Wednesday, July 08, 2009

"Open Ice" by Jack Falla

Recently finished "Open Ice: Reflections and Confessions of a Hockey Lifer" by Jack Falla (also the author of the novel "Saved" that I reviewed here).

I enjoyed it quite a bit and what really struck me about the book is the coincidence of Falla's passing from a heart attack just prior to it's release. This is even more profound as the book deals quite a bit with Falla's view of mortality in this highly personal account of his life in hockey.

Some of the chapters I found to be of note are below:

"A Death in Montreal": About Falla's trip on his own dime to be at the memorial service for Maurice "Rocket" Richard. A fascinating account of how Richard impacted French Canada... which compels me to recommend the movie "The Rocket" (sometimes known as "Maurice Richard". Available on Netflix, it features some excellent hockey action from this era and shows the circumstances of Richard's career and why he mattered so much.

"Skating the Rideau Canal": One of the chapters that struck me in light of Falla's passing as his stated goal was to skate the canal through Ottawa while 80. Sadly, he didn't make it.

"Requiem for the Cucumber": About another Falla hockey field trip of sorts... this time to the small town of Chicoutimi, Quebec to learn about local legend Georges Vezina and view his grave. Just an interesting look back in hockey history.

"Searching for Hobey Baker": Chronicles a Falla trip to the New Hampshire school attended by perhaps the most famous American hockey player. The namesake for the college hockey player of the year, Baker was one of those larger than characters who died extremely young... actually, the last person to die in WWI. Similar to that on Vezina, a very cool history lesson of sorts provided in this chapter.

"Goodbye to the Backyard Rink": Details Falla's experience with his backyard rink and how it has influenced the lives of he and those close to him. Another poignant section of the book as Falla wrestles with the question of whether to stop putting the rink up of his volition, or whether to wait until he's no longer healthy enough to put it up.

Apart from the book, I found to be of interest a memorial Facebook group page that I found through a google search for Falla. Just seems like he was a really good guy and definitely an excellent hockey writer.