________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 16 . . . . April 4, 2008


Future Greats and Heartbreaks: A Year Undercover in the Secret World of NHL Scouts.

Gare Joyce.
Toronto, ON: Doubleday Canada, 2007.
330 pp., hardcover, $29.95.
ISBN 978-0-385-66440-0.

Subject Headings:
Joyce, Gare.
Hockey players.
Hockey scouts.

Grades 10 and up / Ages 15 and up.

Review by Thomas F. Chambers.

** /4


Gare Joyce, the author of Future Greats and Heartbreaks, is a writer for ESPN The Magazine and a number of other magazines. Prior to Future Greats and Heartbreaks, he wrote a book on baseball and two books on junior hockey, including one on NHL sensation, Sydney Crosby. His latest book is an account of the year he spent embedded as a scout for the NHL's Columbus Blue Jackets before the 2006 entry draft watching potential future NHLers perform. He has, as a result of his efforts, carved out a niche role for himself as a chronicler of junior hockey. Few sports writers can claim as intimate a knowledge of this sport. Canada's recent success as the World Junior Championship should increase the book's appeal.

     Joyce is persistent in the pursuit of his goals. Before the 2006 hockey draft, he spent considerable effort seeking permission from NHL teams to watch their scouts in action. No team was willing to let him observe this ultra secret process until the General Manager of the Columbus Blue Jackets gave him the phone number of the team's amateur scouting director who agreed to his request.

     That such a request was granted is rare. Meetings where teams decide on draft picks are, by their nature, private affairs. By allowing Joyce to attend its meetings, the Blue Jackets broke with tradition. This happening makes Joyce a rare individual. Anyone who is at all interested in the process by which a professional team decides on which players to draft will enjoy Future Greats and Heartbreaks. It will be of special interest to all young players who dream of a professional career (and their parents as well).

     Others may wonder why such a book was written in the first place. An interest in the process by which the skills of a young player are analyzed is quite specialized. While there is considerable interest amongst fans in the draft, itself, many may find Joyce's account of a team's selection process before the draft to be quite boring.

     Joyce's account of the draft conveys much of the drama and emotion felt by the draftees, their families and the scouts. The tension is high and rises as the draft proceeds. Fans who watch the draft on television should find this interesting. There is, in addition, considerable trivia in Future Greats and Heartbreaks about junior hockey. Even devoted fans, however, may find this a bit tedious. Is it worth mentioning, for example, that the Moose Jaw Civic Centre looks "like the inside of a crushed can...that's been dug out of a garbage dump after fifty years." Does anyone but Joyce care if the little known Jason Bonsignore only scored three goals and had 13 assists in 79 NHL games? There must be more interesting hockey lore.

     There is one small error in Future Greats and Heartbreaks. Camp Borden is near Barrie, ON, not Trenton.

     Unfortunately, Future Greats and Heartbreaks has no illustrations. This is a pity. A few photographs of future NHL stars would have increased the book's appeal. Joyce's style is perfect for the intended audience, and his book is suitable for recreational use.


Thomas F. Chambers, a retired college teacher, lives in North Bay, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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