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Thunder and Lightning: A No-B.S. Hockey Memoir [Mass Market Paperback]

Phil Esposito , Peter Golenbock
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 19 2004
Jesus saves – but Espo puts in the rebound in this raucous, ribald memoir

At a party marking the end of his third season with the Blackhawks, Phil Esposito told coach Billy Reay and GM Tommy Ivan that they had a great team, maybe even a dynasty, but that the two of them would screw it up.

It was a classic Espo moment (and may have had something to do with his being traded to the Bruins): the big centre from the Soo who became one of hockey’s all-time leading scorers, has never been reluctant to speak his mind. In this rollicking hockey memoir, he reveals what it was like to play with other Hall of Famers like Howe and Hull and Orr. He recalls his acrimonious encounters with Allan Eagleson, the incredible intensity of the 1972 Canada-Russia series, the fabulous ride with the great Bruins teams of the early 1970s, and the tough years that followed with the New York Rangers.

From being a player, Esposito went on to be a commentator, a coach, a general manager, and then founder and part-owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning. He saw it all: the booze, the drugs, the women, the wheeling and dealing, the good times and the camaraderie, the bad times and the back-stabbing. In telling what it was really like, Esposito takes readers into the boardrooms, back rooms – and even the bedrooms – of the men who make their lives in the NHL.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Legendary NHL bruiser and loudmouth Phil Esposito's Thunder and Lightning: A No-B.S. Hockey Memoir reads like a transcript from a classic barstool bull session. And that's a good thing. Espo is in the Hockey Hall of Fame, he's an Order of Canada inductee--and a Canada Post stamp-boy, to boot. Yet he reveres no sacred cows, including himself, in these particular pages. While insight into his on-ice travails and numerous scoring records is scant, there is plenty of rumble and flash in behind-the-scenes glimpses of Espo's life and times with the Boston Bruins, New York Rangers, Team Canada, and post-playing days. Alas, "If I've offended anyone, tough shit. I'm not sorry."

The off-ice follies--drinking is usually involved--runs the gamut from womanizing to fork stabbings to a near-fatal water fight. Quite uncouth at times, the memoir is mostly a rollicking ramble that amuses with bluntness and grandstanding: former NHL exec and convict Alan Eagleson as "a crook and a liar" and the late ABC sports commentator Howard Cosell as "a sleazy old geezer." But there are also words from the heart: "Nothing hurt me more than having founded the [Tampa Bay] Lightning and having the fat cats with more clout, power, and money take my team away from me." Somewhat sadly, that's what ultimately resonates: the spectre of Espo as yet another sporting great who stays too long and is in the end mentally, if not physically, devoured by the game he "loved more than anything else." --Sigcino Moyo --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“Colourful characters and crazy capers spill out of the pages – totally uncensored. The drinking, the skirt chasing and profanity remain.”
–Canadian Press (Vancouver Province, Kingston Whig-Standard, Ottawa Sun, Windsor Star, and more)

“Thunder and Lightning, written with sports author Peter Golenbock, better portrays Esposito’s warts and his lust for life, revealing an R-rated, quick-witted, fiercely loyal competitor, a longshoreman on skates who packed his lunch pail with an unquenchable will to win.

“Esposito’s candour and storytelling are terrific.…”
–Montreal Gazette, October 11, 2003

“Just like Esposito, the book is opinionated and to the point. This is the way he sees it and if that offends you, then too bad.”
–The Windsor Star, November 11, 2003

“Funny and rollicking. Honest.”
Toronto Star, October 5, 2003

“Above all else, Espo is a talker. That makes for a good read.

“This is just a bunch of stories strung together that tell the story of a famous life – stories you’d love to sit around and listen to and laugh to, along with a cigar, a beverage, and big ol’ Espo himself.”
Edmonton Sun, October 29, 2003

“Its saltiness makes this one of the more honest sporting memoirs.”
–Victoria Times-Colonist, December 14, 2003

“Esposito, noted for the intensity of his emotions as well as his ability to score from the slot, delivers what publishers like to call a ‘rollicking’ good read.”
Toronto Star, November 20, 2003

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I expected no B.S., I got no B.S. Feb. 1 2005
I went out and purchased this book simply because I knew Esposito has never been one to shy away from speaking his mind. Well, as I assumed, he speaked his mind and more in this memoir. He talks about everything from his childhood growing up, to the Canada/Russia '72 series. I had a good laugh over some of the stories he had shared and also learned a few things. A good portion of the book is his hockey career, but once he tells of him retiring and moving on to start up the Tampa Bay Lightning franchise, I found the book a little dull. The funny stories faded and it became more of ranting and complaining than anything. It's probably why I'm giving this book four stars. Nevertheless, it's definetly worth a read and any hockey fan should open it up.
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4.0 out of 5 stars outrageously vicarious fun read May 6 2005
By Brian Maitland TOP 500 REVIEWER
It's mostly a bunch of anecdotes thrown together to make a book esp. on Phil's playing days. Where it gets better and reads more like a book is from Phil's management days with the NY Rangers and TB Lightning. I just love the whole behind-the-scenes stuff on how dumb owners are in hockey. The NYR turning down getting Gretzky in his prime because their building was full so they "didn't need #99." Or trades often made by owners with GMs finding out after the fact--who knew this went on?
The whole mystery of the J-owners in Tampa is revealed and shows how Phil really is one hell of a dealmaker in getting hockey started there (and one Stanley Cup later...no matter what you think of hockey in the Deep South...that team is a success now on and off the ice).
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great book March 30 2013
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
A real fun read. Honest. Have shared this book with other. Glad he is Canadian. Shows not everyone has things handed to them.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  25 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Coarse, Humorous and Honest Nov. 14 2003
By D. Buxman - Published on Amazon.com
This book is very enjoyable and certainly represents a "no holds barred" approach. Don't expect much in the way of introspective philosophy if you buy this book. Phil Esposito played the game because he loved the game and loved having fun...end of story. In any event, this book is a fun and fast paced page-turner. Espo dishes the dirt on everyone, but doesn't gloss over his own faults and problems. If you want to know how hockey has developed into the game it is today, read this book. My only complaint is that I don't think the co-author did much to address transitions between the different stories and, thus, the finished product here is a bit rough and appears somewhat disorganized, even though the events are basically recounted in chronological order.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It ain't Shakespeare - and it ain't supposed to be.... April 28 2004
By doug1022 - Published on Amazon.com
I get the impression that this is a transcript from Phil just sitting at the kitchen table, drinking a beer, talking about the good old days. The writing style is very conversational and reflective and his thoughts and emotions are quite real.
The content is exceptionally interesting and the book has a very good flow to it. It is easy to pick this book up and read half of it, before realizing you have done so.
Many of the stories are laugh-out-loud funny. The motley cast of characters is never-ending, from Eddie Shack to Wayne Cashman to Ron Duguay. Esposito had some great times on and off the ice and he delivers his experiences in a neat little package.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Bit of a Disappointment Nov. 19 2003
By Corgi Mom - Published on Amazon.com
I think Phil's ego filled up most of the pages. Good reading but I expected more. He was born to play hockey, no doubt. If you cut Phil Esposito he bleeds hockey.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oh, Canada! April 4 2005
By Ilia Toumadjanov - Published on Amazon.com
Esposito's memoir is a refreshing whiff of fresh air in the stultifying atmosphere of political correctness that has almost entirely engulfed professional sports. He certainly doesn't aspire to a role model status, for the very simple reason that he can be outspoken about his own flaws without being apologetic; I just don't see him either in anger management counseling or on a shrink's couch. For anyone intimately familiar with the locker room smells and conversation, the spicy vignettes will ring a bell. Esposoto's saga transcends geography and time zones, it is anectodal, evocative and nostalgic as well as unrestrained and occasionally crude. Of particular interest to me was the part of the book dealing with the 1972 Summit Series. Very few people realize that the NHL v USSR was the most dramatic showdown in world sports history. The confrontation had probably more political implications than what the media on both sides presented. For some reason hockey was considered the ultimate stand-off, where else would you see bone-crushing checks, cosmic speed, finesse and imagination fused into a team effort? In the 1972 Summit Series the NHL superstars and the Soviets were evenly matched in all departments of the game except for one - personality. The Soviets simply didn't have a defiant part-loudmouth-part-goon-part-maverick-part-clown individual. And with all of the above a great player, probably the greatest crease player that I have ever seen. Espo provided the essential ingredients that glued the team together, he was the most dominating, almost demonic presence especially when the going got real tough in Moscow. Without him the series would certainly have ended in infamy and that would have had pretty far-reaching repercussions. And so I can understand the hatred Espo had for Scotty Bowman who persisted in believing that he could beat the Russians with just finesse and speed (his record against the Russians is pretty dismal). One of the most hilarious parts of the Moscow adventure is certainly the players' obsession and paranoia with listening devices in their hotel rooms, the ensuing search and the denoument when the huge chandelier crashed on the floor of the banquet hall. There is however one inconsistency, even in the land of attrition, Moscow's best restaraunts offered the best gourme food available anywhere in the world. The a la carte consisting of fried crow is pure fantasy. Other than that, a wonderful read.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Easy Goal Jan. 22 2004
By Tanya Willow - Published on Amazon.com
I used a Mylec blade in the streets near my "poor-side-of-town" home, south of Boston. For you non-hockey players, no the blade is not a knife, but a Phil Esposito street-hockey stick that beautifully resisted the punishment that street hockey gives, something that an ice-hockey stick just couldn't do.
So naturally I needed to read "Thunder & Lightening." It's been picked on a bit in the reviews. The guy is no intellectual. So what? And he cuts down a few icons. Who in Boston wants to hear that Bobby Orr drilled as many women as pucks, or maybe made a few exploitive business deals? But what he says rings true. Maybe that is why the book has gotten more than its fair share of thumbs down. He lays everybody up for a hit, no matter how big they are.
Phil is a jerk. He doesn't know it so it makes the book that much more amusing. But no matter what you think of him, he has passion. At least fire burns in his blood and he lives life fully, which is more than you can say for most people.
It's a fast read and takes up so little time how can anybody be sorry they invested the energy? If you love hockey, played in the streets, the rink, or just watched Espo in the bars, the book is worth the read.
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