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The Rookie: A Season with Sidney Crosby and the New NHL [Hardcover]

Shawna Richer , Roy MacGregor


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Book Description

Oct. 24 2006
A Season with Sidney Crosby and the New NHL. A gripping account of the rookie season of the NHL’s next great saviour.

When Sidney Crosby was first drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins, we knew he was bright, photogenic, personable, and a media darling. The only question that remained was whether he could handle the big time. From an international advertising deal with Reebok to a season of personal triumphs and gut-wrenching challenges — with a little argument from Don Cherry along the way — Sid the Kid has proven that he is the man.

In the tradition of A Season on the Brink and Peter Gzowski’s The Game of Our Lives, Shawna Richer has had the exclusive assignment of chronicling Sidney Crosby’s incredible rookie season. Beginning with the NHL entry draft that almost never was, Richer follows Crosby to Pittsburgh, where he is greeted as the team’s saviour and moves in with living legend Mario Lemieux. Just eighteen, the league’s youngest player makes the leap to the NHL look easy and is named its best rookie in his first month, while performing under great expectations and intense scrutiny. He quickly becomes his team’s leading scorer and best player; there are triumphant openings in New York, Toronto, and Montreal. But like Gretzky and Lemieux, the young superstars who came before him, his first NHL season provides immense challenges. The Penguins struggle to win games and fire their coach early on, all with the threat that the team may be sold and leave Pittsburgh hanging over their heads. Through it all, Crosby rises to each challenge. His story is destined to become a classic.

With less than a minute left to play, and the game appearing to be headed to a shootout, Crosby vaulted over the bench for his final shift. At the same time, across the rink in the corner near the Penguins net, Ryan Malone pulled the puck onto his stick. The rangy sophomore forward looked around for an open man nearby, but then he spied Crosby near centre ice, just starting to head across the zone. The rookie was wide open and all alone. Malone fired a long lead pass to his teammate straight up the middle of the rink.

Just over the centre line, Crosby pulled the puck in and charged into the Flyers zone, all the anger from earlier contained entirely on the blade of his stick. The only thing between him and Niittymaki was less than ninety feet of well-worn ice. The Finnish goaltender shimmied out of his crease in an attempt to cut down the view of the net, but Crosby was churning so hard and so fast he quickly backed up. Sidney spotted an opening on Niittymaki’s stick side, and in an instant, he shot and scored.

He raised his arms and shouted. He circled back toward centre ice, all broken teeth and fat lip and unbridled rage and joy and sweet revenge in one package. The crowd roared its displeasure.

–From The Rookie

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: McClelland & Stewart; 1 edition (Oct. 24 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0771075065
  • ISBN-13: 978-0771075063
  • Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 2.9 x 23.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 658 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #684,956 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

“…a riveting documentary of a player who transcends his sport.”
Montreal Gazette

“ an excellent inside look at Cole Harbour’s hockey sensation during his first year ....”
The Chronicle Herald

"His first NHL season, her first book: Sidney Crosby and Shawna Richer both had splendid years. The Globe and Mail writer captures Crosby's rookie year in Pittsburgh, dripping with narrative and nuance, with the practiced eye of a seasoned foreign correspondent."
— Michael Farber, Sports Illustrated

"Sidney Crosby was never going to be just another hockey player, and The Rookie isn't just another hockey book. Thanks to Shawna Richer's terrific eyes and ears — as well as her deft touch around a keyboard — we're treated to an insider's view not only of one of the game's future stars, but of the game itself. And from here, both look pretty damn good."
— Chris Jones, Esquire Magazine

“The most interesting assignment of the year in sports journalism — wall-to-wall coverage of Penguins rookie phenom Sidney Crosby.”
Sports Illustrated

“If we really wanted to penetrate the life and times of a great player, and through him understand hockey . . . we had to be there for all those serendipitous moments of meaning.”
— Edward Greenspon, Globe and Mail

"Leave it to two Atlantic Canadians to be the stars of a book: Sidney Crosby the athlete, Shawna Richer the gifted writer.  To paraphrase Roy MacGregor's words in the forward which rung true throughout: Shawna has an ability to draw an athlete out to reveal inner thoughts.  Something the rest of us can only envy.  A wonderful documentation of what happened on the ice and what went on the head of this dedicated player at the rink and away from it." 
—Mike Emrick, NHL on NBC

About the Author

Shawna Richer of the Globe and Mail has had the exclusive assignment of following Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins during Crosby’s rookie season. Prior to this assignment she was the Globe’s Atlantic bureau chief, based in Halifax, where she first met and interviewed the Crosby family. She is based in Pittsburgh, while she follows Sidney’s rookie year.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, easy read. April 29 2007
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
An objective review of this book from me is impossible. But a fair one, the book more than deserves. Late in the text, Ms. Richer gives a speech, or at least an anecdote, some advice she was given as she wrote this book, on objectivity in writing: "But objectivity ... is not necessarily a worthy goal. To be objective in the literal sense would be to remove all emotion from the coverage, and sportswriting at its best can only be worthwhile by embracing and exposing emotion and all the things that fuel it. Fairness ... is the tone you want to strive for." So I give Ms. Richer and her book a fair deal, but not an objective one, as I am emotionally attached to the subject matter.

I lived in Pittsburgh for over 30 years and am a die-hard Penguin fan. I know the entire cast of characters in this book, what they look and sound like, including the indefatigueable Tom McMillan, Penguins Vice President of Communication, who is a major player in the story. I can hear Mike Lange's voice calling out the plays, and Phil Bourque's commentary, on the air or not. I can picture the Igloo (the Pens' home arena) with snow on it, or the rolling hills of Upper St. Clair (Ryan Malone's home neighborhood). From Molinari to Mario, Sewickley to the Steelhead Grill, whether you are from Pittsburgh or not, you too will settle into this story as if you were hearing it from a friend in your own neighborhood.

Shawna Richer gained the enviable assignment of chronicling Sidney Crosby's first year in the NHL with the Pittsburgh Penguins. This is a significant season for two reasons - Sidney Crosby is not just another hockey player, and this wasn't just the mere beginning of another hockey season. Crosby, a native of Nova Scotia, was the most anticipated rookie since 1984, when Mario Lemieux was taken first overall (also) by the Penguins, the same draft in which Crosby's father was selected. The NHL was also making a debut of sorts. After an owners' lockout of the players had cancelled the previous season in its entirety, the revamped league was back for business.

A new collective bargaining agreement had finally been reached by the owners and the player's union. The owners had conceded to revenue sharing which would allow small market teams to survive financially. The players conceded to a salary cap, which would allow owners to survive financially. The league would benefit from the parity that this arrangement breeds - all 32 teams able to compete with each other, year after year.

League executives restructured and reinforced the rule book during the unfortunate lull. Their intent was to free the game from the stifling "clutch and grab" style of defensive hockey and allow for a faster, more skilled, offensive game. Showcase the league's more talented players. Give the old fans something to cheer about, and try to lure new fans to the speed and grace of the game. As a player with "once-in-a-generation" ability, 18 year old Sidney Crosby would be shouldered with the mantle of the "new NHL". From the time before he was even drafted, Crosby had been labeled as "The Next One", and after a full lost season, the league looked to him to win fans, old and new, to the game. Even though he didn't ask for it, the youngster understands his role and carries it out with a gentle passion as fierce as the one he brings to the ice.

Ms. Richer tells the story well. The Pittsburgh Penguins, like most of the small market teams in the NHL, had been losing millions of dollars every year. Unable to pay premium salaries, one by one, their star players left or were traded. At the conclusion of the previous season, the Penguins had finished last overall. Under the new arrangements, the Penguins would be able to surround Crosby with veteran talent. And they did so, turning into a contender within a few weeks.

The league literally took off and the fast, exciting pace of the games silenced every pre-season criticism of the rule changes. Crosby's season took off too, but had several unimaginable bumps. His coach was fired in December. There was a slight but sustained backlash from some fans and players against Crosby. In one six day span, both of his linemates retired, and the team was put up for sale by the owner, Lemieux. The same Mario Lemieux who was 1984's once-in-a-generation rookie was now, not only the team's owner, but one of the retiring linemates.

Richer was there for everything and delivers each high and low in a straight, readable narrative. She quickly (p15) pays homage to Peter Gzowski's exemplary hockey book, The Game of Our Lives. (Anything written on the subject since 1981 should.) The Rookie is given a similar form by the author, announcing the time and venue of significant games, going through the Penguins roster with a short paragraph for each player, and weaving her experiences and inferences into the text.

The book falls short of the insider's look and analysis I expected from the subtitle (A Season With Sidney Crosby and the New NHL). It seems like Ms. Richer is barely below the surface of Crosby the individual, the Penguins as a team, the "new" league as a whole, and Canada's reaction to all of the above. I, however, do not know what is acceptable to print about the inner workings of an NHL locker room, so it remains to accept Ms. Richer's coverage and interpretation of events.

Even after the Penguins are disappointingly eliminated from playoff contention, Ms. Richer is able to keep the reader's interest with drama appropriate to the tale. How would Crosby handle playing on a loosing team? Would he be voted Rookie of the Year? Would he be able to achieve certain milestones like being named to the Canadian Olympic squad or reaching 80 points on the season? How would Sidney Crosby's first season and the "new" NHL turn out? You'll want to read this book to find out.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT BOOK! Jan. 11 2007
By Jeff - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I loved this book! Richer provides great detail and has a keen aspect on every situation. I couldn't put this book down and finished it very quickly. I highly recommend this book to any Sidney Crosby fan that wants to learn more about him, or anyone that thinks he is just a hot-shot in order to find out how hard he has worked for this.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the better hockey biographies - and a great subject! Dec 4 2007
By David - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I have read a lot of biographies about hockey players, including Sidney Crosby, and while most are informational, few are what you might call "page turners". The Rookie is a suprising exception to that! Richer has done a wonderful job of bringing Sidney's amazing early career to life with the perfect mix of hockey detail and personal account. Some books of this type present material that is second- or third-hand at best but Richer committed to getting the real story first-hand. Her balanced approach to Sid's meteoric rookie season will appeal to hard-core hockey enthusiasts, devoted Sid the Kid fans, and curious people watchers all.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Loved it. Jan. 9 2007
By Ashley - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This behind the scenes book about Crosby's struggling, but amazing rookie year is very well-written and interesting. However, I did find myself grimacing over recapping what a terrible season the Penguins had, but in the end I think it was a very fine read.

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