Trillium Book Award Author Readings June 16

On Writing, with Mike Brophy

 
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Mike Brophy

Mike Brophy is a hockey analyst for Rogers Sportsnet and one of Canada's most respected voices in the sport. He is also the author of the recently-released My First Goal: 50 Players and the Goal That Marked the Beginning of Their NHL Careers (McClelland & Stewart).

Mike talks with Open Book about 35 years of hockey coverage, the Beatles and the book that made him laugh out loud.

Open Book:

Tell us about your book, My First Goal: 50 Players and the Goal That Marked the Beginning of Their NHL Careers.

Mike Brophy:

Having covered hockey for 35 years, I still get an envious chill watching a player score his first NHL goal. It is the dream of many youngsters to make it to the NHL, but to actually score a goal in the best hockey league in the world is, to many, unimaginable. No two first goals are the same and that was what inspired me to write this book. I assumed every player remembered his first NHL goal, but I actually stumbled across a few players (Hall of Famer Larry Murphy and Peter Mahovlich) who simply could not recall theirs. Regardless, I was able to tell the stories of 50 players — some high profile stars and others who are not as well known — and their first NHL goal.

OB:

What is one of your favourite memories of a game or goal?

MB:

I have many fond memories, but one I?ll always cherish is being in the stands at the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium when Gilbert Perreault of the Buffalo Sabres broke the NHL record for most goals in a season by a rookie. It was a magical moment, to be sure. Incredibly, I attended a game at Toronto Maple Leaf Gardens the following season when Rick Martin, also of the Sabres, broke Perreault?s record. I saw the same record broken in back-to-back seasons. Pretty cool. Of course the Sidney Crosby overtime goal in the gold medal game of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver wasn?t bad, either.

OB:

What is your favourite place to watch a game?

MB:

There is nothing like being in Madison Square Garden in New York City watching the Rangers play — especially if they have a good team. It is electric. I had the good fortune of being at MSG June 14, 1994 the day the Rangers captured their first Stanley Cup in 54 years. Although I have covered Stanley Cup finals, Olympic Gold medal games, the final of the World Cup of Hockey and Memorial Cups, nothing comes close to the feeling of that day. I had predicted the Rangers would win the Cup prior to the start of the season even though they failed to make the playoffs the year before and took some heat for doing so. Vindication! As for junior hockey, where the arenas are generally smaller and more intimate, when I covered the Peterborough Petes (for 14 years) I loved watching hockey in both the Sudbury and Windsor Arenas. Both were old barns; completely lacking in all the modern conveniences of today?s cookie cutter rinks, but isn?t that what junior hockey is all about?

OB:

What makes a great hockey story?

MB:

For me the sign of a great hockey story is when a writer is able to tackle a well-known subject and bring something new to the table. I love to be able to take a reader someplace they otherwise have no access to. As the senior writer for The Hockey News for 17 years, that is what I tried to do.

OB:

Did you have a specific readership in mind when you wrote your book?

MB:

I actually think My First Goal is a book for readers of all ages. I took special care to include players from various eras of hockey. From oldtimers such as Gordie Howe and Jean Beliveau to young stars such as Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews and the Staal brothers, Eric, Marc and Jordan. I also got the two best players who have ever played in the NHL, Wayne Gretrzky and Bobby Orr. Even the names that may not be recognizable to some, such as Dean Morton, Jim Vesey and Fred Perlini, have great stories. In fact, some of the best stories about first goals are from the lesser known players.

OB:

What?s the best advice you?ve ever received as a writer?

MB:

When I was in my mid-20s, I was covering a junior game between the Peterborough Petes and Oshawa Generals. The Petes, the team I covered for 14 years, were having a particularly bad night on the road and I happened to mention this to an Oshawa-based writer sitting beside me in the press box. He looked at me and said, ?Don?t say it; write it.? Simple, yet excellent advice. I prided myself on never being a ?homer? when I covered he Peterborough Petes and I have always maintained, I don?t really write the stories; the players do. I simply write what I see.

OB:

If you had to choose three books as a ?Welcome to Canada? gift, what would
those books be?

MB:

My favorite book by a Canadian author is The Fencepost Chronicles by W.P. Kinsella. Not many books can make me laugh out loud, but this one certainly did. It won the Stephen Leacock Award for humour in 1987. Endurance, Shackleton?s Incredible Voyage is my all-time favourite book. Though it is not Canadian, I have never read a book that better illustrated leadership and courage. In fact, it was required reading for my two sons. Finally I?d give a newcomer to Canada the most recent edition of The NHL?s Official Guide and Record Book. Gotta be able to keep up with the hockey talk at the water cooler.

OB:

What is on your nightstand to read next?

MB:

I am a passionate reader of fiction and Nelson DeMille and Greg Iles are my favourite authors. However, The Mammoth Book of the Beatles is on deck. It is a collection of stories about and interviews with The Beatles. I read everything I can get my hands on about The Beatles. I recently finished Peter Doggett?s You Never Give Me Your Money which is an account of The Beatles finances prior to and following their breakup. Fascinating!


Mike Brophy is a hockey analyst for Rogers Sportsnet, a syndicated columnist and twice-weekly analyst for The Team 990 in Montreal. Brophy covered junior hockey for the Peterborough Examiner for 14 years and served as a senior writer with The Hockey News for 17 years. The Hamilton, Ontario, native has been writing about hockey for more than 30 years and won six Ontario Newswire writing awards for his coverage of junior hockey. Brophy won the Benjamin Franklin Award for best new voice for his book Curtis Joseph: The Acrobat. Mike has collaborated with Ralph Mellanby, renowned Executive Television Producer of Hockey Night in Canada, on two bestselling books The Legends of Hockey and Let The Games Begin. Brophy and his wife, Marilyn, live in Pickering, Ontario, and have three children, Chase, Blair and Darryl.

For more information about My First Goal please visit the McClelland & Stewart website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

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