Wednesday, 4 March 2015

TBC: Tales Of A First-Round Nothing

Judging a player's career is always a subjective topic. Those who play for a long time and amass a pile of points are generally viewed as stars while those who have a cup of coffee in the NHL are generally considered journeymen. Those who come in with hype from being a first-round pick but flame out with little to show for it are generally considered busts. But is that fair if he has a long and storied career not playing in the NHL? With that in mind, Teebz's Book Club is proud to review Tales of a First-Round Nothing, written by Terry Ryan and published by ECW Press. Terry's book is funny, intellectual, and he tells a helluva story. In saying that, there's a great message in Tales of a First-Round Nothing about living one's life to the fullest.

From the ECW website, "Terry Ryan played professional hockey for nearly a decade, and now plays in the Newfoundland Senior Hockey League. He currently works as a production assistant on the hit CBC show Republic of Doyle and lives in Portugal Cove, Newfoundland, with his wife and their two children." I should also throw in that he has won a two ball hockey world championships as a member of Team Canada's entries while also picking up a silver medal and a bronze medal. Terry has also won a silver medal in the Allan Cup tournament. In short, he has had a long and storied career both on and off the ice with hockey, and is enjoying life as a family man!

Tales of a First-Round Nothing at a glance is the story of Terry Ryan being drafted eighth-overall in 1995 by the storied Montreal Canadiens, his childhood team, and playing a grand total of eight games for them. Most would label that pick as a bust, but Terry's stories show so much more than just the black-and-white numbers of stats and games played as he became a journeyman after a few unfortunate breaks. But, as the saying goes, "Success is a journey, not a destination."

Terry talks a lot about his time in junior hockey with the Tri-City Americans and the Red Deer Rebels early on, and it sounds like he really enjoyed his time in the WHL. You might be asking how a kid from Newfoundland got to play in the WHL? Well, he moved to BC and suited up for the Quesnel Millionaires as a 14 and 15 year-old in order for the Americans to draft him! Terry has some funny stories from being a lanky 14 year-old kid playing against older guys in Quesnel, and continues with some outrageous stories from his junior days.

He was drafted by the Canadiens, but he played in Fredericton for the AHL Canadiens to start his professional career where he became good friends with Arron Asham. There were a lot of friendships forged on that team, but Asham has remained a close friend and wrote one of the forewords for Tales of a First-Round Nothing! There were also a few guys that Terry met that he wasn't so fond of, and the names might surprise you. I'm not going to reveal who they are - buy the book! - but I was surprised when Terry spoke about their actions towards Terry.

If there's one thing that Terry alludes to throughout Tales of a First-Round Nothing, it's how important team success is to him. He didn't care about winning scoring titles or amassing individual trophies as much as he cared about winning the big prize. Case in point? He was out of shape when he joined Team Canada for the 2012 World Ball Hockey Championship.
When I got to Sierre, Switzerland, for the worlds, I knew I wouldn't play much, so I did what I could to help the team off the floor. I played on the fourth line with Ray Callari and Dennis Bettencourt - two beauties who played their roles well. I filled water bottles, took charge of music in the room, and made sure the boys were always in good spirits. I was a rookie again, and humbled to even be part the team.
That's the kind of message you get throughout Tales of a First-Round Nothing as it seems that Terry never forgot how important the team aspect is. In almost every story, it is Terry Ryan who is doing something crazy to lighten the mood of the team or relieve some tension. Terry never sought glory or fame which seemed to serve him well in making friends and providing him with opportunities.

Tales of a First-Round Nothing is a fantastic book with a lot of funny stories. If you've been part of a team, you'll feel like you're listening to one of the guys tell stories again as it's written in a stream-of-consciousness style from Terry's point of view. Terry has written a great autobiographical account of his life up to this point, and I thoroughly enjoyed Tales of a First-Round Nothing. Because of this, there is no doubt that Tales of a First-Round Nothing deserves the Teebz's Book Club Seal of Approval!

Tales of a First-Round Nothing is in bookstores now, and I'm pretty certain you can find it at your local library. If nothing else, head over to the ECW Press website an pick yourself up a physical or electronic copy of Tales of a First-Round Nothing!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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