Monday, November 4, 2013



Another hockey memoir from a player who had it all...then lost it because of drinking and drugs.
I can't get enough of these type of books, I loved Theo Fleury's Playing With Fire and Bob Probert's Tough Guy: My Life on the Edge, which were essentially the same kind of story. A tough hockey player makes it to the NHL, makes rookie of the year, has a bright future, then for some reason takes to drinking and drugs and gets kicked out of the league. They are a bit sad, and at points frustrating (b/c you can see where the drinking is taking them), but they are interesting reads because the lifestyle is so far removed from mine. It's like they take place in a different world.
I had no idea who Derek Sanderson was before I read this book. I vaguely knew about the success the Boston Bruins had in the 70's with players like Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito. I had no idea what hockey was really like back then.
Turns out, at least according to Derek's versions, the game sounded ten times more violent than today's games. Frequent bench brawls, stick swinging, lots of fights, and a culture of being rough & tough. That was the way to win, and that was the way Derek played. The behind the scenes stuff sounded almost unbelievable as well. They would all smoke in between periods, go out drinking when then game was done, and only workout a week before the season started.
The main topic of the book, of course, was Derek and his crazy life. Apparently, he had a knack for saying outrageous things to the media, exaggerating the fast life he lived (dating playgirls and owning a rolls royce for instance), and playing hockey with a feisty spark that caught fan's attention. He was not the star hockey player who scored the most, but, he was pretty good with his hands and gave a good show with his fists.
Underneath this larger than life personality was an insecure, fearful, pretty modest guy. Which is why, according to Derek, he started drinking. It was his way of coping with his fears. Well, the drinking kept getting worse and eventually it caught up to him. As a reader you could see it coming and knew he was going to lose it all and just wanted to shake some sense into him. As it turned out when he hit rock bottom it was worse that you'd think. On top of admitting to himself he was an alcoholic he found out he had a corrupt lawyer who was in charge of his finances and cleaned him out. So, the millions he had made were gone. Sanderson ended up living on the streets for a short time, penniless and to proud to go home and ask for help.
It took a near death experience before he found God and changed his ways. From there, the book wraps up with a brief history of his after hockey life.
This is one of those books that I'd say is good, but, only b/c I'm a hockey fan. If you are not a fan of the game, well, three quarters of the book will be mind numbing he-shoots-he-scores kind of stuff, interlaced with only brief off rink debauchery. So, I give this book a 'READ' rating for all the hockey fans out there, and a 'Do Not Read' for all the non-fans.


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