SportsLit
SportsLit (Season 4, Episode 14) -  Ken Reid (Sportsnet) - One to Remember - Stories from 39 Members of the NHL’s One Goal Club

SportsLit (Season 4, Episode 14) - Ken Reid (Sportsnet) - One to Remember - Stories from 39 Members of the NHL’s One Goal Club

December 17, 2020

In hockey, either you are trying to keep the puck out, or put it in the net. 

Whether you are Wayne Gretzky, who has scored an NHL record 894 times or a member of the NHL's one goal club, they all count the same.

Ken Reid (Sportsnet) tracked down 39 players who have lit the lamp just once, and in the process, turned footnotes into features, bringing to life the stories of men who have accomplished a feat that is the envy of anyone who has hit the ice with big league dreams.

 

SportsLit (Season 4, Episode 13) - Paul Romanuk  - Hockey Superstars 2020-2021

SportsLit (Season 4, Episode 13) - Paul Romanuk - Hockey Superstars 2020-2021

December 14, 2020

Hockey fans in Canada know Paul Romanuk best from his broadcasting days at TSN and Hockey Night in Canada (Sportsnet), but for well over 30 years, he has also written Hockey Superstars, an annual release that showcases the NHL's best, to kids.

The 2020-21 edition was released on Oct. 6, and Romanuk joined us to discuss the challenges of producing the most recent installment during the pandemic, a TV/Radio career which has taken him to the top levels of sports media, and his new podcast The Walrus Was Paul. 

 

SportsLit (Season 4, Episode 12) - Serge Savard with Philippe Cantin - Forever Canadien

SportsLit (Season 4, Episode 12) - Serge Savard with Philippe Cantin - Forever Canadien

December 1, 2020

Serge Savard grew up in rural Quebec following WWII in an era known as Le Grand Noirceur (The Great Darkness), but he didn't see it that way.

Confident and astute, Savard went from playing hockey on outdoor rinks reminiscent of illustrations in Roch Carrier's The Hockey Sweater, to starring for the Montreal Canadiens from 1966-67 - 80-81.  Once he retired from the NHL, he returned to become their general manager.  In total, he won the Stanley Cup 10 times.

All the while, he represented Canada internationally, developed his business acumen and fostered political relationships that have propelled him to prominent standing today.

On Oct. 21, the English translation of Forever Canadien, his authorized biography written with journalist Philippe Cantin, was released.

The result? A comprehensive and intricate look at Savard's direct impact on the fabled history of the franchise, while immersing the reader into a life forged in one solitude.

SportsLit (Season 4, Episode 11) - Al Strachan - Hockey’s Hot Stove - The Untold Stories of the Original Insiders

SportsLit (Season 4, Episode 11) - Al Strachan - Hockey’s Hot Stove - The Untold Stories of the Original Insiders

November 29, 2020

When journalist Dave Shoalts joined us for Season 2, Episode 5 to discuss Hockey Fight in Canada, his book about the rights battle for Hockey Night in Canada (HNIC), he told us that his print stories about the storied program always moved the dial.

It's true, HNIC gets people talking...and writing.

Al Strachan had a long history with the show as a panelist on Satellite Hot Stove, the second intermission segment that was created by executive producer John Shannon in 1994 to showcase the insider knowledge of those dialed in around the NHL.

Along with Coach's Corner and of course, the game itself, Satellite Hot Stove was part of the triumvirate that made Saturday night appointment TV.

Strachan, who entered the media section of the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1993 for contributions in covering the league, draws on his unique vantage point for an unfiltered read of what went on behind the scenes, after 40 minutes of play.

 

SportsLit (Season 4, Episode 10) - Rick Westhead (TSN) - Finding Murph  - How Joe Murphy Went From Winning a Championship to Living Homeless in the Bush

SportsLit (Season 4, Episode 10) - Rick Westhead (TSN) - Finding Murph - How Joe Murphy Went From Winning a Championship to Living Homeless in the Bush

November 25, 2020

Joe Murphy lives in the precarious crack that lies between an uplifting ending or a tragic conclusion.

Once upon a time he was the first NCAA player selected in the NHL Draft, a Stanley Cup winner and an eccentric teammate, but today he is homeless and in clear need of mental health care.

Could a vicious hit sustained in one of the 779 career games he played from 1986-2000 have significantly altered the path of his life to where it is today?

Journalist Rick Westhead (TSN) digs deep into the story of a gifted Canadian kid that went to the top of the hockey world, and the untreated brain injuries that may have caused his unsettling descent.

SportsLit (Season 4, Episode 9) - Rick Vaive - Catch 22 - My Battles, in Hockey and Life

SportsLit (Season 4, Episode 9) - Rick Vaive - Catch 22 - My Battles, in Hockey and Life

November 24, 2020

Ron Hawkins sings of "a wounded soldier from the bad old days," in his song Peace and Quiet, which Tim Thompson wove together with archived footage to create his acclaimed ode to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

That lyric rings true when examining the tenure of former captain Rick Vaive.

A prolific scorer, he was named team captain at the age of 22 and netted three-consecutive 50-goal seasons while enduring a circus-like atmosphere and futility during the Harold Ballard era.  

At his peak between 1980-87, he achieved great personal success on the ice, but it also marked a time when the franchise’s legacy to past glory was fully severed.  It was a paradoxical experience as a professional in a life that through various contributing circumstances, “left him on the edge of the limelight.”

Catch 22 is the title of his memoir which he wrote with journalist Scott Morrison and it was released on Nov. 17.  Here is Vaive, in his own words.

 

SportsLit (Season 4, Episode 8) - Angie Bullaro / Manon Rheaume - Breaking the Ice

SportsLit (Season 4, Episode 8) - Angie Bullaro / Manon Rheaume - Breaking the Ice

November 17, 2020

Manon Rheaume was always in a league of her own. 

Mention her name to hockey fans and most will remember the media frenzy that accompanied her appearance in net with the Tampa Bay Lightning during NHL exhibition play in 1992. 

While GM Phil Esposito got the attention he sought for his expansion team, Rheaume’s professionalism under the spotlight illuminated the way forward for women’s hockey. 

Inspired to tell the story on film, actor/producer Angie Bullaro decided that a children’s book could also light a spark for future generations and so Breaking the Ice was born.

Hit play and hear what they both had to say!  

SportsLit (Season 4, Episode 7) - Doug Smith (Toronto Star) - We The North - 25 Years of the Toronto Raptors

SportsLit (Season 4, Episode 7) - Doug Smith (Toronto Star) - We The North - 25 Years of the Toronto Raptors

October 26, 2020

On Nov. 3, 1995, the Toronto Raptors tipped off against the New Jersey Nets and changed the sports landscape of the city.

The Raptors are now a team to be reckoned with but it wasn’t long ago that people would have laughed at the notion they would ever win an NBA title, let alone by the time their 25th anniversary rolled around.

Why did they become champions? What were the turning points? How comedic, chaotic, tumultuous, and triumphant has the last quarter-century been?

Raptors beat writer Doug Smith (Toronto Star) has pretty much seen it all covering the team from Day 1, and oftentimes he would say, “Man, that’s one for the book.”

Now you have it.

SportsLit (Season 4, Episode 6) - Willie O’Ree - Willie - The Game Changing Story of the NHL’s First Black Player

SportsLit (Season 4, Episode 6) - Willie O’Ree - Willie - The Game Changing Story of the NHL’s First Black Player

October 25, 2020

If you are a hockey fan, you probably know the story of Willie O’Ree.  In 1958, he became the first black player to skate in an NHL game when his Boston Bruins faced the Montreal Canadiens.

The feat wasn’t heralded at the time and Mr. O’Ree’s NHL career lasted just 45 games, though he would go on to play professional hockey until 1979.  Following his retirement, he remained far from the public eye until 1996.

At that time the league was being run a new regime that was focused on expanding the game into new markets and exposing the sport to different demographics. In O’Ree, the NHL saw a perfect ambassador who had first-hand experience to drive an inclusive message.

The rest of his life story is remarkable as well, from an ancestor believed to have found freedom through an early form of the Underground Railroad to his own direct path navigating the segregated southern United States as a baseball prospect…and there is much more.

We are pleased to have him join us to discuss his new book Willie – The Game Changing Story of the NHL’s First Black Player, written with Michael McKinley.

  

SportsLit (Season 4, Episode 5) - Brian Burke - Burke’s Law - A Life in Hockey

SportsLit (Season 4, Episode 5) - Brian Burke - Burke’s Law - A Life in Hockey

October 13, 2020

Whether it is an attention-grabbing quote, transaction or ruling, Brian Burke has always made a splash wherever he has worked, from the NHL head office, to running a marquee franchise.

He is well known for his tenure as the leagues’ disciplinarian and his time at the helm of the Hartford Whalers, Vancouver Canucks, Toronto Maple Leafs, Calgary Flames and Anaheim Ducks, where he won the Stanley Cup in 2007.  Since stepping away from management, he has become an analyst with Sportsnet.   

In his newly released memoir written with Stephen Brunt, Burke sets the record straight on his very colourful and sometimes controversial experiences in the game, while navigating life lessons, balancing familial responsibility and dealing with tragedy along the way.

Fair warning, there was no truculent talk or pugnacious exchanges, just good conversation.

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