Inside stories on hockey, life and love for the game

McKenzie presents enjoyable variety in “Hockey Confidential”

When Bob McKenzie set out to write his second book he had one main focus: a series of stories for the hardcore hockey fan, but on subjects such as family and life that transcend the game itself.

In “Hockey Confidential: Inside Stories From People Inside the Game,” he met that goal.

In “Hockey Confidential,” McKenzie presents 11 stories about various figures around the game. There are recognizable names from the rising star in Connor McDavid, the Subban family with a trio of NHL talent, the elite goal-scorer John Tavares and the notable Don Cherry. But there are also stories about people behind the scenes from the creators of fancy stats (or #fancystats as McKenzie refers to them) and Mark Lindsay, a man with magic, healing hands. While these subjects represent a portion of McKenzie’s subject matter, their stories all speak about hockey and life beyond the game.

“I feel strongly about all of them and that’s why they’re in the book,” McKenzie said.

When the Hockey Insider initially set out to write the book, he envisioned a series of 25 short stories. Instead, he ended up with 11 longer pieces that delight and inform.

Due to his work and presence in the sport, McKenzie was able to present these stories in ways that haven’t been done before.

“It was really a case that a lot of the things were in my sphere of influence that I was aware of that maybe other people wouldn’t be as aware of,” McKenzie said. “I took some obvious ones: Tavares is not anybody’s secret, but I thought the whole idea of the relationship between him and his uncle, his family history, I just thought that would be an interesting story, so I pursued it from that angle.”

Though he enjoys each of the 11 chapters he presents, the final chapter on Jari Byrski holds a slight edge as his favorite.

“I just think he’s had a fascinating life,” McKenzie said. “It’s just sort of an epic journey. I’ve known him a long time and he’s a really unique individual.”

While each story is founded in hockey, each one is a comment on life — the game is simply the thread that binds them together.

“Hockey Confidential” is McKenzie’s second book, following “Hockey Dad.” McKenzie hinted he may have a third book in store, eventually, but after the hours he poured into his latest opus, the insider needs a break.

“In typical reporter fashion, I had plenty of time to get it done and I mostly procrastinated and didn’t do any of it until too late,” McKenzie said.

“It really was a nightmare.”

But his nightmare was a hockey lover’s gain.

You can find “Hockey Confidential” here.

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