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Gabby: Confessions of a Hockey Lifer Hardcover – Oct 1 2009
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About the Author
Bruce Boudreau is head coach of the Washington Capitals. The former head coach of numerous championship teams, Boudreau is the eleventh all-time scorer in the American Hockey League. Boudreau played parts of eight seasons for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Chicago Blackhawks, recording 70 points in 141 career NHL games. He won two Memorial Cups with the Toronto Marlboros and set a Canadian Hockey League single-season scoring record that stood until Wayne Gretzky broke it.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Gabby is a light, pleasant read -- no heavy hockey philosophy here. But it reveals genius through simplicity and passion. Bruce Boudreau's success is spelled out beautifully in this book through a series of stories about his less-than-stellar playing career, lessons learned from minor league coaching, and becoming one of the NHL's most successful coaches.
This book is an idea read for the following: A rabid Washington Capitals fan; a youth hockey coach; high school and up hockey players; and young business professionals looking to glean secrets and tips for being a successful leader. I see a lot of my own company's president (highly successful and a joy to work for) in Bruce Boudreau.
Gabby talks about his experiences, both on and off the ice, in an entertaining way, but if you're not careful, you'll miss the many life-lessons he's trying to convey, such as the one trait, evident on almost every page, that underlies his strength and success -- genuine humility.
There's a few things I thought he glossed over a bit much, such as his divorce from his first wife (but it took some courage to even talk about it), a bit more about some of the players he's coached for, especially some of today's stars on his and other NHL teams, and perhaps a bit more about his own personal background and how he developed his passion for hockey. Then again, I'm not quite done with the book yet.
I suggest this book as a Christmas or birthday present, or a gift, for the young hockey player or coach in your life. But don't forget a copy for yourself, too.
The book is also very refreshing in its openness and honesty. He pulls no punches, spreading praise and asking blunt questions. He doesn't just shine the light on others, questioning his own approach to the game as a player and coming to the conclusion that he can use himself as an example of how NOT to play the game. He admits that he didn't do what he could to be the player he could (even though he's been inducted to the AHL Hall of Fame, he didn't reach his potential in the NHL). That kind of honesty isn't seen much, and lends a nice air to the book.
Boudreau covers his playing and early coaching career in some depth, too, talking up the up-and-down career he had with multiple teams in multiple leagues, admitting when perhaps he made a wrong decision in his contracts, and pointing out a few instances when he could have gotten off track but for one minor choice. He also gives readers a great look at the evolution of his coaching style and background, talking about who he coached, for, with, and against, and what he learned from each of them. It wasn't all peaches and cream, and he bluntly discusses why -- even when it was due to his own actions or decisions.
But where the book is really fun for Caps fans is when Boudreau is promoted on Thanksgiving Day 2007 and takes the worst team in the league on a magic carpet ride to the playoffs, making DC one of the new Hockey Towns in the league. Yes, Boudreau had some help -- Ovie, Greenie, Feds, Nicky (aren't hockey nicknames great?) and more -- but he really gives an inside look into coaching the Caps, coaching in hockey, and how he turned the team around.
Boudreau has really led a full life, and it comes through in the book. His co-author, Tim Leone, covered Boudreau when he was coach for the Hershey Bears, and the two have an obvious rapport that shines through. Leone lets Boudreau's personality do the heavy lifting in the book, opting to present him unvarnished without the cleaning up some autobiographies do. It's a really refreshing approach, and makes you believe you truly got to know Bruce Boudreau in reading the book.
The book is a lot lower-key than I thought it might be - not that much humor or controversy - but I still had no trouble reading it. It's an easy read, which is a compliment. I wish it had more on last season and a detailed report on the exciting playoff series against the Penguins. Instead, it's kind of an afterthought at the end of the book. I assume most of this was written before the 2008-2009 season. The book, however, gives you a good feel of what it's like to coach in the minors.
You just have to be a fan of hockey and you'll enjoy reading this autobiography about an underdog who made good.
Nicknamed "Gabby" during his years in junior hockey, the chatty coach of the NHL's Caps puts his almost child-like love of the game on display in this snappy fast read. Boudreau runs through stories faster than an Ovechkin charge up-ice, and he covers more years and hockey experiences than the Caps have had wins in the last two seasons.
Gabby reveals how many of his early hockey career destinations were due to misguided and bad decisions. His agent encouraged him to stay in minor league Johnstown where he snagged some time with Paul Newman and shows up in the movie "Slapshot". He chose to go the World Hockey Association for a little more pay rather than grab NHL offer.
Along the way, it becomes clear that Gabby was the 'little engine that could'. In spite of himself, and his self-admitted lackadaisical approach to taking the game seriously, Boudreau was successful on an individual basis (he's been named to the AHL Hall of Fame), at the team level (he won the Memorial Cup in junior hockey), and as a coach (winning ECHL and AHL Championships).
Boudreau also provides insights into his time with the Caps, heart-breaking Game 7 playoff losses, managing All-Star talent, and his strategic and tactical approaches to coaching one of the highest scoring teams in the league.
The book is fun and funny, and is a veritable who's-who in the world of hockey. The book is a quick read for adults and perfectly appropriate for any students of the game 4th grade and up.
GO BEARS, and GO CAPS