Hickey scores a hat trick with new Cana­di­ens book

Sherbrooke Record - - LOCAL SPORTS - By Mike Hickey Spe­cial to the Record

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.

COUR­TESY

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.

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