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Thursday, 13 October 2011

TBC: My First Goal

We're back with a book that is literally arriving on bookstore shelves this week as HBIC and Teebz's Book Club was lucky enough to grab a sneak peek at My First Goal, written by Mike Brophy and published by McClelland & Stewart. There have been thousands of "first goals" in the NHL, but some are certainly more memorable than others. All of them, though, are important and memorable to the individual players, and Mike Brophy gets the inside scoop from some of the NHL's greatest players and current stars as to how their first goals were scored in the NHL. Mike Brophy looks at fifty different NHL players and how they scored their first goals, and the vast majority of them remember all the little details: who it was against, who passed them the puck, and how many games it took. My First Goal is a great addition for any hockey fan!

You may recognize Mr. Brophy's picture from his work on the Sportsnet.ca website. According to his bio on the McClelland & Stewart website, "Mike Brophy is a hockey analyst for Rogers Sportsnet, a syndicated columnist and twice-weekly analyst for The Team 990 in Montreal. Brophy covered junior hockey for the Peterborough Examiner for 14 years and served as a senior writer with The Hockey News for 17 years. The Hamilton, Ontario, native has been writing about hockey for more than 30 years and won six Ontario Newswire writing awards for his coverage of junior hockey. Brophy won the Benjamin Franklin Award for best new voice for his book Curtis Joseph: The Acrobat. Mike has collaborated with Ralph Mellanby, renowned Executive Television Producer of Hockey Night in Canada, on two bestselling books The Legends of Hockey and Let The Games Begin. Brophy and his wife, Marilyn, live in Pickering, Ontario, and have three children, Chase, Blair, and Darryl."

Like the fifty players interviewed by Mr. Brophy, we'll start at the beginning. Mr. Brophy had the foreword for My First Goal written by Glen Hanlon, one of many goalies victimized by players over the years for their first goals. But Glen Hanlon also had one very special player score on him for his first goal, and that player was Wayne Gretzky. Of course, Gretzky victimized about a thousand other goalies over his career, but his first NHL goal came against a pretty good player in Glen Hanlon. Mr. Hanlon has some pretty good words for the readers in his foreword.

From there, it's all about the players. Listen to this collection of names found in the book: Bobby Orr, Wayne Gretzky, Sidney Crosby, Phil Esposito, Ron Hextall, Doug Gilmour, Mark Messier, Steve Yzerman, Jean BĂ©liveau, Brett Hull, the Howes, the Staals, and Teemu Selanne to name just a few of the fifty players that Mr. Brophy interviewed for My First Goal. The stories that these men tell about how nervous they were and how relieved they were to score their first NHL goals goes to show you that even the biggest hockey stars are like you and I in that they get nervous too!

Some players, like Gretzky and Messier, actually got to count two first goals as they both started their careers in the WHA before arriving in the NHL. Mark and Marty Howe also scored their first professional goals in the WHA before making the jump to the NHL. All four men speak of their first professional goals in the stories they tell, and it's nice to hear all four men acknowledge the WHA as the stepping stone that got them to the biggest stage in the hockey world.

My First Goal brings back some great memories of the first time these legendary players bulged the twine, but one player's story that I took a particular interest in was Teemu Selanne's story simply because I remember watching when he scored his first NHL goal.

"I remember it like it was yesterday, because I scored my first NHL goal in the legendary old Cow Palace in [San Francisco]," Selanne said. "It was on the power play and, like a lot of my goals, it was a slapshot from the side. I remember Keith Tkachuk was standing in front of the net, setting a good screen so the goalie couldn't see. I remember thinking how good it felt to get that first one."
Of course, Selanne would score many more goals in that rookie season as the Finnish Flash established the new rookie goal-scoring record, obliterating Mike Bossy's old record. Jeff Hackett was the San Jose Sharks goaltender he beat with the slapshot on October 8, 1992 on his way to scoring 76 that season.

Overall, My First Goal is a very good book that gives fans a chance to hear about how each of the fifty selected players notched their first goal in their careers. Mr. Brophy doesn't really add a lot of his own thoughts to the book, and nor does he need to when it comes to the players filling the pages with their memories. My First Goal is a very easy read for a 254-page book, and it really should be on your hockey fan's Christmas list this year. Because of the fabulous stories as told by players between the covers, My First Goal deserves the Teebz's Book Club Seal of Approval for its excellent look at fifty of the most important goals in NHL history.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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