Wednesday, 20 July 2011

TBC: Don Cherry's Hockey Stories, Part Two

It's Wednesday, so that means that the HBIC Summer Project continues with another addition to Teebz's Book Club. I spoke a little about what Don Cherry was doing this summer earlier this week, and it was very coincidental since I was reading his latest book, Don Cherry's Hockey Stories, Part Two, told by Don Cherry, written by Al Strachan, and published by Random House, Incorporated. I have already read and reviewed a few Don Cherry books, including Grapes and Don Cherry's Hockey Stories and Stuff, so I felt that I had a good background in reading these next set of hockey stories that Mr. Cherry was volunteering. What I discovered was that for as much as I already knew about Don Cherry's life in hockey, there is still a lot that can be learned!

I'm pretty certain that Don Cherry doesn't need a long-winded introduction, but Al Strachan might not be as recognizable as Mr. Cherry. Mr. Al Strachan is a former columnist with the Toronto Sun, the Globe & Mail, and the Montreal Gazette. Mr. Strachan was a former panelist on the Satellite Hotstove segment of the CBC's Hockey Night In Canada, and made regular appearances on The Score highlight channel on the Hardcore Hockey Talk show with Steve Kouleas and Steve Ludzik. Mr. Strachan has been involved in hockey for over thirty-five years, and has written other hockey books such as Go To The Net over his illustrious career.

Like the stories in his first book, Don Cherry's Hockey Stories, Part Two is a great look at life in hockey from a guy who speaks his mind. Mr. Cherry holds nothing back in speaking about former teammates, guys he coached in his career, Ron MacLean, and the teams he played for in terms of how he was treated. He talks about the Bruins, the Rockies, the Rochester Americans, and a whole cast of characters that become larger than life through Mr. Cherry's stories. In the vast majority of these stories, Mr. Cherry holds the person or persons involved near and dear to his heart, but he does question some of the motives and ideas used by others on occasion.

In similar fashion to Don Cherry's Hockey Stories and Stuff, the stories are told exactly in the manner that Don Cherry speaks. It feels like Don Cherry is chatting with you rather than dictating stories for a book, and the book is written exactly how Mr. Cherry speaks when he's on Coach's Corner! The book is very easy to read because of this, and you can picture Mr. Cherry in your head talking about all of these experiences very easily since it is in his style of chatter. Honestly, I really enjoyed reading this book because of the laid-back writing style used by Mr. Cherry and Mr. Strachan.

I really liked the final two "chapters", if you can call them that, written by his two children, Cindy and Tim Cherry. The stories told by Don's kids are a little more personal in terms of showing the softer side of Don Cherry, but there are still very good lessons to be learned from these anecdotes.

"Dad is very bar-savvy. He and Ron were in a bar in New York that was owned by two brothers. During the day, you'd always get a fresh, frosted glass with each round. Then they went in on a Friday night. Dad could see things had changed. Ron would finish his draft, with Dad having two sips left in his, and order another round. They would take Ron's glass and fill it back up, and pour Dad's in a new frosty mug, then give it to Dad who would proceed to gulp down the rest and hand the guy his empty glass. Three rounds later, with Ron having the same warm glass, Dad finally had to speak up and ask Ron if he didn't see what was going on. Nothing is accidental with Dad. Everything he does has some reason or logic behind it."
Overall, Don Cherry's Hockey Stories, Part Two was a very enjoyable and easy read throughout its 262 pages. There are some very funny stories, but the vast majority explain what life was like as a career minor-leaguer and a coach before Don Cherry became the icon that he is today. I really enjoyed the stories in Don Cherry's Hockey Stories, Part Two, and the book certainly deserves the Teebz's Book Club Seal of Approval for another round of stories through the eyes of Mr. Donald S. Cherry. I highly recommend this book for excellent summer reading at its finest!

Just as a side note, a portion of the proceeds from every sale of this book will go to help support Soldier On, a charitable organization that helps Canadian Forces Personnel and their families. Soldier On "encourages ill and injured CF personnel to attain and maintain a healthy and active lifestyle. It supports these personnel in increasing their independence, in developing new skills and in achieving goals. It furnishes an opportunity for them to socialize and explore common interests, and share learning experiences". An excellent cause that deserves a little help, and all you have to do it pick up Mr. Cherry's book. That's a beauty!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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