Saturday, 10 October 2015

TBC: The Lost 10 Point Night

When growing up, it's hard to pinpoint reasons why we choose our heroes and idols. For hockey fans, it could be a player who is the offensive leader of the team or a goaltender who never seems to allow a goal. It might be the quiet leader on the ice who wears the captain's "C" or the defensive defenceman who logs a ton of minutes in shutting down the other team's superstar. It becomes more interesting when authors track down their favorite players and write a story about the experience. Teebz's Book Club is proud to present such a book today in The Lost 10 Point Night: Searching For My Hockey Hero written by David Ward and published by ECW Press. Mr. Ward goes searching for the Maple Leafs player he idolized as a child in Jim Harrison only to find a lot more than just what he remembers from Mr. Harrison's days on the Leafs. This biography is a pretty telling story of a former player's struggle in hockey, out of hockey, and everything in between.

From the ECW site, "Moving freely between his hometown of Kitchener, Ontario, and his adopted home of McCallum, Newfoundland, David Ward is an author, teacher, columnist, and part-time lobster fisherman." He feels that Ryan O'Reilly is the most interesting player in the league today, Game Two of the Summit Series was his favorite game due to the Frank Mahovlich shorthanded goal, and he's a firm believer in Canada's passion for hockey.

The Lost 10 Point Night is a bit of a strange title until you realize that Mr. Ward is referring to the WHA game in which Jim Harrison scored ten points three years prior to Darryl Sittler recording ten points in an NHL game. The funny part is that Jim Harrison played on a line in Toronto with Darryl Sittler before Harrison made the jump to the WHA. It was in 1970 that a young David Ward began to idolize the shaggy-haired, long-sideburned, tough-as-nails, third-line centerman, and it was recently that Mr. Ward set out to find his childhood hero and what had become of him.

The Lost 10 Point Night: Searching For My Hockey Hero is written from a different perspective that what I am used to in that Mr. Ward doesn't talk about his journey, but talks to many old-time hockey players about Jim Harrison's journey in hockey from hockey in Estevan to Edmonton to Boston to Oklahoma City to Toronto to the WHA and back to the NHL. There are a ton of players who share their own stories, but tell the stories of Jim's playing days to fit together a puzzle of a high-scoring, tough-as-nails junior and minor-pro player while taking us through some of the trials and tribulations that Jim Harrison faced in the big leagues.

Of course, The Lost 10 Point Night: Searching For My Hockey Hero sees Mr. Ward spend a lot of time talking to Jim Harrison, and his name is a name you should know. If you've been lucky enough to read Russ Conway's Game Misconduct, Mr. Harrison's battle against the NHLPA at a time when Alan Eagleson controlled virtually everything in hockey is well-documented by Mr. Conway. We find out in The Lost 10 Point Night: Searching For My Hockey Hero that Mr. Harrison's lawsuit still hasn't been settled, and the man has been out of hockey for four decades. There's a lot of discussion about the pain he's still in and the suffering the NHLPA has caused, and it's a very interesting perspective from Mr. Harrison's point of view.

Mr. Harrison tells Mr. Ward how he wound up with #7 in Toronto, a number that had been worn by a few previous Maple Leaf greats before he arrived.
"Most of us didn't get a choice what number we wore," he explained. "They just gave you whatever number they wanted, and you were lucky to have it. But the reason I switched from 12 to 7 was that Tim Horton wore number 7 when I arrived in Toronto, but when Tim was traded, Keon and Armstrong decided there had to be this big presentation to me at practice, of number 7. Because it had been Max Bentley's number when he played with the Leafs in the '40s. The thing about Bentley was, he'd been one of the best stick-handlers ever, and as Keon and Armstrong liked to point out whenever they had an audience, I had a reputation for being one of the worst stick-handlers of all time. So those jackasses thought it would be funny if I wore number 7. That's when everyone started calling me Max."
Honestly, The Lost 10 Point Night: Searching For My Hockey Hero is an outstanding look at Jim Harrison's life in and around hockey from his early days right up to the present where he and his current wife, Caroline, are looking at starting a farm near Jewel Lake in British Columbia. It's not Mr. Ward's telling of Mr. Harrison's story, but rather Mr. Harrison and his peers and teammates recounting all the stories that Mr. Harrison lived through. From his days in junior hockey to his time in the pros, from suspected child molesters to battles with the NHLPA, from injuries to successes, Mr. Ward and Mr. Harrison cover it all in The Lost 10 Point Night: Searching For My Hockey Hero, and it's a fascinating read about one's career that no one remembers, including a ten-point night in the WHA. I really enjoyed the story over the 145 pages presented in the book, and The Lost 10 Point Night: Searching For My Hockey Hero deserves the Teebz's Book Club Seal of Approval!

You should be able to find The Lost 10 Point Night: Searching For My Hockey Hero at your local library or bookstore. It won't take older readers long to read, but it's a great look at a player's life and career from the 1970s. If you have a Leafs fan or a hockey history buff in your circles, The Lost 10 Point Night: Searching For My Hockey Hero would make for a great gifts for the fan!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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