BCBS Update: The Most In-Depth Phil Esposito “Thunder & Lightning” Book Review You Will Ever Read, Classic New York Ranger Stories, Ron Duguay & Farrah Fawcett, Stanley Cup Final Thoughts, Lundqvist Injury, Alex Ovechkin Trade Rumors & More NYR Thoughts and Opinions

    Outside of Bobby Orr’s snoozer of an autobiography, there are many great hockey books out there. This is another one of them.

What’s up everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. As promised, I’m trying to do one blog a week during the Rangers off-season. I know some of you take off from hockey once the Rangers are out, but for me, this free time allows me to catch up on movies, TV, Yankee baseball and in today’s case, another great book.

If you missed my last blog entry, you can check it out here:

MDW Blog: Stanley Cup Finals Set Between PITT/NSH as the Rangers Hit the Golf Course, How To Attend Nashville Predator Games For Free, Lundqvist Gets a Medal Leads to Ranger Fans Overreacting, IIHF/Olympic Hockey, Team USA Woes, Lundqvist’s Subway Etiquette, Hellberg Moves on From NYR, Binge-Worthy TV Shows & Other Random Rumblings & Tidbits

 

Last week, I was able to get the time to read “Thunder & Lightning”, which is the autobiography of Phil Esposito. Written in 2003, there are several stories & occurrences that may make this book feel dated. That said, this book is well worth your time. In fact, it’s a nice companion piece with “THIN ICE”. In case you haven’t seen my “THIN ICE” book review, you can check it out here:

Two Blogs No Cup: Final Thoughts on the NYR 2016-2017 Season and “Thin Ice” Book Review

That said, let’s get into “Thunder & Lightning”.

From time-to-time I see people wearing Phil Esposito’s Rangers jersey. I always knew Esposito hated becoming a Ranger. After reading this book, I still think he hated his time here. Photo Credit: B. Bennett of Getty Images.

In my quest to learn more about the Rangers from the 1970’s, after purchasing “Thin Ice”, that sneaky Amazon.com suggested I pick up Phil Esposito’s “Thunder & Lightning” autobiography. For $1.54 used, I figured what the hell? Going into this book, I thought it would be mostly Boston Bruins stuff. To my delight, the book did a good job talking about Espo’s Ranger years and really went in-depth with the creation of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

After reading this book, this book is a MUST-READ book for any Bolt or Bruin fan. For Ranger fans, who only care about the Rangers, you may be disappointed, but you will be missing out if you skip this book.

While Esposito will always be known as a Boston Bruin, many fans may not realize his journey in creating the Tampa Bay Lightning franchise. Esposito, who is very open in this book, as he honestly admits to cheating on his wife, the drugging & drinking culture of the league during his playing days and his degenerate gambling, also goes in-depth on what it took to make the Lightning a reality. To me, while there were great stories up & down this book, to me, the final 100 pages of Esposito creating the Lightning was the best part about this book. With the Las Vegas Golden Knights entering the league, I found Esposito’s story of founding the Lightning very relevant. More on that to come.

I don’t make any money doing these blogs or doing these book reviews. The purpose of this blog is to share the knowledge I took from this book and hope that some of you guys enjoy it. It’s funny, after doing the “THIN ICE” review, someone emailed me to say Amazon was sold out of the book. I know when I bought it, there were something like 30 or so copies available. That means a bunch of you guys went out and bought the book. It’s been great discussing that book with several of you on email & Facebook. I’m hoping the same thing happens for this Esposito book, because it’s another book that I took a lot out of.

Just like the “THIN ICE” book review, I will be posting pictures of pages from “Thunder & Lightning.” In case anyone involved with the publication of this book from 14 years ago is reading this, don’t sue me, I’m plugging your book! For this review, I’ll share some of the key stuff I took out of this book, followed by my thoughts at the end.

In the first few pages of this book, Espo talks about losing his virginity at 12 years old. When I posted this picture on twitter, some people called bullshit. However, think about it, Esposito is 75 years old. Things were different back then. 18 year olds had families. If you go through the course of human history, women in the caveman ages were having kids at 11-12 years old and dying at 28. It’s not unbelievable.

When you start a book talking about breaking out of a hospital to drink with the boys, you know you hooked a reader like me! I wonder how much of the drinking culture has evaporated in today’s NHL.

Drinking & Driving was acceptable many years ago. I also love that if you read any book about Boston and the subject of food comes up, Kowloon’s Chinese Restaurant is always brought up.

I wonder what the snowflakes of today, would think of Espo’s grandfather putting a clothespin on the penis of a minor.

One story that comes off dated in this book. That said, Espo’s prediction was on the money, Lindros never achieved his peak potential because of concussions.

I’ve ranted & raved about why hockey isn’t big in America countless times. Even in the 1950’s, equipment was expensive. I guess that’s unavoidable. NBC Sports not promoting the game right though, that’s on them!

The NHL has always struggled to make money & has never caught on in America like the NFL, MLB & NBA did. If you read any old-timer book, there are always stories like this, about the frugalness & cheapness of NHL owners. Jack Adams is always one of the biggest culprits.

This book is full of inside jokes & Espo’s relationships with many of the stars of that time. Espo & Hull were drinking partners/friends. The same can’t be said about Espo & Orr, as you will find out in this book.

Comparing greatness to Tiger Woods & Barry Bonds is dated in 2017!

I wish a Ranger called out Glen Sather for fucking things up. By the way, Carl Hagelin is about to win his second Cup. But hey, we got EMERSON FUCKING ETEM!

I had tears in my eyes reading this!

This is why you Lundqvist fanboys drive me nuts. YOU HAVE TO WIN!!! IT’S ALL ABOUT WINNING!

Espo would get deep about the Bernie Madoff of hockey, Alan Eagleson, in this book. However, due to Eagleson’s stranglehold on Bobby Orr, it strained a potential friendship with Orr & Espo. Espo would later talk about how after Eagleson was exposed, Orr & Espo were able to patch things up and have a bond today.

An Andre The Giant PENIS story!

Something you will learn if you study hockey in the 1970’s-1980’s, every American & Canadian player called Russians “commies” & Swedish players were always considered to be soft. The same applies today, but the liberal snowflakes get bent out of shape when you say it, even if you’re joking. However, it’s ok for Bill Maher to say the n-word & for Kathy Griffin to post a treasonous picture.

Espo talks about the Summit Series. Many of us Americans forget how Canada also had a strained relationship with the untrustworthy vodka drinking commies.

Another one of the real LAUGH OUT LOUD stories from this book.

Espo talks about the biggest trade ever, up to that point in time, in Rangers history. Even when you look back at it now, who really won this trade, if you consider WINNING the end-all? Both the Bruins & Rangers would lose to the Canadians in the Stanley Cup Finals. Would Ratelle & Park be what the Rangers needed to beat the Habs? Could Espo have helped Boston win? Did the Rangers give up too much? Did the Bruins fuck with their chemistry? We’ll never know, but this is one of the biggest trades in NHL history.

While Espo would log 6 seasons with the Rangers, coach the team, work the broadcast booth and become General Manager of the franchise, you get from this book that Espo never liked being a Ranger. The Rangers were a job. The Bruins were his passion. Even to this day, if you read Espo interviews, he is still bitter about the trade. He feels the Bruins could’ve won at least 5 (instead of 2) Cups in the 1970’s if the Bruins didn’t fuck things up. Even up to Milt Schmidt’s death, Espo couldn’t forgive him for the trade.

“A lot of the Rangers were drinking” is an understatement, especially if you read “Thin Ice”. Espo would go on to blame the partying environment & ownership not caring about winning for the Rangers dedication & commitment to never winning a Cup.

While Ratso tried to make a hero out of Don Murdoch’s partying in “Thin Ice”, Espo had a different take. I wrote in my “Thin Ice” review that I thought Ratso was wrong, especially in hindsight & knowing how Murdoch’s career wound up. It’s for certain that Espo wasn’t as impressed with Murdoch’s partying as Ratso Sloman.

Snowflakes may be offended by this book.

Walt Tkaczuk and his wife are exactly like Henrik Lundqvist.

Espo could’ve been in “The Godfather”.

To follow up my last blog, here’s a story from 1977 that backs up exactly what I said about Lundqvist winning an IIHF Gold Medal 40 years later. HE BEAT CANADA’S SCRUB TEAM. IN A SHOOT OUT. HOW FUCKING IMPRESSIVE!

Whenever you read a tell-all book & the name Ron Duguay comes up, you get some great stories. FARRAH FAWCETT, the hottest woman in the world in her day, seeked out Doogie!

After reading Espo’s stories of Duguay’s luck with the ladies, I had to ask about Farrah Fawcett. Duguay’s response:

 

I know no one wants to kiss & tell, but the second Ron Duguay writes a tell-all book, I’ll be first in line!

Espo on meeting Hall of Famer Sam Rosen for the first time.

THIS DROVE ME FUCKING NUTS. BUT WAIT, THERE IS MORE!

Granted Neil Smith would land Messier & NYR would win the Cup in 1994. However, imagine a in his prime Messier & Gretzky in 1988? THE RANGERS DO NOT CARE ABOUT WINNING. THIS WILL NEVER CHANGE. ALL THEY CARE ABOUT IS THEIR FUCKING MONEY.

If you didn’t know already, the Manon Rheaume signing was a publicity stunt.

Today, Espo is immortalized by the Tampa Bay Lighting, but you never hear much about it. Then again, why would NBC Sports ever talk about anything non Pittsburgh Penguins? Photo Credit: Tampa Bay Lightning.

As you can tell, this book covers a wide range of topics. From Espo’s playing days in Chicago where he cultivated a friendship with Bobby Hull, all the way to calling games for the Lightning today, no stone is left unturned.

There is a lot I took out of this book and one thing that bothered me was Esposito’s relationship with his family. He would cheat on two of his wives relentlessly. He broke up another marriage, when he broke up the marriage of his current wife. As he got older, the disparity in ages between he & his wives grew as well. I thought he came off as a scumbag for all his philandering, just because it affected the relationships with his kids.

While this book was written in 2003, if you fast forward in time to today, his daughter, Carrie Esposito Selivanov (She married ex-Bolt Alex Selivanov) died in 2012, unexpectedly. His first wife died weeks before his daughter. His grandchildren were stuck in Germany & his eldest grandchild was without parents at a young age, as he was the son of Carrie’s first husband. Phil doesn’t mention his kids much in this book, but how could he, hockey always came first. A great career, but for all of his contributions in hockey, it did take a toll on his family life.

If you can get past Espo being a terrible family man, the hockey stories in this book are well worth your money.  He will go to the grave angry that he didn’t retire as a Bruin. In fact, while it’s not said, I think a psychologist would say that the trade affected Phil forever in every aspect – his family life, his attitude, etc. It also led to Phil creating the Lightning.

The journey of Phil Esposito and the Tampa Bay Lighting is something you must read. Just think, 25 years ago, the buy-in was $50 million. Las Vegas just paid $500 Million. However, Vegas should be a competitive team off the jump, where Tampa (and Ottawa, who entered the league at the same time) were forced to draft fringe fourth liners & 7th defensemen. Espo chronicles his entire process & his thinking during that time.

For the Ranger fans, Espo also talks about his entire tenure with the Rangers & his thoughts of the “Trader Phil” nickname that the press gave him.

The biggest thing I took away from Espo, in regards to the Rangers, is that Rangers management will never care about winning. Owners may change, but the number 1 goal will always remain – milk the fans for all their money.

“Thunder & Lightning”, by Phil Esposito, is available on the cheap at Amazon.com.


Back in 2017, the Stanley Cup Finals are on-going. Photo Credit: NHL.com

Couple of quick shots on this year’s Stanley Cup Finals:

  • I’m glad the guy who threw a catfish on the ice in Pittsburgh had all charges dropped. Imagine getting 6 years for that? That would be some interesting conversation in the prison yard. “What you in for? Rape? Murder? Pedophilia?” “Nah man, I threw a catfish on the ice during a hockey game!”
  • That said, the guy who threw a catfish is now signing autographs. Now it’s gone too far. I miss Dart Man. Remember when he was a thing?!?
  • Just a reminder – not one Top 5 paid goalie has ever won a Stanley Cup in the new salary cap era. Rinne is third highest in the league. “Rookie” Matt Murray, who will probably get his second Stanley Cup, is the 30th highest paid goalie in the league.
  • How big has Matt Murray been? Game 3 aside, he stole Game 2 until Pittsburgh turned it on in the third period. Could he be the Ken Dryden of our generation?
  • Canadian Goalies > European goalies. Always.
  • PK Subban is an interesting human interest story & he does a lot of good. I was happy to see him back up his guarantee in Game 3, even if he didn’t score. I wonder how happy Canadien fans are for him?
  • How unfair is it that Pittsburgh is winning playoff games because of rookies in Jake Guentzel & Matt Murray? The rich get richer.
  • While I want Nashville to win, but think Pittsburgh will win, it won’t bother me to see Hagelin get his second Cup. Excellent trade Senile Sather!
  • Will there be an OT game in this years SCF?
  • Please stop with the “hot takes” comparing NHL vs NBA playoffs. There is no comparison.
  • Give credit to Pittsburgh & their front office. It’s tough to win the Stanley Cup. It’s even tougher to win it back-to-back in the salary cap era. It’s not just the Pittsburgh names carrying the team, they are getting contributions from everyone. Tough to swallow & accept as a Rangers fan.
  • Pens in 6.

If this was the NBA, Ovechkin & Lundqvist would team up. Photo Credit: NHL.com

From USA TODAY:

The Washington Capitals won’t strip the captaincy from Alex Ovechkin, however general manager Brian MacLellan appeared to be open to trading the All-Star forward in the future if the right deal materialized.

MacLellan told reporters on Tuesday that Ovechkin is “a big part of the franchise” and moving him doesn’t “make sense from an organizational point of view,” although he added a caveat.

“Maybe at some point if there’s a legitimate hockey deal that came available, but I don’t know that’s where we are at right now,” MacLellan said via The Associated Press. “I think he’s got a history here. He’s a big part of the franchise and he’ll continue to be going forward.”

Ovechkin, 31, has four seasons left on his 13-season, $124 million contract. His contract carries a $9.5 million cap hit.

The three-time regular-season MVP scored 33 goals this season, the second-lowest output in a full season of his 12-season NHL career. His 313 shots on goal also represented the second fewest for a full season. (The 2012-13 season featured a condensed 48-game schedule.) He was dropped to the Caps’ third line as Washington fell to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round of the playoffs.

The Capitals have not advanced past the second round since 1998.

In my dream/fantasy world, I would love to see the Rangers trade Derek Stepan, Henrik Lundqvist & a first round pick for Braden Holtby, Alex Ovechkin and a second round pick. It will never happen, but a boy can dream!

I’ve talked about this plenty here on this blog, just check the archives if you need verification, but I’m a huge Ovechkin fan, even if he is a commie!

Ovechkin might be had for the right price and while I doubt he will ever go to the Rangers, because I can’t see the Capitals trading him to a division rival, I hope that Rangers GM Jeff Gorton is at least entertaining the idea.

It’s funny, there are a contingent of Capitals fans, who want Ovechkin gone, which is akin to myself & my merry band of Ranger fans that want Lundqvist gone from this team. To make a trade happen between teams, the Rangers would have to deal at least $9.5M in contracts to make an Ovechkin trade happen. Lundqvist would be perfect, but the Caps, like any other team, wouldn’t want Lundqvist & his contract, especially with Holtby signed.

The Capitals are going to have a rough go of it. Their window may be closed, as they have a ton of free agents. It’s hard to imagine that TJ Oshie & Kevin Shattenkirk both stay in Washington next season. I don’t know if the Caps will blow it up, but like the Rangers, they just can’t win and they have to make some changes.

The point of all this? It would make my pee-pee excited if Alex Ovechkin, and not Kevin Klein, was wearing number 8 for the Rangers next season! Can you imagine Ovechkin on the dot during the Rangers PP, which has always been a weak point for the team, winding up for a power-play blast? There is probably a .0000000001% chance of this happening, but one can hope!

While Marty St. Louis retired two seasons ago, some Ranger fans wouldn’t mind if the other alternate captains were elsewhere next season. That also includes Rick Nash. Photo Credit: NYR.

As Ranger fans get anxious before the Las Vegas expansion draft, everyone has their idea on how Derek Stepan, Dan Girardi, Marc Staal & Rick Nash will be removed from this team. Even better, many of these people with these ideas, also have the Rangers getting the best players in the league for them. Like my Ovechkin fantasy, that’s what all those articles are – fantasy. It just boggles my mind that some fans think that other teams are salivating for the Rangers worst contracts and in turn, are lining up to give their best players to the Rangers via the trade! Then again, these are the same people, with erect weiners, typing up “THE RANGERS MUST SIGN JOEL LUNDQVIST” blogs. To quote Mike Francesa, “GET LAWST!”

In reality, the Rangers won’t win the Cup next season. They probably won’t win it the year after that, or the year after that and even the year after that. With Henrik Lundqvist and his terrible contract, as long as the NHL adheres to the tight & hard salary cap, the Rangers have no shot.

In addition, as we all know, Rangers management/ownership does not care about winning. They are laughing at all their season subscribers, who just received one of the biggest price hikes in recent memory! People are lining up to spend the most in the league for an inferior product. As long as M$G is sold out every night, Dolan and company could give two shits less if the Rangers win a Cup or not.

Just think, the Rangers haven’t won a Cup since 1994 and in response, the Rangers just keep raising and raising ticket prices because they know their Blueshirt addicts will pay whatever it is to get their fix. I for one, will be doing more Ranger road games than nights at M$G next season.

Instead of a “Jordan face”, Lundqvist should get the “Ewing face”, since both guys could never win a championship in M$G.

From CBS Sports:

After announcing Saturday that he suffered an injury during Sweden’s international gold-medal run, Lundqvist and the New York Rangers confirmed to the NHL that the longtime goalie will spend between four and six weeks recovering from a Grade 1 MCL sprain.

Lundqvist was not able to lift the Rangers past the Ottawa Senators in the Stanley Cup playoffs this season, but he isn’t expected to miss any significant time in preparing for another postseason run in 2017-18 because of the injury, according to the league.

The Rangers confirmed a report by Swedish website expressen.se and said they don’t expect any issues with Lundqvist going forward.

I hope beating the Scrub Squad from Canada was worth it. We all know the diva will be hurt next season, and if Raanta is gone, who knows who will carry the team while Lundqvist is out hurt & has his usual terrible stretch of games when he’s healthy. Prepare your “BUT HE ALWAYS STARTS OFF SLOW” excuses now. Of course, those excuses always ignores the way he finishes – Cupless.

A loyal reader of this blog hooked me up big-time!

A big thanks/stick taps to Michael Jurkowski who sent me a bunch of classic Ranger games on DVD. The DVDs include 8 games from 1974-1986, including games from the 1979 Cup run team.

This hockey season is almost over, but I’m looking forward to watching some of these games with my friends, while drinking a beer or twenty. If I feel so inspired, maybe I’ll do a RETRO GAME REVIEW. Maybe I’ll even throw in a PULL DAVIDSON joke!

That’s about it for this week. I got Jeremy Roenick’s autobiography next on my shelf. If you have any interesting hockey books to recommend, send them my way.

As always,

Let’s Go Rangers!

Sean McCaffrey

BULLSMC@aol.com

@NYCTHEMIC on the tweeter machine

Comments

  1. Seeing how the rangers passed up on Gretzky and messier in 1988 shows no wonder why the rangers have only won one cup since 1940. Same applies with the Knicks not having won since 1973 as during their most recent sustainably good period of success, the NBA helped the Knicks get Patrick Ewing in a controversial lottery and they still won no titles during the Ewing era. Seems like these issues were common long before the Dolans bought the Knicks and Rangers. Bad ownership is also a common issue with the jets, mets, pre 2016 cubs, pre 2004 Red Sox, clippers, eagles, lions, Arizona cardinals, maple leafs, etc.

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