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Friday, 20 December 2013

TBC: Behind The Net

I've been avoiding the malls like it has an infinite amount of infectious diseases, so I can't comment on how busy bookstores are right now. There have been some excellent books reviewed over the past year, and I may get one more book squeezed in before the end of the calendar year. In saying this, though, if you still need one more excellent Christmas gift for your hockey fan, I may have it here today. Teebz's Book Club is proud to review Behind the Net: 101 Incredible Hockey Stories, written by Stan Fischler and published by Sports Publishing. Mr. Fischler digs up a ton of interesting hockey stories from the beginning of the NHL through to our current era, putting the best 101 stories into this book for our pleasure. And there are some excellent stories unearthed!

From the Sports Publishing website, "Stan Fischler is a legend of sports broadcasting. He began his career as a publicist for the New York Rangers in 1954 and has been covering hockey in the over half a century since. The winner of five Emmy Awards, Fischler has worked in every medium from print to TV to Twitter. This 'Hockey Maven' currently serves as the resident hockey expert for MSG and MSG Plus. He can be seen every week on MSG Hockey Night Live. He lives in New York City." I'll also add that Mr. Fischler has written a number of books on hockey, and received the 2007 Lester Patrick Trophy for his contributions to hockey in the United States.

I'll tell you up front that I read this book fairly quickly. The stories aren't long, but the pages are filled with a ton of hockey history and some pretty interesting facts. Mr. Fischler clearly went way back into the archives to grab some of these amazing stories, and others were ones he covered himself as a member of the media. In either case, there are 101 fantastic hockey tomes in Behind the Net, and it's a very enjoyable read!

The book itself is broken down by chapters in terms of the actual stories, but these are further categorized into five sections: Hockey History, Colorful Characters, Unlikely Heroes, Incredible Feats/Personalites, and Outrageous. Depending on your mood, you could opt to read the "Outrageous" section of stories first if you wished, but regardess of the order that Behind the Net is read, there is something that every hockey fan can find interesting.

There are stories of a team using dog sleds to get the the Stanley Cup Final, Billy Mosienko's amazing feat of a hat trick in 21 seconds, the feat of using two goaltenders in a game who regularly switched on line changes (it happened!), and, of course, Santa's favorite hockey team! You didn't know the big guy had a favorite team, did you? Well, he does, and Mr. Fischler's research proves it!

One of my favorite stories was about the man to the right, Mr. Tom Fenton. On December 16, 2010, the Coyotes called upon Mr. Fenton to help them out after Ilya Bryzgalov fell ill following a meal. The Purchase, New York native and Manhattanville College coach got a call from Coyotes assistant GM Brad Treliving to see if he could join the team as theback-up netminder for the game against the New York Rangers! The 26 year-old first thought his friends were playing a prank on him, but he did make it to Madison Square Garden to don his #35 jersey as a member of the Phoenix Coyotes! Mr. Fischler writes,
Fenton took warmups with his new team, adorned in NHL goalie equipment and his very own Phoenix Coyotes jersey (which he got to keep afterward). His teammates went easy on him before the game, but Fenton had a sudden vision of being forced into the game by a freak LaBarbera injury and having Rangers' winger Marian Gaborik bearing down on him menacingly with the puck.
Mr. Fenton escaped that fate, though, as Jason LaBarbera survived the game without injury. He was interviewed by FSN Arizona's Todd Walsh, though, so that's a pretty cool story - one that Mr. Fenton won't forget!

The weird part? Brett Leonhardt, the video coach for the Capitals, has been pressed into action a couple of times when the Capitals' goaltenders get injured during warmups. Doug Slipacoff, Tom Fenton's best friend, was Leonhardt's roommate in college! How crazy is that?!? I hear Twilight Zone music.

Stories like Mr. Fenton's tale make Behind the Net a great gift for yourself or your hockey fan. Mr. Fischler's time spent covering and around the game is evident as the 101 stories have a uniqueness to them that simply wouldn't be there if it weren't for Mr. Fischler's devotion and dedication to the game and his craft. The writing is excellent throughout the 251 pages, and I found it difficult to put the book down once I started reading. For these reasons, there is no doubt that Behind the Net: 101 Incredible Hockey Stories deserves the Teebz's Book Club Seal of Approval!

Look for Behind the Net: 101 Incredible Hockey Stories at your local bookstores now, and give your hockey fan 101 reasons to love hockey this Christmas season!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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