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Shorthanded: The Untold Story of the Seals: Hockey's Most Colorful Team [Paperback]

Brad Kurtzberg
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Feb. 15 2006
The saga of the Oakland/California Seals nine-year journey through the NHL is a strange, funny and sad tale that is nearly forgotten and has never been told...until now. Off the ice, the history of the Seals is practically a tale of how not to run a franchise. The team joined the NHL in 1967 as part of the "Second Six" expansion teams and stayed in Oakland until moving to Cleveland in 1976. The Seals had seven different ownership groups in nine years and chaos reigned throughout the process. This book shows you the inner workings of a hockey club that was always on the brink of bankruptcy and/or relocating and takes you behind the scenes of many of the mistakes made by NHL owners and executives during the early years of expansion. It also chronicles the crazy days of ownership by Charlie Finley, a man who admittedly knew nothing about hockey but knew he wanted to run his team his way. Hilarity and disaster resulted. On the ice, the Seals met with little success but were never dull. In nine years, the team had to put up with white skates, few fans and a cast of characters that were unique This book allows the players and coaches to tell their own story. More than 110 interviews were conducted with former Seals players, owners, coaches and employees to get a clear picture of what it was like to play in the NHL in the 60s and 70s. The rise of the WHA, continuing expansion and more hilarious stories of what really happens to an NHL team on the road and in the locker room. Hockey fans will love this true tale of the Seals.hockey's most colorful team.

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The Seals June 20 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Great book about this franchise. I'm kind of a vintage guy and this book fits the bill. I found info in it that i didn't know. Too bad there isn't book like this for the Kansas City Scouts, Cleveland Barons and Colorado Rockies.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A long-overdue story Nov. 26 2007
By GSE
Format:Paperback
I was happy to see that a book was written about the Seals, as they were a team I just missed, having got into hockey in 1977 as a kid. I always wondered about them and why they had fared so poorly. There are lots of good stories in here and certainly a wealth of information. You can tell there was a lot of research that went into it and quite a few funny anecdotes are included.

I was expecting it to be more of a narrative that took the reader through the team's beginnings right through to the end in 1976, however. It could have been written this way and been more engaging. It's actually a collection of short profiles on most of the players who ever wore the uniform, divided into three eras. I would have preferred it just to be a story from beginning to end.

Also, like most sports books, the actual writing could be better. Sometimes the same word is used three times in the same sentence, and the formula for each mini-profile gets repetitive after a while.

But overall, I'm glad I have the book and enjoyed learning about a team that has mostly been forgotten.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  20 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Seals Book! Jan. 19 2007
By Mark Willand - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Brad Kurtzberg has produced a compelling history of the Seals -- and of the NHL in the late 60s and early 70s.

The interviews with players were insightful and candid. The overall theme of many Seals players was "he could have been great but he was crazy off the ice."

It's amazing how prevalent alcohol abuse was in this era. It's shame so many players wasted their talent and lives due to a complete lack of discipline. In fact, after reading the bios of "Sheecat" Sheehan, Jim Neilson, Joey Johnston, Tommy Willams, etc., you may feel like you have a hangover.

The book also details how the Seals compiled a solid roster by 1971-72 but hit rock bottom the next year when the likes of Paul Shmyr, Gerry Pinder, Tom Webster, et al fled to the new World Hockey Association.

The author clearly worked diligently to conduct numerous interviews and the result is the only true history of this miserable but interesting franchise.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We loved the Seals March 24 2006
By Tom Hockey - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I was a Seals fan growing up in the Bay Area, when they left it was a shame..Brad Kurtzberg has written a wonderful fact filled

history of the team. The best part is the interviews with the 100+ players. It's great so see that so many of them have turned out to be successful people. They had some great stories to tell about their playing days with a team alway in

turmoil.
16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Interview notes for a better book Oct. 4 2006
By Edward G. Keating - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
"Shorthanded" is divided into two parts. The first, and certainly more interesting, part is a 33-page history of the Seals' convoluted financing and ownership situation (highlighted, of course, by Charlie Finley owning the team for a period). I enjoyed this part of the book; it had a good narrative flow.

The second, much longer, part of the book is composed of roughly two-three page summaries of the careers of and interviews with almost every player of any significance who ever played for the Seals. There are nuggets of interest herein, e.g., Ernie Hicke came to the Seals in a trade for a draft pick that became Guy Lafleur. (Oops!) But this second part of the book is sort of akin to reading a high school yearbook. Almost everybody is a great guy, hard-working, fun to be around, and, usually, played better after leaving the Seals.

It gets very monotonous reading these summaries. The author also has a repititive style. For instance, several summaries end the same way: "That was Joe Hardy, briefly a big centerman for the Seals." "That was Harry Howell: classy, consistent and a leader on the and off the ice." "That was Norm Ferguson, a boy from the Maritimes who made good in the NHL."

The inference I drew is that the author spent a lot of time interviewing lots of players and, instead of focusing on those stories that had a good narrative arc or were most significant or interesting, he basically tossed in everything he learned from everyone. He didn't want to disappoint any of the players. But, as a result, he disappointed this reader in that the bulk of the book ends up being tedious reading.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this book! March 26 2006
By Tiffany N. Bunke - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Shorthanded is the best hockey book I've ever read!

It's well written, informative, entertaining, exciting and truly hilarious.

The stories from former players, executives and life long fans capture the history of this team with such clarity that it feels like you're sitting behind the players bench.

It's a must read!

I cant wait for future books from Mr. Kurtzberg. He certainly has a gift for recreating the history of sports.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you love vintage hockey, this is for you. March 17 2006
By Jackaroo26 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is rare find. Brad Kurtzberg interviewed 100+ pro hockey players from the '70s, then wrote up profiles of each player who was on the Seals, plus management. He also has a nice history of the team. Well-written, entertaining and very recommended.
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