Friday, 3 October 2008

TBC: Between The Lines

I finally am back at Hockey Blog In Canada headquarters. During my travels, I had some time to read another phenomenal hockey book. HBIC is proud to present Between The Lines: Not-So-Tall Tales From Ray "Scampy" Scapinello's Four Decades in the NHL, co-authored by Rob Simpson and Ray Scapinello, and published by Wiley. This book outlines highlights of Ray Scapinello's career as an NHL linesman, as well as how he got his start and his family life. Rarely do officials in the NHL get the spotlight unless they make a mistake, but this book is a fabulous look at one of this year's Hall-of-Fame inductees, and deserves a read to get an idea of what the officials go through in preparation for NHL games and NHL seasons. Much like NHL scouts, NHL officials do a ton of unsung work, and I'm glad to have had the opportunity to read this book.

Rob Simpson, who also co-authored Black and Gold: Four Decades of the Boston Bruins in Photographs, wrote this book. Mr. Simpson is a 25-year veteran in the sports reporting and broadcasting business, producing such television shows as Hockey Odyssey on the NHL Network and Maple Leaf America on Leafs TV.

Ray "Scampy" Scapinello was an NHL linesman in the NHL for thirty-three seasons. He officiated in 2500 NHL games, making him involved in more games in the NHL than anyone else in history. He never missed a game for any reason, and worked in a record 426 playoff games, including 20 Stanley Cup Finals.

In this book, Mr. Simpson interviews a ton of former and current officials from the NHL. The list is literally a "who's who" of the men who were or are involved in officiating: Terry Gregson, Paul Devorski, Brad Kovachik, Mark Pare, Andy Van Hellemond, Rob Shick, Scott Driscoll, Scott Morrison, Leon Stickle, Ron Foyt, Wally Harris, and Bryan Lewis - and that's only the tip of the iceberg in terms of all the officials who were interviewed. All of them have stories about Scampy, and all of them sing the praises of the work that Scampy did over the length of his career.

Honestly, though, this book tells a very detailed story of how much Ray Scapinello is respected by everyone he comes across. He's a man who embraces The Golden Rule in life, and then takes it one step further by being as charitable as he possibly can. He donates seven or eight jerseys a year to charity. He donates his time to local activities as much as he can. He is honestly one of the most charitable guys in the NHL, and I commend him for his generosity while being so "invisible" on the ice.

Having worked for so long, Scapinello's career achievements are impressive, to say the least. He worked his first NHL game on October 17, 1971 in Buffalo. He worked his 2000th game on February 26th, 1997 in Toronto. He returned to the place where his career started in Buffalo on April 2nd, 2004, officiating in his 2500th NHL regular season game - his last in the NHL. He has participated in three NHL All-Star Games, Rendez-Vous '87, the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics (where he wore a helmet for the first time in his career), and at the Igor Larionov Retirement Game in Moscow, Russia. His career has taken him all over the globe, and he's been a part of nearly every NHL superstar's legacy in terms of his involvement. He was there for Lemieux's retirement the first time, and was there for his comeback versus Toronto. He took part in Yzerman's retirement game, and was there for Gordie Howe's return to the NHL from the WHA. Scapinello's timeline would literally highlight all of the major achievements in the NHL.

Ray Scapinello's career also included something that is outlawed by the VP of Officiating in the NHL: memorabilia collecting. Scapinello has sticks, jerseys, and equipment from all sorts of players. He has, among other things, sticks from Gretzky, a torn Domi jersey, and has given son, Ryan Scapinello, pads from every NHL squad it seems. While it's understandable that the officials are fans of the game as well, it is frowned upon when officials ask players for memorabilia. This didn't seem to stop Scapinello, and he would routinely barter for items from players. Again, it shows the amount of respect that the players have for Scampy, and the amount of respect shown by him for the players.

I was impressed with this book, but there was one glaring issue that stood out to me while reading. While I'm sure that mistakes are made when writing and the editors tried to catch as many as possible, the spelling errors in people's names in the book is a "gross misconduct" in terms of the writing. I'm not going to highlight where the mistakes are made, but it did stand out to me due to knowing the names of the people about which the interviewees were speaking.

Overall, Between The Lines: Not-So-Tall Tales From Ray "Scampy" Scapinello's Four Decades in the NHL was quite enjoyable, and it had a number of humourous stories from everyone involved. If I had a top-five list of people I want to meet from the NHL, Ray Scapinello would certainly be in the top three. He is humble, generous, funny, and complete practical joker. This book is a phenomenal way to meet one of the guys who is never supposed to make a difference on the ice, and is perfect for any hockey fan, an official, or anyone who likes the history of the game. Between The Lines: Not-So-Tall Tales From Ray "Scampy" Scapinello's Four Decades in the NHL most certainly receives the Teebz's Book Club Seal of Approval!

Until next time, and definitely in this situation, keep your sticks on the ice!

1 comment:

Kirsten said...

I never made it past Yzerman's intro. (where I learned that Steve Yzerman can read.)

That's the problem with school, so little time for reading, and when I do have time, I don't feel like reading anything else.