Monday, April 20, 2015

A good book . . . A baseball rant, and one in hockey . . . Coach wins title, gets sacked


In recent weeks, my reading habits became dictated by author Ken Follett — a couple of his epics and a few shorter ones. I also discovered C.J. Box, who writes fiction about the life and times of game warden Joe Pickett and his Wyoming-based family.
In between, I found time to read a book that I had been saving since Christmas, the same way you
save the meat around the pork chop’s bone for the end of the meal.
That book is Hockey Confidential, which was written by Bob McKenzie, pro hockey’s original insider. It is subtitled Inside Stories from People Inside the Game, which is exactly what it is.
As the Internet age and advertising-dictated deadlines came to have an impact on the daily newspaper business and the way we wrote game stories, I would tell reporters who worked with me to write about people.
And that’s exactly what McKenzie has done in Hockey Confidential, a terrific, fun read.
This isn’t a book full of opinion or suggestions to improve the game of hockey or anything else of that ilk. Rather, it’s a book about people.
There are 11 chapters and each is a story onto itself.
In the chapter titled Recalculating, you may think that you are going to read about Montreal Canadiens defenceman P.K. Subban and his hockey-playing brothers, Malcolm and Jordan. Instead, it’s almost completely about their remarkable father, Karl.
A couple of chapters later, you are into The Road to Redemption, and it’s another remarkable story. As a player, Sheldon Keefe once refused to shake hands with OHL commissioner David Branch. Today, Keefe is the head coach of the OHL’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. McKenzie tells Keefe’s story, warts and all.
Hockey Confidential also is ample evidence that if taken out of their natural environment hockey people are capable of loosening up and telling tales. McKenzie seems to have chatted with many of his subjects in coffee shops and the results are impressive.
Give this a read. You won’t be disappointed.
In fact, here’s hoping that McKenzie comes up with one of these in time for every Christmas.


No Games Scheduled.


With no games scheduled until Friday, things were quiet on the WHL front on Monday.
In Brandon, two of the Wheat Kings’ four injured players were back on the ice, although one didn’t take part in the complete practice. Rob Henderson of the Brandon Sun reports: “D Colton Waltz and RW Rihards Bukarts, who were both injured in Game 2 of the Wheat Kings’ second-round victory over the Regina Pats, returned to practice on Monday, although Waltz only took part in the first half of the session. RW Jayce Hawryluk and RW Reid Duke, who were also hurt in the series, did not skate with their teammates.”
D Ben Betker of the Everett Silvertips will finish his season with the AHL’s Oklahoma City Barons. He was a sixth-round selection by the parent Edmonton Oilers in the NHL’s 2013 NHL draft. . . . Nick Patterson of the Everett Herald had that tidbit and more — Will F Nikita Scherbak be back with Everett? What about F Ivan Nikolishin? — in a notebook that is right here. . . . Patterson also touches on what will be one of the hottest stories around the WHL this summer — what will Auston Matthews do?
Baseball, it seems, provides us with a good rant every once in a while. You’ve seen the one with then-Kansas City Royals manager Hal McRae, I’m sure, and you may have heard or seen then-Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda go off after he was asked about a three-run homer performance by Dave Kingman. If you haven’t seen either, I have a feeling they’re available on YouTube.
Yesterday, it was Bryan Price’s turn. Price is the manager of the Cincinnati Reds, and it seems that he has forgotten, if he ever was aware, that it isn’t the job of the media to sell tickets.
C. Trent Rosencrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer has the story, including an excerpt from the rant, right here. He reports that the five-minute 34-second rant includes “77 uses of the ‘F’ word or a variant and 11 uses of a vulgar term for feces (two bovine, one equine).”
Don’t say you weren’t warned.
Later in the evening came word that Jim Rutherford, the general manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins, had directed an expletive or three at Rob Rossi, a columnist with Trib Total Media. . . . Rossi, who has been critical of Rutherford’s moves for a lot of this season, responded with a column that is right here.
Over in Great Britain, the Sheffield Steelers won the Elite League championship under head coach Gerad Adams (Regina, Kelowna, 1995-99). So how did they reward him? They sacked him. . . . The Steelers said in a statement: “The decision comes after an end of season review by club ownership and management on the direction the Steelers need to take moving forward.” . . . Adams told Bob Westerdale of the Sheffield Star that he is “frustrated and disappointed.” Adams added: “I delivered a title that the organization had been after some time, so I leave with my head held high. I am very proud of what I achieved and will conduct myself now on a professional basis.” . . . Westerdale’s story is right here.
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