Tuesday, 20 October 2015

TBC: The Guy On The Left

There are a pile of people in this world who'd I like to know more about when it comes to their careers, how they got started, and how they ended up where they are today. Today's subject is no different, and it seems he has a ton of fun doing his job in so much that I'm not sure it can be classified as work. Teebz's Book Club is proud to review The Guy On The Left, written by James Duthie and published by Viking of the Penguin Group. This autobiographical look into Mr. Duthie's life takes you from his childhood through to his work on TSN and all his stops in between. It's a great look at one man's life in front of the camera with a bunch of self-deprecating humour and funny stories intertwined.

You probably already know James Duthie from his work on TSN covering the CFL, NBA, and the NHL where the title of this book comes from as he sits on the left side of the NHL panel's desk. What you may not know is that James is a three-time Gemini Award winner and a Canadian Screen Award winner for Best Sportscaster in Canada for his work on NHL on TSN. James has also been involved in four Olympic Games coverages, has produced some excellent articles for TSN's website, and has conceived and performed in a number of viral videos that can be found on YouTube that have been nominated for awards. In other words, James Duthie is a talented and creative guy if you weren't already aware!

The Guy On The Left is a very intimate look into Mr. Duthie's life. He speaks of growing up in Ottawa and moving often as his father was a member of the RCMP. Eventually, he returns to Ottawa in a suburb called Blackburn Hamlet where his love of sports begins to take over. He plays full NHL, CFL, and MLB seasons by himself - the precursor to fantasy sports for kids in the 1970s and 1980s. He has a pretty great childhood by all accounts, and he even plays a little hockey that involves one of the all-time great robberies for awards in human history. Except James may be slightly hyperbolic in describing his skills which makes it all the more humorous.

He discusses how he got into journalism, where he got his big break, how he missed on TSN the first time, and how he turned down Sportsnet twice. He talks of broadcasting during intense tragedies such as Brian Smith's tragic and unnecessary death and the events of September 11, 2001. He talks about the highs of being in Ottawa as a sports broadcaster when Ottawa was granted an NHL expansion franchise and getting to go back to Ottawa with TSN to call an Ottawa Renegades game after having grown up watching the Ottawa Rough Riders. And, of course, he details how he arrived to being the guy on the left on the NHL on TSN panel.

There are a pile of funny anecdotes from the various things that Mr. Duthie has seen in his life in The Guy On The Left. One such anecdote involves Bob McKenzie, his TSN cohort, who doesn't appreciate the drop-in on a set from imbibed fans. Mr. Duthie writes,
During the first NHL outdoor game in Edmonton in 2003, a blitzed wannabe stuntman dove onto the set as Gord Miller, Bob McKenzie, and Pierre McGuire were on live. The set collapsed. (Temporary TV desks aren't exactly built to hurricane-proof standards.) The guy rolled off and was gone before Bob could hurt him. And make no mistake, Bob would have hurt him. In Carolina at the 2006 Stanley Cup final, a fan jumped a fence and ran across our set. We weren't on air at the time, but a tape of the moment still exists, and it is pure gold. He bumps into a startled Bob, who gives him a hard elbow as he runs away, and then yells, "I'll kill you, you f&%$ing &%$#!"

Bob is one of the best men I know. He will do anything for you. Unless you run on his set while he's working. Then all bets are off. Kevin Pratt, one of our long-time NHL on TSN videotape wizards and the official collector of our many bloopers, plays the tape for us every few months for kicks while we're killing time before a game. I always watch Bob and howl, and Bob always chuckles at me. Because while he is threatening to kill the guy, I don't even bother to look up from my notes, pressing the talk-back button to our production truck to calmly say, "We might want to get some security." By now, I'm used to drunken fools who want to be on TV, and Bob's readiness to pummel them. I still expect to look at Twitter one day and see a tweet from Bob that reads something like, "Stamkos signs eight-year extension in Tampa. Oh, and I just beat a man to death with my iPad. Confirmed."
Stories such as that fill The Guy On The Left, and I found myself laughing out loud at some of them. Honestly, if you've seen Mr. Duthie on TV, you know he has an excellent sense of humour. If you haven't seen his work, this book will give you a good idea on just how funny Mr. Duthie is and how good he is as a story teller.

The Guy On The Left doesn't have any secrets in it. Mr. Duthie used hard work and a little luck to find his way into his current position, but make no mistake that success only came before work in the dictionary when it comes to James Duthie's career. He weaves wonderful, funny stories about the major moments in his life, and there have been many ups and downs. For anyone who is sitting at home and thinking that they could do what James Duthie is doing, there might be a sliver of truth to that. However, to have done what James did to get where he is is truly a story worth reading. Because of this, The Guy On The Left is a no-doubter when it comes to receiving the Teebz's Book Club Seal of Approval!

Pick up The Guy On The Left at your local book store or find a copy at your local library. Being that it's a new publication this month, there may not be many copies left when you arrive at your bookstore or library, so get down there ASAP to grab a copy of The Guy On The Left!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

**Excerpt from The Guy on the Left by James Duthie. Copyright © 2015 James Duthie.**

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