The Bookshelf: Part 2 of 3 . . .

Bookshelf

What follows is Part 2 of a three-part look at some of the books I have read over the past 12 months. Before we get to those, here are a handful of suggestions from the thumbnails that appeared here a year ago. If you haven’t read these, you can’t go wrong with any of them:

Big Game: The NFL in Dangerous Times, by Mark Leibovich

Bower: A Legendary Life, by Dan Robson

Football for a Buck: The Crazy Rise and Crazier Demise of the USFL, by Jeff Pearlman

Hockey Fight in Canada: The Big Media Face-off Over the NHL, by David Shoults

K: A History of Baseball in Ten Pitches, by Tyler Kepner

The Last Cowboys: A Pioneer Family in the New West, by John Branch

Scotty: A Hockey Life Like No Other, by Ken Dryden

Us Against You, by Fredrik Backman (but only if you already have read Backman’s Beartown)

Now here is Part 2 of this year’s bookshelf . . .

Gloves Off: 40 Years of Unfiltered Sports Writing: Lowell Cohn, now retired, had a lengthy career as a sports columnist with the San Francisco Chronicle and Santa Rosa Press Democrat. This is his look back at some of the people he dealt with and things that he witnessed. He doesn’t pull any punches as he writes about his career; no, it’s not a compilation of columns. I’m a sucker for books of this type, but this one really is an entertaining read.

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The Good Earth: My mother was a reader and I can remember seeing Pearl S. Buck’s The Good Earth in a bookcase at home. But I can’t explain why I hadn’t read it before the summer of 2020. Published in 1931, it follows the life of a Chinese farmer and his family through more than 50 years of change, and it always returns to the importance of owning land. It won a Pulitzer Prize so I don’t need to tell you how good it is — but it’s great. It also is the first book in Buck’s House of Earth trilogy, the other two being Sons (1932) and A House Divided (1935).

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The Gray Man — This is the book that started the legend of The Gray Man, aka Courtland Gentry. He’s an assassin who at one time worked for the CIA but most times freelances. In his debut, there is a bounty on his head, and he faces down a dozen kill squads, but not without paying a price. Author Mark Greaney has created a likeable leading man, and the excitement is palpable between the front and back covers.

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The Grim Reaper: The Life and Career of a Reluctant Warrior — With help from writer Kevin Allen, then of USA TODAY, former hockey enforcer Stu Grimson told his story in a book that came out in the autumn of 2019. The book’s title is a touch misleading because Grimson, who had about 400 fights combined in major junior and the NHL, doesn’t seem to regret any of it. That may seem a bit strange seeing as he was forced into retirement by post-concussion syndrome. Anyway, he provides some valuable insight into the thought-process of NHL heavyweights — their anxieties and fears, both for the present and the future. Grimson, who was adopted, also opens up about his personal life, including a surprising introduction to his birth father.

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The Guardians — Cullen Post is a lawyer/minister who spends more time lawyering than preaching. His lawyering is aimed at correcting wrongful convictions and the group he works with, Guardian Ministeries, has had some successes. This book, by the prolific John Grisham, is about one of those cases, and a whole lot more. It’s good Grisham and the genesis, unfortunately, was a true story, as the author informs us at book’s end.

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The Huntress — I absolutely loved The Alice Network, and The Huntress is every bit as good, if not better. Both books were written by Kate Quinn. The Huntress is the story of two young men who pursue war criminals and are brought together with a Night Witch, a woman who was part of a female crew that flew night bombing missions for the Russians during the Second World War. The hunters’ latest target is a woman in Boston, who isn’t what she is trying hard to be. There are great characters and much intrigue here. You won’t be disappointed.

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The Jordan Rules — I don’t have any idea why I hadn’t read Sam Smith’s book prior to May. I finally read it while taking breaks from watching The Last Dance, the 10-part documentary on Michael Jordan, co-starring the Chicago Bulls, on Netflix. Smith, a writer with the Chicago Tribune, details the Bulls’ 1990-91 season. As the Bulls run to their first NBA title, the reader is left to decide whether The Jordan Rules was the name for the way the Detroit Pistons played defence on Jordan or how his teammates came to feel about what dictated life with the Bulls. If you haven’t read this, it’s great. Interestingly, Smith now writes for the Bulls’ website.

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Major Misconduct: The Human Cost of Fighting in Hockey — Author Jeremy Allingham, a reporter with CBC in Vancouver, takes an in-depth look at the post-hockey lives of three former enforcers — James McEwan, Stephen Peat and Dale Purinton — and what he uncovers isn’t at all pretty. Interestingly, all three got their starts as enforcers in the WHL, a major junior league that has yet to ban fighting. This is a horrifying look at life after hockey fights and should be read by anyone involved in junior hockey — from fans to parents to executives.

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The Mighty Oak — Tim O’Connor is the fighter — goon — for the West Texas Hockey League’s El Paso Storm. But his best days are behind him and he’s feeling it all over. O’Connor, whose nickname is Oak, hasn’t yet come to grips with the fact that a hip and a shoulder and a whole let else have him headed for hockey’s junk heap. He’s hoping the Oxy and Toradol and Adderall and whatever else is available will get him through it. Then he punches a cop. Author Jeff W. Bens has written an engrossing character study of a hockey enforcer trying to find a way back into a previous life.

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Mission Critical — I had heard of author Mark Greaney and his Gray Man books, but I hadn’t ready any of them until this one, which is No. 8 in the series. Court Gentry is The Gray Man; he also is an assassin, code name Violator. In Mission Critical, Violator is working for the CIA and there is a lot of nastiness happening in a paperback that runs 706 pages. But it is readable and it is fun.

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Mohawk — I don’t know if there is an author who captures small-town life in all of its idiosyncrasies like Richard Russo. Such is the case, again, in Mohawk as he follows a handful of citizens through the routine of their daily lives and stays with them as they deal with life’s ups and downs. Mohawk was published in 1986 and it is as great today as it was then.

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Molly’s Game: The True Story of the 26-Year-Old Woman Behind the Most Exclusive, High-Stakes Underground Poker Game in the World! — A member of the U.S. freestyle ski team suffers a career-ending injury and ends up running high stakes poker games in Los Angeles and, later, in New York City. This is the story of how Molly Bloom did all of that and more. She spills some of the beans in anecdotes that involve players like actors Tobey Maguire, who comes out rather poorly, Leonardo DiCaprio and Ben Affleck, and some Russian gangsters. The obscene amounts of money thrown around in these games prove only that some people have no idea how the rest of us live. In the end, though, it all comes crashing down. Unfortunately, the book ends before the end, which is the part where Bloom pleads guilty to federal charges. You’ll have to turn to Google to find out what happened in court.

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Next: Part 3 of 3.

Silvertips add to defence corps . . . Giants and Hitmen swap veteran forwards . . . Ice trims two from roster


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The Everett Silvertips, it’s safe to say, are all in this season. Any doubt one may have had about that was erased on Wednesday when the Silvertips acquired Russian D Artyom EverettMinulin, 20, from the Swift Current Broncos.

The Silvertips gave up D Alex Moar, 17, in the exchange, while also getting back an eight-round selection in the WHL’s 2021 bantam draft.

The Silvertips had room on their roster for a 20-year-old and an import, so Minulin fills both of those spots. The import spot was available because F Peter Melcher, a freshman from Slovakian, is, as general manager Garry Davidson put it, “currently unavailable to play.” Melcher was listed on this week’s WHL roster report as being out indefinitely with an upper-body injury.

Minulin has yet to play this season after having had off-season shoulder surgery. The Broncos’ roster report listed him as day-to-day.

In 206 career regular-season games, all with the Broncos, Minulin put up 126 points. Last season, he had 13 goals and 30 assists in 64 regular-season games, then added a goal and seven assists in 20 playoff games as the Broncos won the Ed Chynoweth Cup.

“Artyom Minulin is a special talent who elevates the play of his teammates,” Davidson said in a news release. “The role he’s excelled in as a high-impact defenceman played a big piece in helping Swift Current win the WHL championship last season . . .

“He carries a tremendous reputation as a defenceman with an extremely hard shot, deft touch with the puck, and acumen to excel in all three zones.”

F Sean Richards and D Sahvan Khaira, a teammate of Minulin’s for the previous two seasons with the Broncos, are Everett’s other 20s. The other import on Everett’s roster is sophomore F Martin Fasko-Rudas, a Slovakian.

Moar was pointless in four games with the Silvertips. From Prince Albert, he was a fifth-round selection by the Silvertips in the 2016 bantam draft.

Last season, with the midget AAA Prince Albert Mintos, Moar had six goals and 23 assists.

The defending-champion Broncos, who have the 22-team WHL’s poorest record (1-14-1), SCBroncosstill are carrying nine defencemen. They are next scheduled to play Friday against the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes.

The Silvertips (10-5-0) lead the U.S. Division, by one point over the Spokane Chiefs (8-4-3) and two on the Tri-City Americans (9-4-0). Everett entertains Tri-City on Friday, but Minulin isn’t expect to play until sometime next week, once immigration issues get sorted out.

Meanwhile, G Max Palaga, 18, who was acquired by the Silvertips from the Kamloops Blazers earlier in the week, has arrived in Everett and practised with his new team on Wednesday. He joins Dustin Wolf as healthy goaltenders on the Silvertips’ roster.


The Calgary Hitmen and Vancouver Giants got together on Wednesday and swapped a Calgarypair of disgruntled forwards.

The Hitmen acquired F James Malm, 19, and an undisclosed conditional selection in the 2020 WHL bantam draft in exchange for F Tristen Nielsen, 18.

Malm, from Langley, B.C., led the Giants in goals (9) and points (15) in 13 games. He hasn’t played since suffering an undisclosed injury in a game against the visiting Portland Winterhawks on Oct. 20. The Giants’ weekly roster report lists Malm as being out day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

On Sunday, however, Malm asked Vancouver general manager Barclay Parneta to trade him.

A fourth-round selection by the Giants in the 2014 bantam draft, he has 134 points, including 48 goals, in 179 career regular-season games.

Malm could make his Calgary debut on Friday against the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers.

Nielsen, from Fort St. John, B.C., was selected by Calgary in the first round of the 2015 Vancouverbantam draft. He was in third season with the Hitmen when he chose to leave the team and ask for a trade.

This season, he was pointless in five games; he didn’t play in seven games after asking to be moved. Last season, he put up 19 goals and 16 assists in 49 games in a season that was partially derailed by a wrist injury. In 2016-17, as a freshman, he had three goals and four assists in seven games.

Nielsen arrived in Ladner, B.C., on Wednesday afternoon and is to practise with his new team today.

Nielsen is expected to be in Vancouver’s lineup on Saturday when they meet the Kamloops Blazers in Langley, B.C.

Steve Ewen of Postmedia has speculated that the Giants, under new head coach Michael Dyck, are playing a more structured game, one that Malm felt didn’t suit his game. . . . Ewen has more right here on this trade.


The Kootenay Ice apparently has released two veteran players. According to the WHL’s Kootenaynewweekly roster report, D Sam Huston and F Brendan Semchuk no longer are with the team, and both have been dropped from the team’s official roster. . . . Huston, 19, is from Brandon. He was in his third season with the Ice, and had scored once in 12 games. In two previous seasons, he totalled three goals and 13 assists in 107 games. The Ice selected him in the ninth round of the 2014 WHL bantam draft. . . . Semchuk, from Kamloops, was the 10th overall selection by the Vancouver Giants in the 2014 bantam draft. They later dealt him to Edmonton and the Ice acquired him from the Oil Kings on Sept 27, giving up a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2020 bantam draft. Semchuk, 19, had two goals and three assists in 14 games with the Ice. In 159 career regular-regular-season games, he has 23 goals and 30 assists. . . . Huston last played on Friday, while Semchuk is shown on the scoresheet as having played Tuesday night against the Broncos in Swift Current. Interstingly, that game will have been played well after the weekly roster report was posted on the WHL’s website.


Patti Dawn Swanson covered WHL teams in Winnipeg for the Tribune back in the day, and now blogs at pattitherivercityrenegade.wordpress.com.

On Thursday, she offered up these thoughts on a possible move by the Kootenay Ice to Winnipeg . . .

I have fond memories of riding the iron lung with Gerry Brisson, Muzz MacPherson and the Winnipeg Clubs/Monarchs in the 1970s, so the prospect of the Western Hockey League returning to Good Ol’ Hometown is intriguing.

I’m skeptical about it working, though.

If you missed it, Mike Sawatzky reported in the Winnipeg Free Press that the Kootenay Ice are having a rough go of it in Cranbrook, B.C. Average attendance is 2,307, lowest in the WHL, and the town’s mayor, Lee Pratt, told the Cranbrook Daily Townsman this: “With the fan support they are getting right now it’s not a viable operation.”

The Green Bay Committee held a town hall meeting in support of the Ice (on Oct. 24), and they’ll gather again tomorrow night (Thursday) in the hope they can corral 500-600 new season-ticket subscribers to save the franchise. Failing that, team owners Greg Fettes and Matt Cockell might be inclined to pull up stakes and head east.

That begs questions, though. To wit:

Would they be better off in River City?
Would a WHL franchise operating out of the University of Manitoba attract 2,000 or more customers?
If an average head count of 2,307 can’t work in Cranbrook, how can it possibly work in Winnipeg?
Would the arrival of a WHL outfit strike the death knell for Winnipeg Blues of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League?

Remove the Manitoba Moose of the American Hockey League and I’d say Fettes and Cockell might have a chance in Good Ol’ Hometown. As it is, I don’t see it happening. But I hope I’m wrong.


David Michaud, who has been a familiar face in B.C. arenas for a number of years, has been named president of Keycorp Sports and Entertainment Ltd., the owners of lacrosse’s legendary Victoria Shamrocks. . . . According to a news release, Michaud will be “responsible for growing the division of the Keycorp group of companies by working with new and existing sports teams, entertainment venues, concert promoters, and more to bring professional-level promotion, ticketing, and event-day production to Victoria, and across British Columbia. He also will be working with the Victoria Shamrocks to continue the excellence in promotion and entertainment that the club has provided in the Greater Victoria area for the last 70 years.” . . . Prior to this move, Michaud spent three years with the BCHL’s Penticton Vees as director of corporate partnerships. He also was the team’s alternate governor. He also has worked with Creative Artists Agency (CAA) and with the major midget Okanagan Rockets. . . . Michaud won’t be too far removed from the BCHL in his new position. The Shamrocks play out of the Q Centre in Colwood, which has a capacity of 2,780 and also is home to the BCHL’s Victoria Grizzlies.


The Fort Sask Chiefs, a senior AAA men’s hockey team that played out of Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., has folded, at least for the remainder of this season. . . . According to a team-issued news release: “Various factors led to the tough decision that it would no longer be sustainable for our organization to continue to operate this year. With that being said, we are hopeful our hockey club be back playing senior again in the coming years.” . . . The Chiefs were 0-6-1 and in last place in the five-team Allan Cup Hockey West. Their demise leaves the league with teams in Rosetown, Sask., and the Alberta communities of Stony Plain, Lacombe and Innisfail.


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Stephen Peat was as tough as they come during a four-season career in the WHL (Red Deer, Tri-City Calgary, 1996-2000), and he maintained that reputation in a pro career that included 130 NHL games. Now he’s living in his truck or couch surfing with friends on the Lower Mainland of B.C. Jeremy Allingham of CBC News has more right here.


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