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Saturday, 25 March 2017

TBC: A Guy Like Me

With spring upon us and the opportunity to sit outdoors on quiet early mornings with a coffee and good book, I will happily thaw out Teebz's Book Club for the summer as I want to tackle more reading. Honestly, I'm not planning on reading books filled with numbers and stats like a texbook; rather, I want to read stories and biographies from the people in and around the game. I'm happy to do that today as Teebz's Book Club is proud to review A Guy Like Me, written by John Scott and Brian Cazeneuve, and published by Howard Books. You're probably veyr aware of who John Scott is either through his NHL All-Star Game appearance or his pugilistic manner on the ice, but what is one of the most feared fighters of our generation like off the ice? A Guy Like Me gives an entirely new look into John Scott's life behind the scenes, and I guarantee your thoughts on him will change once you've read through his story.

From his biography on the Simon and Schuster site, "John Scott is a Canadian professional ice hockey player in the National Hockey League. Scott previously played for the Minnesota Wild, Chicago Blackhawks, New York Rangers, San Jose Sharks, Buffalo Sabres, Arizona Coyotes, and Montreal Canadiens of the NHL. Scott was born in Edmonton, Alberta, but grew up in St. Catharines, Ontario. He graduated from Michigan Technological University with a mechanical engineering degree. Scott and his wife Danielle have four daughters: Eva, Gabrielle, Estelle, and Sofia."

From his W. W. Norton & Company biography, "Brian Cazeneuve is a staff writer at Sports Illustrated, where he has been covering the Olympics since 1995. His freelance work has appeared in numerous national publications, including Time, People, the New York Times, Washington Post, NBC Sports, and others. He lives in New York City." His work with Sports Illustrated has taken through many sports and many stories in his coverage of the numerous Olympic Games he's been assigned to, and his stories are well-read as features in the magazine.

Enforcers in the NHL always carry some stigma. For hometown fans, they are the larger-than-life cartoon-like characters who thwart evil and keep the peace - sheriffs on the ice, if you will. For fans in opposing rinks, they are the villains we like to boo and razz for their seemingly limited hockey skills. John Scott had these reputations, but it wasn't always like that for the undrafted defenceman who turned into a forward.

As a youngster, John loved hockey like most kids do. He played in some good programs in Ontario before catching a break with Michigan Tech. John had the option of staying in the Ontario junior ranks, but his father thought it might be better for John to pursue an education in case this hockey thing didn't work out as he had dreams. John went off to Michigan Tech where he began his pursuit in mechanical engineering. Don't ever say enforcers don't have brains!

It was there where he met Danielle, his future wife and rock in the relationship, but she didn't really give him the time of day when they met. John was determined not to let Danielle get away, and his dogged determination turned into a relationship with Danielle. Meanwhile, both were pursuing their degrees and John was playing a little hockey as well! John goes through his college career - the ups and downs - in playing for Michigan Tech until he finally signed his first pro deal with the Minnesota Wild after showing significant improvement in his defensive game!

John's NHL career has taken him through a number of cities including Chicago, Buffalo, San Jose, Phoenix/Glendale, and Montreal, but the bonds he has formed with teammates over these stops are unbreakable. His appreciation for Brent Burns, Joe Pavelski, and Joe Thornton in San Jose is unwavering. His love of playing in Chicago with Toews, Kane, and Keith show through in spades. The appreciation and respect he has for coaches such as Todd McLellan, Dave Tippett, and Joel Quenneville is undeniable. But at the end of the day, John's always been a family man and there is no team he protects and works harder for than the team he has with Danielle and his four daughters.

I always find the conversation about other tough guys from tough guys to be interesting. John goes over a number of names that he engaged with during his time in the NHL, and I find the conversation about who fought well, who followed the code, and who didn't to be fascinating.
"Tom Sestito is another guy who fought quite a bit, but his chief weapon was his mouth, which never really closed. A few of the guys referred to Sestito as Fantasy Camp, because that's how they viewed his presence on the ice. He once took twenty-seven penalty minutes in one second of playing time. He ran around, and anytime I asked him to fight, he was always saying, 'Oh, my wrist hurts, my hands hurt, sorry, I can't.' And the next thing you knew, he was fighting someone else. The one time he did fight me, it was because I buried one of his guys and he came up and jumped me from behind. I have no respect for that. It's how he runs his mouth. Most of the guys in the league are respectful, but to me he is not one of those guys."
Sestito, who was recently suspended for four games for a check from behind on Winnipeg's Toby Enstrom, probably isn't on the Scott's Christmas card list. I respect John for speaking about Sestito, though, because it goes to show what kind of enforcer he is, and it's clear he plays with no honour when it comes to the code. This just adds more evidence that Sestito's role is not a hockey role.

Overall, I'm glad I made time to read A Guy Like Me. I knew a little about John Scott's hockey career, but some of the stuff that he experienced and saw behind the scenes during his career is definitely worth the read. Scott won't wow you with gaudy stats or significant historical achievements, but he was an honest player, a hard worker, and he's a true family man when it comes to his teammates or his own family. A Guy Like Me is a great read and is suitable for most readers due to a few PG-rated words, but A Guy Like Me absolutely deserves the Teebz's Book Club Seal of Approval!

Find A Guy Like Me at your local bookstores and libraries, and read John Scott's story. You won't be disappointed!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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