My contribution to Give ’em the Lumber #4 is a translation from a Swedish book entitled Pittstim. Pittstim was published in 2008, nine years after the book Fittstim proved highly influential on Swedish discussions about gender politics. Fittstim roughly translates as “swarm of pussies” – the title was chosen after a prominent Social Democrat had used it in reference to the party’s women’s club. Fittstim was a collection of texts by young women reflecting on various aspects of female identity and gender relations. Pittstim – or “swarm of cocks” – understands itself as a belated contribution to the debate. It collects essays of young men who openly and self-critically analyze male socialization.

The first essay in the book is called “Piss Showers and the Pressure to Fuck: Guys and Sports”. It was written by Axel Gordh Humlesjö who grew up as an aspiring hockey player in Sweden’s far north. While the text paints a critical picture of hockey culture, it expresses an enduring love for the game itself. Having gone through similar experiences in European football locker rooms, I found the piece moving in its description of how unhealthy social expectations can ruin the joy and beauty that each athletic activity promises if executed in an atmosphere of respect and solidarity. In blunt terms, the text reminds us that in order to enjoy hockey – or any other game – we have to reclaim it from the assholes, idiots and bigots. In times when North America’s most famous hockey mom is a reactionary anti-abortion warmonger – oh, the hypocrisy! – it shouldn’t be too hard to drive the point home.

Today Axel works as a TV journalist. The following excerpt from his essay appears with his kind permission.

Gabriel Kuhn

– – –

We grew up in the team. Hockey was our source of inspiration and our boxing sack. During matches, our opponents became “pussies”, “fags” and “whores”. This was expected of us. We spurred each other on and got slapped on the back by our coach: “Come on, boys! This is no goddamn girls’ game!”

Some of the fathers on the stands were even more enthusiastic than us. They called the referees “cunts” and us “sissies”. When one of us took some time out after getting a puck or a stick in the groin, our coach Stefan would grin and say: “Stop whining. It’s not like you have much there anyway.” This was his favorite comment.

When I was on the ice, I got compliments from Stefan, but as soon as we were in the locker room it was a different story. Stefan checked our underwear and if he figured it wasn’t sweaty enough he accused us of laziness. I also got a hard time for being skinny: “What the fuck happened to you, Axel? You almost disappear without your gear!”

The older we got the tougher the coaching became. When puberty made us more spiteful towards each other, Stefan would be the worst of all. Today I believe that he saw himself when he looked at us and that he wanted to relive some of his own experiences as a youth. His attitude set the standard for the entire team.

Many of us suffered from the pressure we were exposed to. We felt imprisoned and wanted out. But we continued with what we were doing. Coaches, players and parents united to create a code of honor. A norm that told us how to behave as hockey players and as men. To call others “pussies”, “fags”, “whores” and “sissies” meant to identify the qualities that diverted from the ideal – an ideal that no one dared to challenge.

When Olof became our coach things changed. Olof was never our head coach but he was in charge once during spring season. One time he overheard us teasing Micke for his penis size. Olof got mad and told us to leave the skates at home for our next training session and to bring pen and paper instead.

That Monday we met at a café. Olof told us about his hockey career. As a talented young player he got a contract with a big club in Stockholm. All went well until he began drinking too much. “I thought that the team would support me, but no one would openly talk about feelings or problems. In the end, the booze dragged me down. I had to stop playing hockey. I became depressed because I didn’t know what to do instead. I had invested all I had into hockey and I wasn’t good at anything else.”

We looked up to Olof. He showed us respect and took us seriously in a way that other adults never had. He demanded the same from us that he demanded from his older players. Our behavior on and off the ice suddenly mattered. Olof could talk about our perception of girls, about the downsides of machismo and about the importance of treating your team mates with respect. The word “fag” was prohibited in the locker room. “A person’s sexual orientation is no one else’s business,” he used to say.

We would have ridiculed and scoffed at such lecturing before, but when Olof said something we listened. It felt great to know that he was there for support. Since he didn’t pick on us from above, no one felt the need to pick on anyone below. There was no demand to be particularly tough either. Olof was the first who broke with the hockey code I knew; he showed that there was a different way of being a man.

The following season everything went back to normal. Olof was gone and the old style returned. We, the best players on the team, owned the locker room and defended our territory with piss showers and fag jokes. We had no adult to point out our mistakes and soon forgot Olof’s principles.

We liked each other, but the closest we came to expressing this were towel snaps. To hang out meant to compete over who was best and toughest. At some point it just wasn’t fun anymore. I began to realize that the team was turning me into a despicable human being. Homophobe and brutal in a way I actually abhorred. I had no idea about who I was or how I wanted to be. The only thing I knew was that this wasn’t it.

It was a hard decision to make. After all, all this had been my world since I was very young. I left the team right in the middle of the season. I still loved playing hockey, but I could no longer deal with the way a hockey player was supposed to behave.


Hockey fights are back in the news this week as Georges Laraque, in response to the recent death of Don Sanderson, has advocated rule changes to protect players from hitting their heads on the ice during fights. Laraque wants a penalty for anyone who fights without a helmet and for the linesmen to intervene when a player’s helmet comes off during a fight; “…if a guy throws a punch at a player without a helmet, he should get an extra penalty for that too.”

NHL Player’s Association Director Paul Kelly has been trying to reduce primetime dustups  between enforcers, “If it’s a staged fight between two super-heavyweights who, perhaps, arranged it the day before the game, I’m not sure those are fights we need to continue to have in the sport.” Kelly admits, however, that a clear majority of players believe that fighting serves a purpose in hockey. He sees its place too, “If the fight arises out of the spontaneity of the game, the emotion or the need to protect a teammate or yourself from an unclean hit, then that’s a natural part of the game that ought to remain.”

I’m glad to hear Kelly pipe up on this issue in a way that doesn’t give fodder for the usual media handwringing about fights in the NHL. As most players will tell you, fighting is not the only kind of violence that happens on the ice. In fact, it often reduces the potential for seriously violent situations like the Bertuzzi incident. The amount of concussions and serious head injuries caused by players hitting their heads on the ice during fights is miniscule when compared to hits to the head, boarding, elbows, and hits from behind. Kelly’s comments also widen the usual debate to include the  conditions that lead to fisticuffs. To do that  you need to consult the black book of hockey and the Jarrko Ruutus, Jordan Tootoos, Sean Averys, and Scott Hartnells of the game who put its lessons into practice on the ice.

The t.v. announcers use cliche after cliche, describing them as “throwing players off their game,” “being a pest,” or “getting in a goalie’s kitchen;” we all know we’re really talking about late hits, illegal stick work, knee on knee trips, goaltender interference and the whole circus sideshow of self-promotion from clowns like Avery. However you describe this type of player, they need to be held accountable either by the referees or by the players themselves. It’s a way hockey mirrors problems in our whole society; some players compete with respect for the game and a code of honor toward their fellow players and some bums don’t. In hockey it’s all typified to me by a situation in the 2006 Winter Olympics (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nAZIMkNMTCw). Jarrko Ruutu skates all the way across the ice to elbow Jaromir Jagr’s head into the boards. He earns a match penalty and an ejection. Celebrating Olympic sportsmanship as he’s escorted off the ice he waves goodbye to the injured Jagr.

Now I’m not Jagr’s biggest fan -especially after the man that wears number 68 to remind people of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia goes to play in Russia for a huge pile of rubles –  but this is a situation where Ruutu clearly should have had his ass kicked.

Hockey is a physical-even violent-sport, but there are legitimate and illegitimate types of force on the ice. The main challenge for Paul Kelly and the NHL’s decision-makers is to rule out illegitimate violence without reducing legal hits, body checks , and the ability of players to stand up and defend themselves.

A lot of players have called for the abolition of the Instigator penalty so the rats of the league will have to drop the gloves when they’ve stepped over the line. I’m sympathetic to Neal Sheehy’s views on this subject which he published under the title, The Systematic Erosion and Neutralization of Skill and Play-Making in the NHL (http://www.sheehyhockeyllc.com/SystematicErosion.php).

The one situation where I think the Instigator penalty is useful is when players try to start fights after legal open ice hits or body checks against themselves or their teammates. Hits and checks are an integral part of the game on both sides of the ice, both offensively and defensively. They are legal physical plays and the players shouldn’t have to fight to use them. These are fights arising out of the emotion and spontaneity of the game as Kelly says but there’s still something problematic about giving equal time in the box for an instigator and someone who was just defending himself after a legal hit. Maybe drop the instigator penalty but give 5 for fighting to the attacker and 2 minutes for roughing to the player who was attacked.

I’m with Kelly when he wants to drop the pro-wrestling bullshit among the brotherhood of enforcers. I’m more interested in seeing the “agitators” made accountable. Douglass Murray is one of the best physical players and legal hitters in the league. He wears a visor to protect himself from high sticks and the type of eye injuries that have threatened the career of Saku Koivu. Murray plays like a man and he plays by the Code. I remember watching his first NHL game when he came up from the minors to join the Sharks. Although i don’t remember what the situation was which led to the fight, I do remember him taking his helmet off before the opposing player could throw a punch and slice his hand on Murray’s visor. Laraque’s rules would disallow Murray from defending himself or his teammates.

No one wants to see someone die on the ice from a concussion. No one wants to see players seriously injured either. The instigator rule was added to protect players from the intimidation of goons. Its unintended consequence, however, has been that it’s allowed the cheap shot artists to run amok. As a result we’ve probably had more serious head injuries from hits by the headhunters than from fights. While we’re discussing fighting in the NHL, announcers like Matthew Barnaby are talking about the “energy” the pests add to the game. Meanwhile Sean Avery is trying on a new suit with the Hartford Wolfpack.

its-a-living1)What an embarrassment opening day was this year. Alanis Morisette? Def Leppard? NHL Faceoff “Rocks.” When are we going to see the Hansons show Gary Bettman how to rock? What’s your take on music in the NHL? Do the players have better taste than the marketing douchebags? I noticed Darren McCarthy wearing a Def Leppard t-shirt when he passed the Cup to Joe Elliot (show some respect & put it rightside up ya tool!)

They’re about as sharp as a sack of bricks. They completely missed a great opportunity to make me wealthy. Bettman’s grand idea, “Hey don’t come up with a marketing plan that suits hockey, let’s change hockey to suit our marketing plan”. There’s a reason David Stern recommended Bettman to the NHL, to get rid of the competition!

2)I saw an interview with Joe Thornton back in his Bruins days. He was wearing a Dropkick Murphys t-shirt. Have the Hansons had any recognition from the players?

Yeah, a little from what I’ve heard. When we opened the All Star Break in Vancouver (invited because the Canucks media man was a fan so I’m told) I was recognized by a couple of the players. WE had a video that played around the jumbotrons back then.

3)Not only did we have the Def Leppard debacle, but the Flyers allowed Sarah Palin to drop the puck on opening day. I don’t know if you Canadians have been paying attention but you’ve got a real level 1 retard for a neighbor.
Is this lady what hockey moms are like? Shouldn’t Alaska be Canadian anyway?

Only the ones that become slimey self-serving fascist politicians, yunno the liars and the cheats we have to vote for. She is a disgrace to any self-respecting hockey mom, well, actually to any mom, OK to all of us!

4)Player/Coach Reggie Dunlop’s number was raised to the rafters in Syracuse a few weeks back. It’s time for a ceremonial viewing of Slapshot. Have you guys had any contact with the Carlsson Brothers? Wasn’t there a Hanson Bros-Hanson Bros project in the works, a hockey fight video with your music as soundtrack?

Was he really? Fucking awesome. We honor him each night with our little rendition of “Get It Right Back”. Great man. I have never met the Carlsson brothers. I think they might just kick the shit out of us for horning in on their schtick ha ha ha Yes, there was some discussion of a rock em sock em hockey video but their lawyer never got his shit together. Their lawyer does everything “Hanson”, they just show up and put you in a headlock. It’s amazing the icons that movie created. I think Steve coaches minor hockey.

5)Speaking of fisticuffs does anyone in the new NHL live up to the legacy of Dave “Tiger” Williams?

No one will touch that record! Why isn’t he in the Hall of Fame? For shame, for shame. Musta beat up the wrong guy somewhere along the way. Several years ago he got into trouble up here for punching out someone in the parking lot after an old timers game.

6)Would you be willing to share a beer recipe?

Of course I would. I only wish my How to Brew video could start the beer tsunami that would wash away the Budweisers and Coors of this world.

(Editors Note: this will be posted when the Hansons return from their proselytizing tour of the lower territories. The are currently spreading the Canadian gospel in the southern states)

7)What’s your take on the 2010 winter olympics in Vancouver?

Conjestion. Traffic night mare. A bunch of pounsy elitists whining about the ethics of sport…all the way to the bank. Oh yeah and some of the best hockey the rest of the world will see, ha ha ha

8)There’s talk of expanding the NHL to Europe. It’s almost a Hockey cold war against the Russians and their KHL. You’ve just taken a major tour across the pond. How do you feel about European Hockey?

They’re pretty good figure skaters. A double axel will get you a good contract on the KHL I guess. I’m shivering in my boots. You talk to any hockey player anywhere in the world and they’ll tell you the Stanley Cup is the holy grail and that will never change. The best want to compete with the best and Russian Oil money will not change that. But European crowds are great and loyal fans there’s no doubt about that.

speaking of the  2010 olympics, how about a puck rock festival in vancouver?

Sounds like a good excuse to down a few!



Hello out there, we’re on the air, it’s ‘Hockey Night’ tonight.
Tension grows, the whistle blows, and the puck goes down the ice.
The goalie jumps, and the players bump, and the fans all go insane.
Someone roars, “Bobby Scores!”, at the good ol’ Hockey Game.

OH! The good ol’ Hockey game, is the best game you can name.
And the best game you can name, is the good ol’ Hockey game.

And that’s how Stompin’ Tom’s classic “The Hockey Song” begins.
But wait, who’s Stompin’ Tom? You Canadian readers probably know, but us non-canucks, probably not. Born in 1938, Stompin’ Tom Connors is the Johnny Cash of Canada- a cultural icon who came out of the country & folk scene. Like Cash, he usually talks his songs rather than singing them. Still playing at age 70, Stompin’ Tom got his nickname from his percussion technique- stomping his foot on a piece of plywood while he & his backing band strum away!

Stompin’ Tom was taken away from his mother & placed in an orphanage in New Brunswick. Eventually he was adopted by a family in Skinners Pond, Prince Edward Island. A couple years back I had a chance to visit P.E.I. (the smallest province in Canada) and made a pilgrimage to Skinners Pond. It’s not much more than an intersection and a road that meanders down to the shores of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. Until a few years ago, there was a Stompin Tom museum in the town’s old schoolhouse. (Fun fact: If you type “Skinners Pond, Prince Edward Island, Canada” into Google maps a little paragraph about Stompin’ Tom pops up!)

He ran away from Skinners Pond repeatedly, and began to train hop & hitchhike across Canada when he was 15. For the next couple of decades he wandered- guitar in hand- working seasonal jobs and never settling down. As Stompin’ Tom’s website tells it, he was short of money for a beer so a bartender in a hotel gave him a drink in exchange for a song. A 13-month residency at that hotel followed, along with a string of 7-inches and the beginning of a legendary country & folk career.

Connors is a fierce Canadian patriot. To U.S. subversives like me, the idea of a Canadian patriot is almost comical- but it’s serious and clearly heartfelt, judging from his actions (more on those later) and from songs like “Believe In Your Country,” which dates from the 1970s doldrums & was written to commemorate Canada’s 125th birthday:

I know the times are changing, factories closing down
But if you stay and help us, we can turn these things around
But if you don’t believe your country should come before yourself
You can better serve your country, by living somewhere else

Unlike the stereotypical “love it or leave it” U.S. super-patriot though, Stompin’ Tom also idolizes the Blue Berets- the military forces deployed under the flag of the United Nations. These peacekeepers have always included many Canadian soldiers, and he’s proud of both the troops and their mission:

We are the Blue Berets
We’re marching on our way
With another UN flag to be unfurled
Till the factions are at bay, and peace is on its way
We’ll display our Blue Berets around the world

Can you imagine Merle Haggard back when he wrote “Fighting Side of Me” & “Okie From Muskogee” having the same point of view? (To be fair, since those 2 songs were written in the late 1960s, Merle has drifted leftwards, eventually coming out against the Iraq War on his 2005 “Chicago Wind” record)

Stompin’ Tom is bilingual and while at least one song criticizes politicians for dividing “our land” into French & English, his criticism doesn’t extend to the French-speaking citizens- his love song “She Don’t Speak English (And I Don’t Speak French)” pokes fun at the situation.

He celebrates Canada through name-checking every province- and possibly every single town in Canada- in songs like “Alberta Wind” “Sudbury Saturday Night” “The Petersborough Postman” “Long Gone To The Yukon,” and “Name The Capital,” which features a god-awful children’s chorus guessing which capital matches which province. But Stompin’ Tom’s not just a capital “C” Canadian songwriter- he’s also clever & sweet, with songs like “Song of the Cohoe” (a love song about Cohoe Salmon), “Lady K.D. Lang” (about 90s alt-country star & fellow canuck k.d. lang), and “Bud The Spud” (one of his hits, about a P.E.I. long-distance potato trucker).

He also memorializes infamous tragedies that occurred across Canada across the decades, including “Wreck of the Tammy Anne” (about a ship wreck that killed a group of young people) & “The Bridge Came Tumblin’ Down” (about a 1958 collapse of Vancouver’s Second Narrows Bridge that killed 19 workers).

He amplifies his dramatic spoken-delivery with songs like “Tilsonburg”- which describes tobacco picking in the fields of Tilsonburg, Ontario. The song starts out with “Tilsonburg? My back still aches when I hear that word!” and describes everyone’s worst possible job, in excruciating detail.

But Stompin’ Tom’s at his best with light-hearted songs like “The Snowmobile Song,” where he uses the snowmobile as a phallic substitute (or maybe that’s just my gutter mind at work):

We tip the glass to the northern lass for she won’t let ya kneel
She’d rather squeal -…on a snowmobile…
Ya win the race and you see her face and you know that she must feel You’ve got a real… good snowmobile

Or “A Real Canadian Girl,” which includes:

She loves the way it feels, driving snowmobiles
And laughing at her dates when they don’t know how to skate
She knows her hockey games and the players of the world
She’s an all Acadian, northern lady
And a Real Canadian Girl

She’ll brave the Yukon nights and dance to the northern lights
Then she’s off to ski in the mountains of B.C.
In the summer she’ll play ball
In the winter time she’ll curl
She’s an all Acadian, northern lady
And a Real Canadian Girl

Born in Philly, I didn’t hear about Stompin’ Tom until I heard the Boston all-hockey punk band The Zambonis do a country-to-punk cover of “The Hockey Song.” Soon afterwards, a buddy from the Toronto punk scene gave me a Stompin’ Tom greatest hits cd. I soon realized that Stompin’ Tom was known by pretty much every Canadian I ran into in the local hockey scene, & I started wondering why I’d never heard of him down here in the states. Turns out that his records- on EMI Canada- are not available in the U.S.- I had to do a special order through Down Home Music in El Cerrito. And no, Stompin’ Tom is not on iTunes!

It’s clear from Stompin’ Tom’s career that he’s stubborn when it comes to certain issues- his pro-Canada stance, for instance. He went further and in 1979:
“In a fit of frustration and disappointment, Tom returned all six of his Juno Awards, as a statement of protest against the Americanization of the Canadian music industry.” [www.stompintom.com]

The Canadian Encyclopedia adds that he returned the Junos in part to protest winners who no longer lived in Canada. (The Juno Awards are the Canadian equivalent of the Grammys- the music industry’s highest award.) He also entered into a self-imposed 1-year boycott on touring, interviews, and recording, although his next record didn’t appear for 9 years.

In “’Canadian Folk Music Journal’ in 1994, William Echard pointed out that Connors was ‘a major force in challenging the assumption that Canadian themes are less worthy than American or blandly “universal” ones’ (volume 22, 1994).” (www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com)

Eventually he signed with EMI Canada in the late 1980s/early 1990s and reissued most of his original studio albums. In 1993 he declined his induction into the Canadian Country Hall of Fame (home of other Canadian stars like Hank Snow, Wilf Carter, and Gordon Lightfoot). As far as I can tell, he’s never played south of the border in the U.S.

Stubborn, clever, hokey, patriotic, and obsessive about Canada, Stompin’ Tom is a true musical and cultural icon- even to a non-Canadian like me!

– Jesse Luscious, goalie and non-Canadian

The Hockey Song (Tom Connors)
Hello out there we’re on the air it’s hockey night tonight
Tension grows the whistle blows-& the puck goes down the ice.
The goalie jumps and the players bump and the fans all go insane
Someone roars “Bobby scores!” at the good ol’ hockey game

Oh the good ol’ hockey game is the best game you can name
And the best game you can name is the good ol’ hockey game

2nd period, Where players dash with skates aflash, the home team trails behind
But they grab the puck and go bursting up and they’re down across the line
They storm the crease like bumble bees, they travel like a burning flame
We see them slide the puck inside -It’s a 1-1 hockey game!

3rd period, last game in the playoffs, too!
Oh take me where the hockey players face off down the rink-
And the Stanley Cup is all filled up for the chaps who win the drink,
Now the final flick of the hockey stick and a one gigantic scream-
The puck is in! The home team wins! The good ol’ hockey game!



Dave “Tiger” Williams got his nickname when he first started playing hockey, after he refused to wear a mask when he was goalie. He was Tiger Williams from then on, and everybody knew his name. He never wanted to be a peacemaker. All he wanted to do, since the time he was, in his own words, “an egg in my mother’s stomach,” was to win hockey games. Born on February 3, 1954, the fourth child out of eight, to a poor family in the wilds of Weyburn, Saskatchewan, Tiger was a battler. His mother died when he was fourteen, and that catalyzed the young Tiger to become the hockey player loved and feared by so many fans, players, and zamboni drivers across North America. Drafted 31st overall in 1974 by the Toronto Maple Leafs, he went on to set many National Hockey League records—in penalty minutes. Dave carved his own groove in the sin bin. The NHL was no picnic for a mucker like Tiger. He had difficulty doing anything, including fighting, at first. Keith Magnuson of the Chicago Black Hawks sucker punched him so bad once, it forced him to the minor leagues. He described this initial shift in the League as “being marooned in whale shit.” Given that whales are aquatic mammals, the scope of Tiger’s scatological metaphor reveals the depths to which he had fallen. You couldn’t keep Tiger Williams down for long. Tiger is an honest guy, and he doesn’t feel the need to hide behind things like ethics or decorum. He freely admits he played for the money, but he was never a “floater.” He knew what had to be done. While on the Vancouver Canucks, Tiger was playing against the Buffalo Sabres, and their notorious coach, Scotty Bowman. Tiger had bad blood with Bowman for some time, and even felt that the Sabres’ coach had “no class.” Well, there’s only one thing a hockey player can do when confronted by an opponent with no class (besides biting him on the nose during a fight, which is what he did to Dave “The Hammer” Schultz of the Broad Street Bullies). Bowman had a habit of yelling at players, both friend and foe, during games. Really inflammatory things, like “they’re gonna send you to the minors.” Bowman had a reputation around the league as a yapper, and in the heat of battle, Tiger took a stand. Bowman finally sealed his own fate. He yelled directly at Tiger, and Tiger did what Tiger does. He calmly skated over to the Sabres’ bench, and hit Scotty Bowman in the head with his hockey stick. Tiger didn’t plan to do this—it just happened. He even pulled back and didn’t use full force: “I would say there was twenty five percent force in the hit.” Tiger didn’t break his twig. Some think that he tried to deny that this happened. But Tiger completely admits to the charge. To run away from a fight was not in Tiger Williams’s playbook. In the end, Tiger Williams retired on top. He is the all-time leader in NHL penalty minutes at 3,966—not counting the 455 minutes during the playoffs. Tiger was an enforcer; he made sure that the skilled offensive players on his team were able to do their work without fear of being roughed up by the other team. He did his job, and he did it well. In the end, Tiger reflected on the Bowman incident: “Bowman had been behaving like a jerk, and I just thought, ‘Oh shit, let’s give him the lumber.’”

—Chris Ganchoff

the whiskey robber laces 'em up
the whiskey robber laces ’em up

An Interview with Julian Rubinstein, Author of The Ballad of the Whiskey Robber

1) With the publication of your book last year, you’ve probably made Attila Ambrus the most famous Hungarian hockey player in the world. The others are a pale reflection: Tamas Groschl (1999 draft), Levente “Szuperman” Szuper (2000 draft), and Janos Vas (signed a 3 year deal with the Dallas Stars farm system). Attila was a “walk-on” player for Budapest’s Ujpesti Torna Egylet (UTE). how did he “make the team?”

JR: That’s one of the funniest stories. He’d played almost no hockey before, but was in some miserable job at a glass factory. Out of the phone book, he called the best pro hockey team in the country, said he was a goalie from Transylvania and asked for a tryout. The story is in the book of course but there is actually a great hockey team in Transylvania, where he’s from. So they gave him a tryout–and he was so terrible that he actually was given a job with the team because no one could believe someone that bad at hockey would actually want to play for them so badly. But the job they gave him was: janitor. Among his duties was to drive the Zamboni. Eventually he did play his way onto the team, becoming, perhaps, the worst hockey goalie in the history of the sport. (He once gave up 23 goals in one game.)

2) At the end of the book you mention that UTE bought a whiskey robber banner which says “Harjra Viskis!” Would you translate that for us and comment on how Attila is treated by his former team & teammates? Is the banner on display at the rink? Have they retired his number?

JR: The banner translates roughly as “Tally Ho, Whiskey Robber!” It’s sort of a salute to him. It does fly over the rink to this day as far as I know. I don’t know if they’ve retired his number.

3) Attila must be a fan favorite…

JR: Attila definitely seems to be a fan favorite, in a very specific way. There was a very interesting thing that happened in Budapest. A popular soccer coach from a different club was fired and fans gathered outside the home of the general manager to protest. As the gathering got more raucous, the fans broke into a chant of: “Attila Ambrus! Attila Ambrus!” So he has become a real symbol of defiance and protest, which after all is what his robberies symbolized to people.

4) Attila won an award for sportsmanship from the hungarian national team. He seems to have brought the same courtesy to bank robbing. Did he bring his experience on the ice to the bank or his experience in the bank to the ice rink?

JR: Did he win a sportsmanship award? I can’t remember. But regarding which experience helped the other, it was definitely hockey first. That was his first love and he trained like a maniac. And he did of course realize that his sports training would augment his other career. He was also a maniacal competitor on the ice before he ever started robbing, so he also brought that mental focus and determination to robbing. They were absolutely connected.

5) One of the things that you touched on is the effect that access to cable televised nhl games had on the fans of the hungarian league – they learned that their players were lousy and that teams in other places only play outdoors as a novelty. There were other changes to the hungarian version of the sport imported from the west. Jeno “Bubu” Salamon, the UTE goon, had a canadian education on the ice…

JR: Yeah, it’s funny (and sometimes horrifying) how television really influences so much. But of course when cable television became much more widespread in the 1990s and they were able to watch the NHL much more, it was rather depressing for many of the Hungarian players. There was no money in the sport there. And indeed one thing that caught on, partly from TV and also from the importing of a couple of Canadian players, was a new way of fighting. In the past, the Hungarian players used to fight with their gloves on. But they soon switched over and went all out, gloves off. And there were some pretty crazy fights.

6) Does Attila follow the NHL?

JR: I know he tries to. I don’t think he’s able to watch much from his prison cell. (There is a TV but i don’t think they get a lot of channels.) He does follow it at least somewhat in the papers.

7) Did any NHL players come to Hungary during the lockout?

JR: That I really don’t know.

8) Attila’s team used to retire after games to an establishment called the “Thirsty Camel.” Is that a Budapest hockey bar? Do the players have drinks with fans like in Slapshot?

JR: The Thirsty Camel certainly used to be a Budapest hockey bar, particularly for his team. Each team sort of had their own hangout. And sure, not only did fans hang out with the players, but if you were lucky enough to be in the bar when Attila was playing, you would likely have been drinking for free. He often bought the entire bar drinks.

—Interviewed by Chris “Healthy Scratch” Dunlap

toasting the whiskey robber on his birthday

toasting the whiskey robber on his birthday

Crossover between The Jocks ™ and The Punx ™ is a lot more common then you’d think. Most of the crossover comes in the more macho subgenre of oi music, since many of those bands came out of working class Britain and were fanatical soccer—er, football fans. In terms of punk bands doing sports songs, the attitudes of most punk bands from the 70s through the 90s was anti-sports (see classics like the Dead Kennedys Jock-O-Rama). Despite the anti-sports attitude of most US punk bands from the late 1970s onwards, the seeds for hockey to meet up with punk in North America were already sown with the release of 1977’s hockey movie Slapshot starring Paul Newman.

Most obviously, the thuggish Boston band Slapshot toured starting in the 1980s with hockey sticks they brandished on stage, although they generally stayed away from writing hockey-specific songs. Their logos have included a broken goalie mask and an altered Boston Bruins logo, and many of their art and album titles have hockey references. Much later, two punk bands from the Northeast dropped the gloves lyrically: The Zambonis and Two Man Advantage. Personally, I like the Zambonis better—after all, they have a song that uses the Zamboni as a metaphor for love! They also cover the classic Stompin’ Tom Connors song The Hockey Song (Stompin’ Tom is the Johnny Cash of Canada). Two Man Advantage are harder and punkier. The Zambonis, like many of the other bands mentioned here, have played at hockey games both for charity and for profit.

Getting back to Slapshot the movie, I’ve gotta assume that if you’re reading this, you’re familiar with the 3 Hanson brothers—but just in case let me describe them. Totally nerdy (complete with thick taped-up glasses), the Hanson brothers are childlike geeks off-ice, but on-ice they’re goons who kick ass. In one unforgettable scene, they instigate a huge brawl before the game even starts! Personally, I think the attractiveness of the Hanson Brothers for the punx is summed up by these lyrics by The Freeze from their classic song Broken Bones, after the narrator is beaten up by rednecks at a party:

The broken bones begin to mend and the bruises slowly fade.
I feel perversely satisfied with the friends I haven’t made.
I’ve since taken up karate and I’ve bought myself a gun.
Next time they want to beat up a punk I’m going to have myself some fun!

There’s a band called The Hanson Brothers who rock, they’re a Ramones-style side project of Canadian legends Nomeansno. With three partially-themed hockey records under their belt, they are one of the most prolific sports-themed punk bands in terms of sheer number of songs about a particular sport. (Like The Zambonis, they also cover Stompin’ Tom’s Hockey Song) Live, they wear hockey equipment and the artwork combines Ramones-style graphics and ice hockey.

Staying in the Great White North, it’d be criminal for me not to mention another long-running Canadian punk band—DOA. Like soccer and the British oi scene, hockey seems to permeate the culture enough that there’s not even a need to have a lot of songs specifically about the sport. DOA sold DOA hockey jerseys for years before putting out any tunes that were actually about hockey. The first one may have been 2000’s Give ‘Em The Lumber from their Festival of Atheists release. Another long-running Vancouver band, The Smugglers, have their own ice hockey team which plays in the Exclaim Cup, an annual ice hockey tournament against other Canadian underground bands in Toronto.

The Hanson Brothers are also the organizers of the Puck Rock compilation series which came out in 1994 and 2000, and featured hockey songs from bands from both the US and Canada, including The Hanson Brothers, DOA, SNFU, Muscle Bitches, Huevos Rancheros, The Riverdales (aka the Screeching Weasel Ramones side project), Pansy Division, The Smugglers, and a cover of wrestler Freddie Blassie’s Pencil Necked Geek by DOA leader Joey Shithead with Canadian indie popsters Cub. Pansy Division—the famous homocore band from San Francisco—mention hockey in both their ode to the mullet Hockey Hair and their ode to Canadian beefcake Manada!

Heading into the late 1990s and back south of the Canuckistan border to Beantown, this next band probably needs no introduction to fans of current punk rock or oi. The Dropkick Murphys have done baseball (Tessie), boxing (Warrior’s Code), and hockey (Time To Go). They’ve used Boston Bruins soundclips as far back as the 1997 version Caps And Bottles. Their song Nutty is the Boston Bruins theme song, and they’ve played during and after Bruins games and done charity work for the team.

Speaking of punk or oi songs that are officially sanctioned by a major league team, the last on my list is The Boils, from Philadelphia. The Flyers heard the band’s ode to the team, (Broad Street) Bullies, and asked them to write a new anthem for the team. That became the title track of their new 2007 CD-EP on TKO Records, The Orange and The Black. Now, the band is playing at Flyers games in addition to their regular shows.

This is a short look at hockey and the punk rock, but these are the most prolific and talented hockey-loving weirdoes. I’m sure I’ve missed some bands, but hockey seems to be one of the only sports that punk & indie bands write a lot of songs about. Oddly enough (or maybe not so oddly since these others are SO mainstream) more popular sports in the US like American football, baseball, and basketball have little or no representation in the scene.

– Jesse Luscious, goalie

P.S.- Don’t be fooled: the Minnesota indie band Hockey Night has absolutely zero songs about hockey. What a waste of a name!

The Goon Speaks


A Review of Goon: The True story of an Unlikely Journey into Minor League Hockey by Doug Smith and Adam Frattasio

I love Slapshot just as much as the next guy. I love the fact that Doug Smith even played a few games for the legendary Steve Carlsson (Steve Hanson in Slapshot) with the Johnstown Chiefs. I love the down & out stories of life on the road in the broken-down ECHL tour buses and the after-game bar room camaraderie of the enforcers. Despite all that I just couldn’t shake the feeling that Doug “the Thug” Smith, in his trajectory from boy’s club brawler to minor league hockey goon, was just—well, kind of a dick.
Not only did this guy get his start initiating fights with people at pick-up games but at the end of his 2 or so game career in the AHL he retired to his real calling as a Masshole and a Cop in the shopping malls of the greater Boston Metropolitan area. A word from the author bio: “During his spotted career as an enforcer on the ice, Doug also became an enforcer off it. He has worked as a police officer over the last 10 years and is currently a patrolman for the town of Hanover.”

Now, I’ve played with cops, I’ve even played with an FBI guy. It is the considered judgement of the Give ‘Em the Lumber editorial board that there just isn’t any room in hockey for the Bad Lieutenant. That said, here’s how the story unfolds. Dougie and his childhood buddy “Gator” (a “literary” amalgamation of his co-writerAdam Frattasio and Frattasio’s brother Jon—wtf!?!) used the punching bags in between watching hockey fight videos at the Hanover Police Boy’s Club. One fine day, young Doug had an epiphanie.“I had an unusual desire to fight, not only in the ring, but also at functions, parties, and later as a nightclub bouncer.” Yet it wasn’t a promising career as a nightclub bouncer that would set Doug on a vision quest—it was the dharma of Dave “the Hammer” Schultz.
There was only one problem, however. Doug could sure kick ass, but he didn’t know how to skate. Determined to skate while kicking ass, Doug went to the ice rink every weekday morning. He was soon able to join the Boston adult amateur league. Here was his first shot—Beer League Hockey— but “Nobody there was prepared to deal with a 6-foot-1, 250 pound goofball like me, who was just looking for an opportunity to fight…I was asked not to return.”
At this point Doug got a big break and somehow joined a Pro-Am summer league team. “I quickly became the scourge of the Pro-Am league with my physical style of play, and it didn’t take long before everyone figured out that my singular purpose for being there was to fight. This concept didn’t sit well with most of the other guys in the league who played simply to stay in shape for their upcoming college season or pro training camp.” After antagonizing the league, Doug got a shot at a bona fide pro player when he dropped the gloves & had his ass handed to him by Bill Whitfield, a minor league player with the Virginia Lancers of the All-American Hockey League.
Always a glass-half-full achiever type, Doug snatched victory out of the jaws of defeat. A scout was at the game who was impressed with Dougie’s approach to the game—he offered Smith a tryout for the Carolina Thunderbirds in the ECHL. The rest is near history. You can read the book for all the play by play glory as Doug Smith becomes Doug “the Hammer” and ultimately Doug “the Thug” Smith. From his first game with the Carolina Thunderbirds where he registered 10 minutes in fighting majors and assisted unintentionally on a Curtis Brown goal, to his final bout with Frank “the Animal” Bialowas—against major odds and good sense all around, this mouthbreather realized his dream 110%. At times this is a funny book. On some level it competes with the “participatory journalism” of George Plimpton in Open Net. Just don’t believe the self-serving bullshit about Doug the Thug “policing” the game.

Smitty, In the Box! 5 for fighting! 2 for instigating!

Reviewed by Chris “healthy scratch” Dunlap #40.

What North Americans have to understand is that when you grew up in Europe in the 1970 and 80s, hockey didn’t mean the NHL. Not predominantly, at least. Sure, we knew of the NHL, and every now and again there’d be some 30-seconds footage on one of our sports’ programs (remember, this is before cable and satellite TV), and we also knew that the players there earned much more than our players did, and we knew that they claimed that they played the best hockey there was; but: that was all over there, some mythical hockey world of superstars and money and smaller rinks—while we had our own hockey over here: national federations that often enough struggled to keep a professional league going, European cups that nobody followed—and then what hockey to us Europeans was really all about: the World Championships! (Or, every four years, the Olympics, which for a while doubled as the World Championships). So, every April or May, once the national leagues were finished, it was hockey time in Europe for a good two weeks, and even folks who never watched s single puck netted during the winter would tune in to see, well, usually another triumph of the USSR. Between 1963 and 1990 the USSR won 22 out of possible 28 World Championships/Olympic titles. Not a bad record by pretty much anybody’s standards, I’d say. Way into the 1980s there were only eight teams in the Group A finals (there were Groups B, and C, and eventually D finals too, but no one ever paid attention to those, unless you happened to come from a country that didn’t have a good enough team to ever be in a Group A consisting of a mere eight nations—like Austria), and seven of them were basically always the same: besides the USSR, that meant Czechoslovakia, Sweden, Finland, Canada, the US, and West Germany (Canada making an exception in the early 70s when they didn’t play at all due to amateur/professional regulations). The eighth spot (that condemned a team to relegation to Group B) was filled, in rotation, by teams like Holland, Poland, Italy (all of which have meanwhile disappeared into hockey nothingness), or East Germany (which, well, has pretty much disappeared into nothingness altogether). At that time, not many Europeans played in the NHL yet. Like, the first Soviet player ever to play professional hockey in North America was Sergei Priakin who played a rather unadorned season for the Calgary Flames in 1988/89. This meant that when the World Championships rolled around, most of the European teams brought together the best players the respective nations had to sport—hence the excitement for the European hockey fan to watch the tournament. It was a different situation as far as the teams from Canada and the US were concerned: Along the lines of the infamous North American tendency to ignore whatever might be happening outside “the New World” (and of course following the logics of corporate ownership in sports), no NHL team would have ever considered releasing a player who was still engaged in NHL playoff battles for some insignificant “World Championships” (like, which world? over in Europe? you gotta be kidding!—should we be surprised that the Canada Cup was renamed the “World Cup of Hockey” in 1996?), especially when they were played in places with names as unpronounceable as Södertälje, Canazei, or Turku. (Sure, none of the players would have wanted to do that anyway. But it’s not their fault. They are only caught up in the machine.) So this meant that the Canadian and US-American teams usually consisted of NHL players from teams who hadn’t made the playoffs, and that the officials would leave a few spots on the roster open so they could register and fly in a couple of further stars on short notice should their teams lose a play-off series while the World Championships were already underway. Sometimes this meant that really big names did play at the Championships too Gretzky, Lemieux , Lindross: they all made an appearance at some point. (Even then the Russians couldn’t be beaten of course. Hmm, did that mean that the best hockey possibly wasn’t played in North America after all? No—the NHL cracks were just tired after a long season. Right! Like the European players hadn’t played any hockey in the winter prior to the tournament. But we don’t wanna get into petty arguments here.) Anyway, many, many things have changed since then: Due to cable and satellite TV, the ever-increasing number of Europeans drafted into the NHL (a process very much sped up by the collapse of the formerly “communist” Eastern European countries), and the glorious wonders (ya, right!) of free market dynamics, globalization, and neoliberalism, the NHL has become a global (well, hockey global) phenomenon; the World Championships Group A has expanded from 8 to 10 to 12 to 16 teams (more teams, more games, more money); and the Olympics separated from the World Championships, ‘cause since the US basketball “Dream Team”of the Barcelona Olympics (amateurism? are you kidding me? that’s so, like, 20th century!) made the NBA a worldwide trademark in 1992 (lucky the NBA still had Magic, and Bird, and Jordan then, and didn’t have to rely on “Dream Teams”coming in sixth at World Championships in their own country), the NHL figured that it too could make more money if the might of the NHL was to be presented to a worldwide audience and so it actually interrupted its season for the first time ever for the Olympics in Nagano in 1998 (where the Czech Republic still won the title— check this CNN report from the archives: “The Czech Republic’s hockey team took the swagger out of the Canadians and Americans in maybe the biggest surprise of the Nagano Games, snagging the Gold medal in a victory for the little guys.”The little guys? Jagr, Hasek, Straka, Rucinsky? Well. CNN logics, I suppose.). However, despite all these changes, one thing remains the same: the Hockey World Championships still don’t interest anybody in North America. (Actually, in regard to the righteous editor of this zine I will correct that: they don’t interest anybody in North America but the true hockey fan!) How this translates into the media coverage, for example, takes on really comical dimensions: Like, if you went on the Yahoo! Sports hockey site during the World Championships, the homepage would immaculately inform you about which games of the long cancelled NHL season would have been scheduled for today (face-off time included)—but in order to get any news on the World Championships you had to dig deep through the site’s hockey news links to eventually find a couple of game reports (proper standings, schedules, scoreboards? forget it!). So, in this sense I guess I was fortunate that, thanks to US Homeland Security protecting its nation spiritedly and dedicatedly, I was on a plane back to Europe much earlier this year than expected—just in time to catch the Group A Hockey World Championships that had returned to my native Austria after a ten year absence. And not only that: Apart from Vienna (Vienna always gets a slice of the cake, no matter what happens in Austria—it is a centralized autocratic country in that sense, no matter what they tell you), another town was blessed with the honor of hosting matches this time: Innsbruck, the Alpine metropolis (120.000 people – come on, that’s not bad! it’s in the mountains, man!) of Winter Olympics fame (1964 and—stepping in when the Colorado electorate voted down the state’s plans to finance the Olympics the IOC had awarded to Denver—1976), and, besides, the humble birthplace of these lines’ author. So, what else was there to to do than crash on old friends’ couches for a couple of weeks and try to sneak my way into the hockey stadium, right? The tournament’s facts are quickly told: The Czech Republic restored European pride by taking the title again from Canada who had won the Championships back-to-back in ’03 and ’04 (both times beating Sweden). The Czechs won the final in Vienna 3:0 (of course the final was played in Vienna—what did you think?). Russia took third place by beating Sweden 6:3. Slovakia, the US, Finland, and Switzerland (especially Switzerland) could still be content as quarter finalists. Latvia, Belarus, the Ukraine, and Kazakhstan performed within their capabilities and were ranked 9-12. Slovenia and Denmark were happy survivors in the fight against relegation on positions 13 and 14. And Germany and Austria – well, they better wouldn’t have shown up for the tournament in the first place (more about this below). Rick Nash was the top scorer with 9 goals, while Joe Thornton not only led the stats in both assists (10) and points (16), but was also decorated as the tournament’s MVP. Honors as best forward went to Viktor Kozlov, the best defenseman according to the directorate was Wade Redden. And Thomas Vokoun was proclaimed best goalie, even though the Belarusian Andrei Mezin led the stats with an impressive saving percentage of 97.14, and an even more impressive 1.01 goals against average. Belarus marked another impressive statistic: a 100% penalty killing. The Swede Samuel Pahlsson picked up the most penalties (28 minutes) while Russia led that ranking as a team—and if you wanna know more stats you can go to http://www.ihwc.net/english/. Overall, the tournament demonstrated some fantastic hockey, and everything that a tournament of this caliber needs: highlights (the Czech overtime victory over Sweden in the semis), suspense (the quarterfinal penalty shootouts between Russia and Finland or the Czech Republic and the US), drama (Jaromir Jagr’s injured finger), tension (the tournament’s administrators in Vienna had to take a fair amount of shit for sloppy organization—in Innsbruck I didn’t hear any of that, just to throw that in), and humor (one of the Eastern European coaches assessing the conditions of the ice at the Vienna rink by reporting that one of his players had broken a skate during the game “but fortunately was a good enough swimmer to make it back to the bench”). Needless to say, in the context of this modest article it is impossible to make all the trials and tribulations come alive that you live through at a collective social experience as tremendous as this 14-day hockey extravaganza (and joy—if you weren’t German or Austrian, that is); so in my function as the lucky and privileged Give ‘Em The Lumber’s exclusive correspondent to the Hockey World Championships 2005 I will content myself with listing the three single most important realizations forced upon the observer at the event: 1.Due to the NHL lock-out all star players were available to represent their respective countries at this year’s tournament—however, the US still didn’t even make the semis, and Canada did not score once in the final. What’s up, Europe! 2.The top teams’ level of play seems to become more and more evenly balanced: Out of the four semifinalists each one could have taken the title, and so could have at least three of the quarterfinalists (sorry, my Swiss neighbors, but this would just go too far…)—in the end it all came down to how things played out that particular day and to a touch of luck. 3.Hockey fans rule: During the course of the tournament Innsbruck hosted hockey fans from Sweden, Finland, Latvia, Slovenia, the Ukraine, and Denmark (Germans don’t count—they are always there). Having these folks in town was a real treat. All of them. Even though the special supporters’ award probably has to go to our Latvian friends—they were a lot of fun! And they well deserve hosting next year’s World Championships (May 6th to 21st—in case you’ve always wanted to make that trip to Europe and were just waiting for an excuse). Unfortunately, the article has to end on a sad note: The Austrian performance. The Austrian team managed to lose all their games except one, including defeats to teams considered “easy” opponents, such as Slovenia, or especially Denmark. The only point the Austrian team won was in a draw against Germany. Austria’s overall showing was atrocious. After their last games they got booed out of the arena. (Austrians are mean. But they aren’t that mean. There were reasons for the jeers.) The explanations for the disaster were the typical ones : injuries, bad coaching, bad attitude. As always, probably everything played together. In any case, it was embarrassing. But the players have to bear most of the burden themselves: Next year there will be no playing against no Niklas Kronwall or Zigmund Palffy; Austria’s hockey aces will battle it out with the teams from Lithuania or Croatia in the Group B tournament in Estonia. I’m sure Thomas Vanek or Thomas Pöck (both, especially Vanek, playing rather successfully for their AHL teams in Rochester and Hartford respectively) won’t be too excited to come across the Atlantic for an outing like that (they even seemed reluctant this year). Well, we’ll see. Maybe the Austrian team bounces right back into Group A, just as it did the last time it had been relegated in 1996. Which leads me to the three ironies I have to finish this article with: Irony 1: When Austria got relegated the last time, the World Championships were also held in the country itself. (So would I forgo another World Championship in my home country, so my country’s team can actually stay in Group A? Good question. I have to think about that.) Irony 2. By drawing with Germany, the Austrians took the Germans with them to ice hockey oblivion next year. (Okay, I admit that people not versed in soccer history might miss the irony here. All I can say is: Gijon 1982). Irony 3: My best friend from junior high school, Claus Dalpiaz, is a veteran goalkeeper for the Austrian team and was a member of every Austrian World Championships or Olympics squad since 1993. A couple of weeks before this year’s World Championships he got injured in a warm-up game against the Czech Republic and had to sit the tournament out on a groin injury (Bernd Brückler, a Wisconsin Badger, had to step in—rather unsuccessfully, as you would probably guess at this point). Claus not being the youngest anymore at 33, I was rather saddened by the news, given that it meant that he would miss out on what was probably his last chance to play in another World Championship in Austria itself. Now of course it looks like it was opportune that he got to hang at home with his family during the month of May rather than partaking in the Austrian hockey fiasco. Then again, with him between the posts things might have looked very different of course… In 2008 the Hockey World Championships will be hosted in North America for the first time in 46 years (Colorado Springs and Denver hosted the tournament in 1962): Halifax and Quebec are supposed to gather the world’s best. Will this change the North American’s perception of the event? Who knows? But I’m sure Give ‘Em The Lumberwill be there to tell you all about it!

The Game by Ken Dryden In eights years, Ken Dryden won six Stanley Cups as the goaltender for the Montreal Canadiens. The Game is Dryden’s memoir of his last weeks with the Canadiens. The Game gives the hockey fan insight on how long term success can break up a championship team like the Montreal Canadiens. The players become too big for the team and they become a group of individuals who feel that they are bigger than the game. Ownership loses respect for the coach and the coach is forced to move on. Dryden ponders the end of his hockey career as he looks forward to becoming an attorney and yuppie. He is a yuppie among the blue collar majority of the Canadiens. He doens’t go with the team to watch movies on the road, he goes to the theatre by himself. The Game has many quotable paragraphs that would make cool email signature files. An example of one: “The great satisfaction of playing goal comes from the challenge it presents. Simply stated, it is to give the team what it needs, when it need it, not when I feel well rested, injury free, warmed up, psyched up, healthy, happy and able to give iit, but then the team needs it.” Other than that, unless you are a hard core Canadiens fan, The Game is boring. To be frank, this is a bad read. I forced myself to read this book to write this short review.

Open Net by George Plimpton

The late George Plimpton made it a career of being “a fearless amateur braving the world of professional sports.” In Open Net, Plimpton expores the world of professional hockey. For a writing assignment, Plimpton comes a member of the Boston Bruins as a back up goalie, mainly because he could not skate. Plimpton attempts to learn how to skate at a local New York ice rink and succeeds in learning how to stand on ice skates. He then joins the Boston Bruins pre-season training camp armed with a old style hockey mask painted with a third eye. Plimpton is proud of this symbol and he quickly learns that the third eye makes a great target for the shooters and the Bruins goaltender core refuses to let him wear it on the ice for fear he might get killed. The book covers Plimpton’s initiation to the world of professional hockey; he trains as a hockey goalie in order to play the final five minutes of the first period of a pre-seaon game against the Philadelphia Flyers. His initiation is facinating as he gives the reader a light hearted look at the life of pro hockey players – a very fun read. This book does not give the reader a sense of what its like being a hockey goalie, but Plimpton’s retelling of his five minutes in net is hilarious and this makes the book well worth reading. Plimpton ends this book with a reflection on how his experiences with the Bruins made him a big fan of hockey while one of his girlfriends was only fasinated with the Zamboni machine as it cleaned the ice between periods.

—Tim Wong