Mike Commito found himself deep in a writing rut.

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This article was published 9/12/2021 (200 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Mike Commito found himself deep in a writing rut.

He had agreed to publish and expand his PhD thesis on the history of black bear hunting in Ontario. But every time Commito felt primed to really dig in and turn his paper into a book, he'd find something else to do.

The cover of the book "Hockey 365, Second Period: More Daily Stories from the Ice" from writer Mike Commito is shown in this handout image provided by Dundurn Press. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Dundurn Press*MANDATORY CREDIT*

The cover of the book "Hockey 365, Second Period: More Daily Stories from the Ice" from writer Mike Commito is shown in this handout image provided by Dundurn Press. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Dundurn Press*MANDATORY CREDIT*

That was the case night after night.

A massive hockey fan with a burning love of the game's past, Commito had already begun writing about his favourite sport for a number of publications, and was growing his social media following thanks to daily posts looking back at key moments — and others mostly long forgotten.

Then during a family vacation to Mexico in 2017, he made a decision.

Black bear hunting was getting shuffled to the side, potentially for good.

"I realized that if I want to write a hockey book, life's too short to wait around," Commito recalled in recent interview. "By the time the trip ended, I'm on my flight back home and I'm sketching together an outline."

His book "Hockey 365: Daily Stories from the Ice" hit stores in September 2018, but the director of applied research at Cambrian College in Sudbury, Ont., only considered it the first instalment.

That paved the way for Commito's second effort with "Hockey 365, The Second Period: More Daily Stories from the Ice," which came out this fall.

The format remains largely the same: think word-of-the-day calendar — every NHL-related event is tied to a specific day of the year — but short 350-word stories hockey fans, and hockey history buffs, can read straight through or pick up and put down.

"I had been sharing a lot of hockey history on Twitter," Commito said. "It seemed to be working well. There is an audience for it."

Writing the second book was also less of a challenge than the first. After hitting on a lot of the big moments with his first foray, Commito could be more creative when it came to writing No. 2.

"There are more quirky stories," Commito said. "It's those interesting and quirky stories that everybody gravitates to."

One such anecdote in "The Second Period" is that of Terry Harper, who sued the Los Angeles Kings and the NHL for breach of contract after he was traded to the Detroit Red Wings in the 1970s.

Another involved then-Washington Capitals general manager George McPhee punching an opposing coach after an especially rough exhibition game against the Chicago Blackhawks in Columbus the year prior to the Blue Jackets' expansion season.

"It was funny because McPhee's intentions apparently were to showcase the game's better elements (to a new fan base)," Commito said. "And then he ends up becoming the only GM in league history to get suspended for fighting."

The 34-year-old Commito, who lives with his wife and two daughters in Sudbury, said filling July and August days isn't as challenging as one might think.

Sometimes a simple paper transaction opens the door, like when he wrote about goaltender Arturs Irbe signing with the Carolina Hurricanes.

"I used that to talk about his career," Commito said. "There was moment where his dog bit his hand and there were concerns about nerve damage and whether or not he would be able to play again.

"We know with the gift of hindsight the signing worked out really well."

There are, however, days that are going to get a little scarce if the book series continues with a third period and perhaps even overtime.

While the books are called "Hockey 365," there are actually 366 stories to take leap years into account. The holiday season is another issue because the NHL stopped playing games over Christmas in the early 1970s.

But the problem is usually what to leave out.

"That's the biggest challenge — knowing that you have to cut it off at some point," Commito said. "You have to resign yourself to the fact that you're not gonna be able to cover everything."

And because of the format's pick-up-put-down nature, he's quickly learned his work can wind up almost anywhere.

"People are always shy about saying, 'I bought your book and I keep it in my bathroom,'" Commito said with a laugh.

"If people are buying it and spend time with it, whether it's on the couch or on the can, I'm quite all right with that as an author."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 8, 2021.

"Hockey 365, The Second Period: More Daily Stories from the Ice." Mike Commito. Dundurn Press, 398 pages, $23.99.

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