Hickey scores a hat trick with new Canadiens book
During a writing career that spanned more than 50 years Pat Hickey has had access to some of sports’ finest moments including the triumphs and trials of the Montreal Canadiens. While the veteran sportswriter has earned acclaimed for his coverage of the Canadiens, his strength is his ability to spin a yarn and in his latest book If These Walls Could Talk:montreal Canadiens, that skill brings to life stories about hockey’s most storied franchise.
While he delves into the club’s beginnings in 1916 and recounts stories of days gone by, it is his personal recollections that made this book a must-read for any hockey fan. Hickey pays homage to the accomplishments of the team and its players but also give inside tidbits often unknown to even the most devoted follower of the Red, White and Blue.
In a chapter called Character he describes the greatness of the legendary Jean Believeu and also chronicles life after hockey for Mike Komiserek and Ryan O’bryne, a pair of players who obtained university degrees after their playing days were over.
Another chapter, aptly titled Characters, looks at players such as Dave Manson and Terry Ryan who were cut from a different mould than your average National Hockey League player. Without naming names he recalls meeting with veterans returning to the team hotel long after curfew.
The author also offers insight into what is like to cover the Canadiens on a daily basis. He gives his version on management decisions and explains why he prefers long car rides to short plane flights. Flight delays and recurring hassles with airport security have driven him literally to cities as far West as Detroit and far south as Carolina. He relates a hallowing experience in which he boards a plane in Winnipeg at 8 a.m in the morning for a hour flight to Minneapolis, normally a hour flight, and arriving at his destination 10 hours later.
An entire chapter deals with one of the Canadiens, more controversial moves, the trade of fan-favourite P. K. Subban. Titled One of These Things is Not like the Other, he explains that Subban’s over-the-top personality never appeared to be a good fit inside the Montreal locker room, that everything about him was different from his teammates and the organization in general.
Hickey considers himself a connoisseur of fine food and finding press rooms with decent pre-game meals is a must during a 82-game season. He employs what he calls the John Barltett Press Box rating system and places Carolina, Tampa Bay and Calgary (they have the same menu every night - Alberta Prime Rib) at the top while the New York Islanders are at the bottom of the list.
Of course any hockey book would be remiss without a chapter on fighting and Hickey has an in-depth interviews with Chris Nilan and Donald Brashaer who provides an interesting perceptive on the pugilistic code.
Pat Hickey will appear at the Knowlton Literary Festival Saturday afternoon at 1:30
Mike Hickey is a freelance writer and authour of Dream Big Dreams:the Jack Donohue Story and for the past 69 years has been Pat Hickey’s younger brother.
Sports writer Pat Hickey’s new book, If These Walls Could Talk: Montreal Canadiens, talks about what is was like to cover the team on a daily basis.