My dad likes to take me book shopping. He has a bajillion books, and raised me with the same appreciation. Since he doesn’t live close to the awesome Half-Price Books that I live across the street from, we usually end up going to Borders or Barnes and Noble. Sure, it costs more, but he never seems to mind. A couple of weeks ago, he took me shopping and he spent about $120 on books for me. I ended up getting a book on the history of modern Russia, two history books (one about the 1888 blizzard and one about the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago), and two hockey books – The Boys of Winter, which I haven’t read yet, and The Rookie.
I have a fondness for Sidney Crosby. I can’t fully explain it. He kind of freaks me out, but he seems like a good kid and he’s a great player. Also, that new Gatorade commercial had me in stitches (so dramatic!). At any rate, this was a pretty fascinating read. No, seriously.
Shawna Richer is a reporter for the Globe and Mail who spent all of Crosby’s rookie season in Pittsburgh, following the 18-year-old in the first year of the post-lockout NHL. She, too, hails from Nova Scotia. She had written about Crosby before for the Globe and Mail, covering the World Junior tournament and seeing him play as a junior for the Rimouski Oceanic.
She writes about the season as she experienced it. In newspapers, all you get are hard facts – what the score was, what the coaches and players said. In this book, she describes things in a different way. She spends time with Crosby, and there are points where he lets his guard down a bit, and Richer tells us what he’s feeling.
As a Western Conference, Pacific Division girl who didn’t get super into hockey until just last season, I didn’t watch the Pittsburgh Penguins in Crosby’s rookie year. I never get to know about the financial problems they were having, I wasn’t there for Mario Lemieux’s retirement. As such, this book had me hooked. Richer covers many games, tells us about the entire Penguins roster as well as their AHL affiliate team, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
It almost feels like you’re hearing this story from a Pittsburgh fan at a coffee shop. That’s how Shawna Richer writes. She writes with a certain familiarity that drew me in. I always wanted to know what would happen next. I wanted to know what Sidney (we’re on a first name basis now) was thinking. How did he feel when Lemieux was forced to retire with an irregular heartbeat? What about the pressure of being the “new face” of the NHL? What about that other rookie, that Russian kid, Alexander Ovechkin? Is there a bitter rivalry between the two? Are they friends? What about living with Lemieux’s family? Is that totally awkward for little Sidney?
Oh, speaking of living with Lemieux’s family. Mario’s wife, Nathalie, treated Sidney like a fifth child. In the book, Sidney tells a story about how one night, she made a certain spaghetti sauce to include in his pre-game meal. He had a four-point game that night. The next night, she had run out of spaghetti sauce, and when he got home from his morning skate, she was trying to make it from scratch, with the help of the kids. He was blown away, as you can imagine, at the motherly care that showed. I admit it, I teared up a little bit. I think it’s cute.
It’s an easy read – I think I breezed through it in, like, two days. There’s a black-and-white photo filler section (yeah, I admit it – I think Sidney Crosby’s totally adorable). All in all, it’s an excellent book that tells you what happened on the ice and gives you an idea of what went on in the head of the NHL’s new Golden Boy.