Hockey the focus of this year’s sports books


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Hockey dominates the sports books with a connection to Manitoba this holiday season. Winnipeg Jets fans will enjoy books by former player Norm Beaudin and broadcaster Curt Keilback, while the story of the 1920 Olympic champion Winnipeg Falcons is told in two very different books by Cathie Eliasson and David Grebstad.

Beaudin, who was the first player to sign with the WHA Jets, titled his book, written with Kim Passante, The Original: Living and Life Through Hockey (Briley & Baxter). In a lengthy chapter, he relates the story his four seasons with the Jets from 1972-73 through the Avco Cup championship 1975-76 season. The many personal photos are a highlight.

Co-author Passante hopes they can schedule a book-signing event at a Jets game this season.

In Two Minutes for Talking to Myself, (FriesenPress), Keilback provides the reader with close to 200 short pieces that he calls tales and opinions garnered from his 27 years as an NHL broadcaster with the Jets and Phoenix Coyotes. His insight on the personalities involved with the Jets such as general managers John Ferguson, Mike Smith and John Paddock, and coaches Tommy McVie, Tom Watt and Bob Murdoch make the book a fun read for Jets fans. One piece, titled “It was all or nothing,” explains how he got the job with the Coyotes after the Jets moved south.

Falcons Forever (FriesenPress) could be described as “a labour of love” by Eliasson, the granddaughter of Falcons defenseman Konnie Johannesson. She used a family treasure trove of articles to tell the saga of the team’s trail to Olympic gold in Antwerp, Belgium. Biographies of the team members, including their lives after hockey, add greatly to the book. In the introduction to A Confluence of Destinies (self-published), historian Grebstad writes that his is not just a book about hockey. He calls it a story of multiple narratives that intertwine – those of Canada, Manitoba, Winnipeg, a game, and a team of seven men. Take your pick.

Kenora, Ont., is the smallest town to produce a team which won the Stanley Cup. The story of the 1907 Kenora Thistles is told by Eric Zweig in Engraved in History (Rat Portage Press). In the 1906-07 season, Kenora played in the Manitoba Hockey League against Brandon, Portage la Prairie, and the Winnipeg Strathconas. Primarily a team of local boys, Kenora added future Hockey Hall of Famer Art Ross from Brandon for its Stanley Cup challenge against the Montreal Wanderers. The Thistles won 4-2 and 8-6 in the January 1907 series played in Montreal. Two months later, the Cup went back east after the Wanderers beat the Thistles 12-8 in a two-game, total-goal series played in Winnipeg.

Wade and Todd Davison played minor hockey in Winnipeg and together for the Regina Pats of the WHL. In His Last Shift: The Playbook of Todd Davison (self), Wade writes about the journey of his younger brother, who died of a malignant cancer at age 20. Todd was an assistant coach with the midget Winnipeg AAA Thrashers when he passed in 2006.

Former Winnipegger Curtis Walker has written several books about the Jets and the WHA. In Challenge ’76 (self), he switches to fiction to tell his version of what would have happened if the 1975-76 Avco Cup champion Jets had met the Stanley Cup champion Montreal Canadiens in what he calls the World Series of hockey. Walker has ‘game stories’ written by Reyn Davis of the Winnipeg Free Press and Bob Morrisey of the Montreal Gazette, columns by Pat Doyle of the Winnipeg Tribune and Don Ramsay of The Globe and Mail, and broadcasts by Ken Nicolson of CJOB and Don Wittman of CBC. Jets goalie Joe Daley and Canadiens forward Guy Lafleur were named the outstanding players in the series. You will have to read the book to find out who won.

T. Kent Morgan

T. Kent Morgan
Memories of Sport

Memories of Sport appears every second week in the Canstar Community News weeklies. Kent Morgan can be contacted at 204-489-6641 or email:

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