the late 70s, a few years before the Lake Placid Olympics, so you don’t get Tretiak’s views on the game for which he’s probably best known in the States. What you do find is a discourse on playing in some of the most famous international hockey series of the 70s.

What’s missing? A book about Jeff Halpern . Something focused on hockey diversity, featuring Scott Gomez and Jarome Iginla, perhaps. The hagiography of Saint Patrik (Elias), with a whole chapter on how he can consume dumplings and kolachi and still be pure muscle.

98 Men Of Power and Influence

The annual “100 People of Power and Influence” fills the current double-wide issue of The Hockey News, as it does to start every new calendar season. Once again, it reads like an alumni listing of the Old Boys’ School; while last year the list was 99 men and one woman, this year THN added Hayley Wickenheiser at slot 95 to make it 98 Men Of Power and Influence and oh yeah, two women too. If this list is supposed to be about influence on hockey, in hockey, and through hockey, then it had better reflect the demographics of the sport and the fan base. Rows of GMs, mainstream media broadcasters, league executives and some NHL players is a microcosm of what is wrong with the NHL Nation today: it’s not expanding.

Women’s hockey remains missing in (fun) action. I had a lot more fun watching the USA women play in Torino than the men. Women’s hockey is alive and well around the world, but you’d never know it from the Hockey News list. It’s supposed to be about “hockey” not “men’s professional hockey”, right? Angela Ruggiero is a glaring omission. Olympic athlete, youth athletics advocate, community service leader for the NY Islanders, and autobiographical author. Influence grows communities. Second on the missing list is Laura Halldorson, women’s ice hockey coach at the University of Minnesota. Her bid for a hat trick of national championships was spoiled by Wisconson, coached by Miracle on Ice alum Mark Johnson. Halldorson was instrumental in the growth of ECAC women’s hockey and Laura’s work helped ensure that the efforts of the top college women’s player would be recognized in the Patty Kazmeier award, named after her late Tiger teammate.

College hockey is not represented. Not every NHL player gets drafted right out of high school or juniors. For many hockey players, NCAA-sanctioned hockey is the top of their career, and they’ll go on to play ECHL or European hockey for a year or two before putting the college degree to work. Those players remain fans of the game, and if THN’s list is supposed to be about power and influence in the game, it has to include the programs that can build life-long fans. Boston Bruins tickets pale in comparison to Bean Pot ducats in the city that knows more than beans about hockey.

Hockey may be for everyone, unless you’re on the list. Jarome Iginla is “the face of hockey in Canada”, and he’s the sole minority on the list. The NHL has a variety of diversity programs, again intended to expand the reach, scope and fan base for the game, but none of that work shows up in this list. How about Ice Hockey in Harlem, or the Newark Devils Renaissance effort underway to make hockey accessible in and around the Devils’ new building? Broadcasters on the west coast are making a big deal of Georges Laraque’s transformation from enforcer to play-maker — isn’t that what the new rules were supposed to highlight? This year’s list isn’t only a huge majority of white men, it’s North American white men. Europeans? Russians and Baltic states? Diversity comes in many flavors, and it generally drives expansion of your talent arena, fan base, and power pool.

Where are the fans?. Maybe I’m just having trouble with the preponderance of mainstream media on the 2007 list. But with the number of message boards and blogs that focus on hockey, sometimes exclusively on hockey, why not at least acknowledge the fans and their direct participation in the marketing of the sport? The NHL’s “invitation only” blog effort is a start, but it’s league-centric; check out Hockey’s Future boards for a taste of unedited hockey wisdom or Off Wing Opinion and its daily dose of random non-press clippings from the mouths of the lowly fan (that would be us bloggers). Please, acknowledge that the game needs fans, and in particular fans in seats, for the “new economic certainties” to be long-term positive for the players, the league and ultimately, those same fans.

It wouldn’t be a new year if I didn’t make some predictions for next year’s list, so here goes:

Mark Cuban. I’d love to see him get involved with the Penguins. And he’d help fix a lot of the fan outreach issues.

Patrik Elias. I was happy to see Marty Brodeur on this year’s list, but he’s rostered because of his work on the competition committee and his Olympic efforts. His book was a good read, and Marty truly understands using the players to market the game. Elias demonstrated many of the things that the league wanted out of the new labor agreement: he took a hometown discount in his unrestricted free agency year, he signed a deal with a no-trade clause, he’s wearing the captain’s “C” on his sweater a year after nearly dying from a hepatitis infection, and he remains a genuinely good guy playing good hockey and leading the first-place NJ Devils into the second half of the season. If the Devils have a good second half and second season, then Elias deserves some props.

Linda Cohn. Am I the only one who read’s Linda’s missives on the ESPN NHL pages?. She’s a dyed-in-the-blue hockey fan, former hockey player, great commentator, fan agitator, and story aggregator. At the risk of sounding like the bridge of Genesis’ “Dodo”, she definitely has power and influence. Or does The Hockey News ignore all other media (see point about blogs above)?

Study In Contrast

Study in Pennsylvania contrast: Sidney Crosby has 10 points in his last two games. Two goals on two shots, and a snowman worth of assists. It’s one thing to notch an assist from a shot that gets redirected, quite another to make the laser-like, tape to tape passes that seem to be a staple of Sid the Kid. Last night’s behind the back bounce pass off the boards, resulting in a backhand flip to Ryan Malone in front, was highlight reel material this morning. Life is good for the #1 draft pick.

Then there’s Petr Nedved. A pair of shots, one goal, and a low yo (that would be -11 to mash most appropriate craps and plus/minus ratings) in ten games. Nedved was waived for the second time this season by the Flyers, and after clearing waivers he ended up back with the Phantoms in the AHL. In a way, I feel for the guy — he’s lost his glamorous wife (Victoria’s Secret and Sports Illustrated model Veronika Varekova) and his glamorous job in the same year. A winter of discontent, indeed. Life sucks for the #2 draft pick. Nedved was chosen second in the 1990 draft, ahead of another Czech guy named Jagr taken 5th by the Penguins in the and Martin Brodeur, chosen 20th by the Devils.

Great Expectations

Youth sports parents have received significant quantities of bad press in the last few years. Much of it is deserved: parents attacking coaches or each other don’t set a good example for their kids. I have zero scientific evidence divining the root cause of this escalation in bad behavior, but I’m sure the growth in competitive travel programs along with increasing hopes that excellence in sports leads to a discounted college education, have something to do with it. Most of us just need to relax and have fun. Most of the kids have forgotten the win or loss before the scoresheet is mailed.

Whether it’s exhilarating or terrifying for you to watch your own child play, the hardest spectator seat in the house goes to the hockey goalie’s parent. The goalie is seen as the last line of defense. But it’s unfair for all eyes to turn to the goalie when the red light goes on, because the goal tells you that the other five skaters didn’t play defense or weren’t in position before the shot went off.

This weekend we had a game against one of our local rivals. Their starting goalie’s father sat directly behind the scorer’s table, at center ice. He gave his son the respect — and support — of not sitting at the far end of the bleachers, and then switching sides at the end of the period. The loudest thing in his immediate vicinity was his bright orange hat. His son played very well, and he made goaltending look easy with fluid motions and excellent line of sight to the puck. 17 minutes and 11 saves worth of shut-out hockey, it was time to switch goalies, with some nice crowd support. Orange Hat clapped for every player, and not once did I hear his slightly accented voice. In short, worthy models of how to play and watch the game.

What’s the big deal, you ask? In Orange Hat’s day job, he wears a helmet with the 4 initials of his children written across the back. His son wears his father’s number (30) on his back. Above the number, in 4-inch high blue and white letters, is the name that’s key to the story: Brodeur. When your grandfather was an Olympic ice hockey medalist, and your father brought home the Olympic gold medal in ice hockey along with three Stanley Cups and a Vezina Trophy, there are great expectations for you. Hats off — orange or otherwise — to Marty and Anthony for just having fun.