The Bookshelf . . . Part 2 of 3

Bookshelf

For the past few years, I have compiled lists of books that I have read over the previous 12 months, and posted them here. With any luck, you may find an idea or two to help you get through your Christmas shopping.

Part 1 appeared here yesterday and may be found by scrolling down a wee bit.

And here is Part 2 of 3 of the books that I have read so far in 2018.

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Football for a Buck: The Crazy Rise and Crazier Demise of the USFL — If you aren’t old enough to remember the USFL, it was a spring league that actually made the NFL nervous. Until, that is, a guy named Donald Trump took over the New Jersey Generals and, like a pied piper, led the league over a cliff and into obscurity. This is a great read, full of all kinds of anecdotes and head-shaking moments. When you’re done with it, you are left to wonder what might have happened had the USFL been able to avoid Trump and had it stayed a spring league. Author Jeff Pearlman obviously had fun writing this one and it shows.

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The Force — In the world of gritty novels about those who live on both sides of the law, and even on the edge, there was Mickey Spillane. Then came Joseph Wambaugh. Now it’s Don Winslow. Winslow’s latest work, The Force, tells the story of Denny Malone of the NYPD and his partners as they transform into exactly what it is they are trying to get off their streets. Warning: There are times during The Force when you may feel as though you need a shower.

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The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye — This is the fifth book in the series that features the unique Lisbeth Salander and Swedish journalist Mikael Blomkvist. The series began with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo that was written by the late Stieg Larsson. He wrote two more — The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Next. With Larsson’s death, David Lagercrantz produced The Girl in the Spider’s Web. The latest book in the series opens with Salander in prison and goes from there, as she exposes corruption the system and Blomkvist gets another scoop for his magazine.

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Heart of the Game: Life, Death and Mercy in Minor League America — All signs pointed to Mike Coolbaugh having what it takes to play Major League Baseball. But he never was able to get into the right place at the right time. When he turned to coaching in the minor leagues, he ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time and died after being struck on the head by a foul ball. In this book, S.L. Price, a terrific writer with Sports Illustrated, weaves a story that ties so many things together, especially how fate brought Tino Sanchez, who hit the fatal foul ball, and Coolbaugh together that night in North Little Rock, Ark. This book is hard to read at times, but it also is hard to put down.

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Hockey Fight in Canada: The Big Media Faceoff over the NHL — David Shoalts, who covers the sports media for The Globe in Mail, has written a book that explains all of the intricacies involved with Rogers landing the contract as the NHL’s national broadcaster in Canada. He also explains how CBC-TV stayed involved and, in fact, ended up giving — GIVING! — Sportsnet space in its office building and on its airwaves. Shoalts also covers the crowning of George Stroumboulopoulos as Hockey Night in Canada’s host, and his departure to make room for the return of Ron MacLean, who just may be the most powerful hockey TV personality in Canada. One other thing — if you are one of those hockey fans who wonders why the national sports networks force feed you so much Toronto Maple Leafs stuff, well, Shoalts explains that, too.

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A Legacy of Spies — Author John le Carré has spun another gem that includes old favourite George Smiley and a cast of characters from the British Secret Service, all of whom know their way around the Cold War. The focus of this book is Peter Guillam, who had worked closely with Smiley but now is retired . . . until a letter arrives.

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Lightning Men — Author Thomas Mullen follows the early careers of Lucius Boggs, Denny Rakestraw and other black officers as they begin to integrate the Atlanta police force in the 1950s. Lightning Men is the sequel to Darktown and they really do tell the stories of what was a completely different era. Or was it?

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A Matter of Confidence: The Inside Story of the Political Battle for BC — This is the book that is likely to make aspiring journalists want to be involved in covering the political arena, at least in British Columbia. Authors Rob Shaw and Richard Zussman both have been involved in doing just that, and here they chronicle all that happened prior to, during and after the province’s 2017 election. You may remember that the Liberals won that election — both in the number of seats and the popular vote — but their minority government lost a non-confidence vote to the Green and NDP parties. This is a must-read for political junkies and, for that matter, anyone who votes.

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The Midnight Line — This is another (No. 22) in the long line of books by Lee Child that detail the wanderings of Jack Reacher. This one is Reacher — and Child — at his best. It all starts with a West Point Military Academy ring in a pawn shop in Wisconsin, and it’s a great, albeit dusty, ride from there. (Please, though, let’s not have any more Reacher movies starring Tom Cruise.) . . . If you’re a real Reacher fan, you also will want to get your hands on No Middle Name, a collection of Reacher-related short stories from Lee Child.

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Only Time Will Tell — This is the first book in The Clifton Chronicles, author Jeffrey Archer’s seven-book series that follows the lives and loves of Harry Clifton, along with family and friends. I am a sucker for books of this nature — see Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth and its sequels — and really enjoyed Only Time Will Tell. Yes, I will be reading the remaining six books in Archer’s Clifton Chronicles. (I have since read the second book in the series, The Sins of the Fathers; the third, Best Kept Secret; and the fourth, Be Careful What You Wish For. This is good escapism, and isn’t that what fiction is supposed to be?)

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Original Highways: Travelling the Great Rivers of Canada — The South Thompson River flows quietly past our home. I will never look at it the same way, nor will I take it for granted, after reading this tremendous book by Roy MacGregor, one of the great Canadian writers of this generation, who also has a lifelong love affair with the canoe. The South Thompson isn’t one that gets profiled in this book, but the Fraser is there, along with a number of other great Canadian waterways. It is stunning to read about the amount of abuse that has been foisted upon these rivers and their tributaries. But, at the same time, it is uplifting to learn there are a whole lot of people out there who care and who are working so hard to help these rivers regain their health. If you are one who cares about water and has an interest in history — and even if you don’t — this is a wonderful read. In fact, I would go so far as to suggest that our schools couldn’t go wrong by making it part of their curriculum. (There are lots of rivers out there; here’s hoping there is a sequel, or even two, in MacGregor’s future.)

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TOMORROW: Part 3 of 3.

Hamilton talks a bit about lawsuit . . . Are Chiefs all-in on this season? . . . Pats player draws six-game suspension

Deer

We had some visitors to our backyard on Friday afternoon. Two does — one with two offspring, the other with one — stopped by to say hello and see how the hedge tasted. Oh, and the two moms also sampled what’s in the bird feeders. It’s amazing how their tongues fit perfectly in the slots in the feeders.



MacBeth

G Andrei Makarov (Saskatoon, 2011-13) has been placed on waivers by Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk (Russia, KHL). In one game, he was 5.36, .786.


ThisThat

Bruce Hamilton, the president and general manager of the Kelowna Rockets and the chairman of the WHL’s board of governors, was in attendance earlier this week when the Moose Jaw Warriors held their annual general meeting.

Among other things, the Warriors, one of the WHL’s four community-owned teams, MooseJawWarriorsrevealed a profit of $704,182 for the 2017-18 season and a bank balance of $1,157,466. As Marc Smith of discovermoosejaw.com reported, that bank balance is “after the team spent $233,648 on new boards and glass at Mosaic Place.” (Smith’s story on the annual meeting is right here.)

After the formal part of the meeting, Hamilton took part in an open session that also included Warriors general manager Alan Millar and head coach Tim Hunter.

According to Smith, Hamilton provided an update on the minimum-wage lawsuit that some of the CHL’s teams are facing. If you’ve tuned in late, some past and present players are involved in a class-action lawsuit asking, among other things, that teams pay minimum wage to players. The leagues/teams are fighting the lawsuit.

“We have legislation in every province now except Alberta and Ontario,” Hamilton said, referring to legislation to exempt teams from minimum-wage laws in some jurisdictions. “We anticipate Ontario when the new premier can find time to work towards that . . . we feel confident that it will go through; Alberta, we may need to wait until there’s an election there.”

Of the possibility that the teams could lose the lawsuit, Hamilton said: “It’s sad because if it came to be, it would really impact a lot of other sports and amateur athletics in Canada.”

According to Smith, Hamilton also said: “We’re confident that in the end, we’ll succeed, but how long it takes is the thing that probably wears people out a bit. But we can only do what we’re asked to by the courts and in the end our plan is to be successful and save the amateur status for the players.”

What I don’t understand is this . . . major junior players aren’t amateurs. They just aren’t.

Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines amateur as “one who engages in a pursuit, study, science or sport as a pastime rather than as a profession.”

Over at dictionary.com, it’s “an athlete who has never competed for payment or for a monetary prize.”

Another online definition: “A person who engages in a pursuit, especially a sport, on an unpaid basis.”

By those definitions, there are few, if any, true amateurs left in our sporting world.

Major junior players already receive a stipend of some kind so they aren’t amateurs, something with which the NCAA obviously agrees.

So why not bring an end to all of this by negotiating a settlement, making certain that players receive, if not minimum wage, at least something from merchandise sales and cash cows like the World Junior Championship and Memorial Cup tournament?

If you haven’t already, pick up a copy of the book written by former NCAA and NBA basketball player Ed O’Bannon. It’s title is Court Justice: The Inside Story of My Battle Against the NCAA.

Yes, comparing the CHL and its teams to the NCAA is in a lot of ways comparing apples and oranges. But O’Bannon’s book is all about the rights of a player to control his likeness — including in computer games — and there are similarities, for sure.

By the way, Smith’s piece on the hot-stove session is right here.


The WHL’s three other community-owned teams are the Lethbridge Hurricanes, Prince Albert Raiders and Swift Current Broncos.

The Raiders held their AGM on Aug. 21 and declared a loss of $168,430 for 2017-18, after losing $250,850 in 2016-17. The Raiders made the playoffs last spring, but lost a seven-game first-round series to the Moose Jaw Warriors.

The Hurricanes’ AGM is scheduled for Sept. 17, with the Broncos’ on Sept. 25.

A year ago, the Hurricanes announced a profit of $737,710 for the 2016-17 season. In 2017-18, they reached the Eastern Conference final for a second straight season.

For 2016-17, the Broncos announced a profit of $135,922. That came after reaching Game 7 of a second-round playoff series. In 2017-18, the Broncos won the Ed Chynoweth Cup as playoff champions, so it will be most interesting to see what that has meant to the franchise’s bottom line.


If early indications mean anything, it would appear that the Spokane Chiefs are all-in on SpokaneChiefsthe 2018-19 WHL season. . . . It isn’t often that a WHL team keeps two 19-year-old goaltenders on its roster, but that’s the position in which the Chiefs find themselves after dropping Campbell Arnold, 16, from their roster. . . . The move left the Chiefs with a pair of 19-year-olds — Dawson Weatherill, who has rejoined the team after being in camp with the NHL’s Boston Bruins, and Bailey Brkin. . . . Weatherill made 46 appearances with the Chiefs last season, going 26-12-6, 3.09, .893. . . . Brkin got into 23 games with the Kootenay Ice (7-12-2, 4.51, .874) before being acquired by the Chiefs. In Spokane, he was 4-2-0, 2.59, .913 in seven games. . . . Arnold, a second-round selection in the 2017 WHL bantam draft, will remain on the Chiefs’ protected list. He played last season at the Yale Hockey Academy in Abbotsford, B.C. . . .

Last season, the Chiefs, under head coach Dan Lambert, who was in his first season in Spokane, went 41-25-6 to finish third in the U.S. Division. They lost a seven-game first-round playoff series to the Portland Winterhawks.


F Brian Harris has joined the MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders after being released by the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . Harris, 19, is from Wawanesa, Man. . . . Last season, he had two goals and one assist in 49 games with the Oil Kings. In 2016-17, he had one goal in five games with Edmonton. He also played with Swan Valley that season, putting up 15 goals and 11 assists in 60 games. . . . He was an 11th-round selection by Edmonton in the WHL’s 2014 bantam draft. . . .

G Nick Sanders, 20, who was released by the Calgary Hitmen, has joined the AJHL’s Lloydminster Bobcats. Sanders missed a lot of last season due to hip problems, but he did get into 13 games with the Bobcats and four with the Prince Albert Raiders, who dealt him to the Hitmen. . . .

F Blake Bargar, 20, who played the past four seasons in the WHL, has joined the BCHL’s Wenatchee Wild. Bargar, from Torrance, Calif., spent two seasons with the Moose Jaw Warriors and one each with the Victoria Royals and Seattle Thunderbirds. In 238 regular-season games, he put up 19 goals and 23 assists.


The Moose Jaw Warriors now have four 20-year-olds on their roster after bringing in D Dalton Hamaliuk, who had been released by the Spokane Chiefs. Hamaliuk was in the Warriors’ lineup on Friday night for an exhibition game in Brandon against the Wheat Kings. He scored once in a 3-2 loss to the Wheat Kings. . . . From Leduc, Alta., Hamaliuk has six goals and 31 assists in 213 regular-season games, all with the Chiefs. . . . In Moose Jaw, he joins G Brodan Salmond, D Brandon Schuldhaus and F Tristin Langan in the competition for the three 20-year-old spots. . . . By the way, Schuldhaus will sit out the first three games of the regular season with a suspension left over from last season. He was suspended after taking a match penalty in Game 7 of a second-round playoff series with the visiting Swift Current Broncos on April 16.


D Parker Gavlas of the Regina Pats has been hit with a six-game suspension after taking a Patschecking-to-the-head major and game misconduct during an exhibition game against the host Saskatoon Blades on Thursday night. . . . Gavlas, 19, is from Saskatoon. He was pointless in eight games with the Pats last season. He had one goal and 11 assists in 35 games with the SJHL’s Yorkton Terriers. . . . The Blades won Thursday’s game, 3-2, to run their exhibition record to 6-0-0. . . . Gavlas sat out Regina’s final exhibition game — a 5-2 loss to the visiting Prince Albert Raiders on Friday night — and will miss the first five games of the regular season.


If you would like to support my wife, Dorothy, as she celebrates the fifth anniversary of her kidney transplant by taking part in the 2018 Kamloops Kidney Walk — a walk, I should point out, that she is helping to organize — you may do so right here. Thank you!


There was an interesting development in the camp of the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks on Friday. They announced that, effective immediately, they will be much more specific when it comes to reporting player injuries. In other words, there won’t be any more lower-body and upper-body injuries in the Blackhawks’ injury reports.

They were as good as their word on Friday, too, with goaltender Corey Crawford speaking with reporters about a concussion he suffered last season. He admitted that he still has symptoms, so hasn’t yet been cleared to take part in training camp.


Riley Cote played four seasons (1998-2002) with the Prince Albert Raiders before going on to a pro career that included 156 regular-season NHL games. He was an enforcer with the Philadelphia Flyers, totalling one goal, six assists in 411 penalty minutes. . . . These days, the 36-year-old native of Winnipeg is “preaching the gospel of medicinal marijuana,” writes David Shoalts of The Globe and Mail. . . . Canada will legalize marijuana in October, and Shoalts also spoke with CHL president Dave Branch, who said that his organization is educating itself about what remains a banned substance. . . . Shoalts’s complete story is right here.


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