What’s up everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. This time, I present to you another book review, as I explore one of the newest hockey books on the market, in Sean Avery’s “Ice Capades: A Memoir of Fast Living and Tough Hockey”.
If you’re new to this site, I have reviewed countless hockey books on this blog. You can essentially Google “<Insert Book Title Here> BlueCollarBlueShirts Book Review” for numerous hockey book reviews. Yes, I know that’s ghetto, but I’m a one man show here. One of these days I’ll get the time to make a book review section and have everything linked in one place!
When Sean Avery first announced his autobiography (he calls it a memoir) nearly a year ago, I was excited for it. Like many New York Ranger fans, I thought that if the book was even half as exciting as his playing days, you knew it would be a good one. True to his character and expectations, Sean Avery brought the goods to “Ice Capades.”
Going into this book, I had a feeling that if you weren’t a Sean Avery or a New York Ranger fan, then you might not enjoy this book as much, as if you are a fan of Avery or the Rangers. When I finally finished the last page, I somewhat felt that way. The reason I mention this, is because if you’re not a Ranger or Avery fan, and have somehow stumbled onto this review, I want to be clear from the top, that I was a fan of Avery and I am a fan of the Rangers.
What makes a book great for a reader, is that when you finish the book, you’re actively seeking out more information about the book & seeing what others thought. When I finished “Ice Capades”, I immediately read a ton of reviews because I wanted to see if others felt the same way about this book as I did. I also wanted to see what what non-Ranger fans, who may have read the book, had to say.
Not gonna lie – reading the negative reviews were more entertaining than the positive reviews. I say that just because you can see the contempt from people who already had a preconceived notion of what they were going to write before they even read the book. I mean, I read one review where the whole review was about Avery & his shenanigans, but failed to mention Avery’s side of the stories!
All in all, the reviews from the “professionals”, were mixed and wide ranging. The reason I put the word “professionals” in quotes is because after all, Sean Avery himself, reached out to me, to say that I was a “dude with a blog”. He’s not wrong though.
To me, Sean Avery was always one of those players that you love if he was on your team, but hated if he was on the other team. However, readers who may have a negative opinion about Avery, should put those feelings on hold and give “Ice Capades” a chance.
I know many of you are familiar with this site and my work and some of you may not be. When I say I have read 300+ hockey books, I am not bullshitting you. When I tell you that “Ice Capades” is now on my personal Top 5 list, it means something, because I’ve had read a wide array of books. (Three other Ranger related books are on my Top 5 list, and after checking out “Ice Capades”, check out “When the Rangers Were Young” by Frank Boucher, “Playing with Fire” by Theo Fleury and “Thin Ice” by Larry “Ratso” Sloman.)
I am aware that in this ADD world, many people don’t have the time or patience for books. Some people who have interest in books, but can’t dedicate the time to read them, opt for audio books. That said, if you read one hockey related book this year, make it “Ice Capades”
Compared to other autobiographies, (Again, Avery calls it a “memoir”, which I’ll get to below) “Ice Capades” is a fast paced book with no dull moments. Many other autobiographies or biographies in general, spend the first 100 pages on a player’s childhood, playing shinny in a random town like Owen Sound, and some family stuff that you will forget an hour after reading. In “Ice Capades”, Avery gets right into it, as the book begins with his days when he was breaking in with Redwings.
You know a book is good when you don’t know what excerpts to include in a review. The book is just full of stories and interesting opinions. As you’ll see below, instead of using all the juicy stuff on Brodeur or Torts, there were other things that grabbed my attention more.
If you’re not familiar with me, I worked in the wrestling business for 10 years. To me, Sean Avery, the hockey player, was a character right out of “WWE Monday Night Raw”. In “Ice Capades”, Avery admits that a lot of what he did was for show. Like a professional wrestler, Avery found difficulties in being Sean Avery the human being and Sean Avery the hockey player. While he was able to eventually go in and out of character, the hockey media could never see what he was doing.
Sean Avery knew how to market and make a name for himself, without being a criminal. Whether you liked Avery’s style of play or not, you can’t argue with his abilities to promote himself. I mean, Exhibit A is this book itself. The fact that I’ve seen more publicity for this book, than any other hockey book in recent memory, speaks volumes.
“Ice Capades” is full of random raw truths about the league, the game and the teams Avery played for. While at times it felt like Avery tooted his own horn too much (If you had a $1 for every time Avery mentioned people chanted his name at M$G, you would be able to afford season tickets), Avery also isn’t shy to cast himself in a bad light either.
If you’re a NYer, no explanation is necessary and if you’re not a NYer, no explanation may do, but as a NYer & a Ranger fan, reading about how Sean Avery took to NY like a fish in water, was fun to read about. Knowing that Avery loved being a Ranger and the Ranger fans, I mean, how could you not like the guy? Very often, sports are our escape and we live vicariously through these athletes. Hearing Avery’s tales of playing in NY and living in NY itself, were a treat.
Sean Avery, always his own best promoter (many athletes could learn from him), has done a ton of media and interviews for this book. One buzzword he’s used a lot is the word “memoir”. While this book is essentially an autobiography of Avery’s NHL career, to Avery, it’s a memoir.
As mentioned above, I saw many negative reviews about how Avery saw things. I do not share those same feelings. While I do not agree with everything Avery said in this book, who am I or anyone else, to argue or debate HIS STORY? You may not agree with things Avery says either, but you can’t deny that he is opining on the events through his eyes.
Akin to the pro wrestling “shoot interview”, Avery is telling stories from his point of view. For media members and fans alike, we were not there for these stories. All we can do is listen to Avery’s stories, and take it for what it is, a story from the viewpoint of Sean Avery.
Case in point. I do not agree with Avery’s opinions on John Tortorella or Henrik Lundqvist. To me, Tortorella is a successful coach and a winner. Henrik Lundqvist is not a winner. I’m not gonna revisit my whole spiel on Lundqvist here. However, you can read the archives for my stuff on Hank. That said, if you’re new, essentially his contract sucks in the salary cap era and he’s extremely mediocre for the salary paid.)
However, when reading Avery recollect his time with those men, I enjoyed Avery’s take. Again, I’m just “a dude with a blog” and have my opinion from what I see and read. Avery was there and you get his opinion on those men, many other people in sports and the NHL in general, in “Ice Capades”.
In fact, here are a few pages that really jumped at me:
(The following photos are from “Ice Capades” and the property of Penguin Random House.)
When I told you Sean Avery was a master of promoting (and really, the Florida Panthers could use some help there, just check out my latest blog on my trip to Sunrise, Florida for more) I wasn’t joking.
BlueCollarBlueShirts.com reader, and my friend, Travis Jackson, had an interesting encounter with Avery.
If you haven’t seen by now, and if you’re a hockey fan, how can you miss it, Avery has been all over the place promoting this book. He’s signing books at random book stores then tweeting out the location of where you can find the book. He’s doing live chats with fans to promote the book. He’s on national morning television shows to promote the book. Really, I can’t hammer this point home enough – the NHL could really learn from Avery on how to P-R-O-M-O-T-E!
Avery also found another way to promote the book – by meeting a fan off of a Twitter exchange.
Now when I tell you the story, all I can say is that I’m not aware of any other athlete that’s ever done this. Maybe someone else has done it before, but to my knowledge, Avery is the only person to have done this.
Travis, who lives in Upstate, NY, which may as well be in Guam for this Long Islander/Daily NYC Commuter, doesn’t come to the City often. He bought Avery’s book and decided to read it on the long train ride to Penn Station, this past Tuesday night. While attending the Rangers victory over the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday, Travis tweeted his pleasure with the book & said it would be great if he could get the book autographed. Avery immediately responded.
As you can see in the pics above, Avery “slid into the DM’s of Travis”, and Avery told him where he could meet him after the Ranger game. I don’t know what Avery has going on, what his schedule is, etc, but he was accommodating Travis, by waiting until after the Ranger/Vegas game, to meet up.
Keep in mind – TRAVIS ALREADY BOUGHT THE BOOK. It’s not like Avery is out on the corner, peddling books like an Asian woman selling bootleg DVD’s for Five Dorrah! No, Avery took a few minutes out of his night, to leave whatever he was doing, get dressed for the cold, and meet Travis. Travis now has a great story to tell for life, in addition to his picture and autograph with Avery.
THESE ARE THE STORIES THAT NEED TO BE TOLD! Far too often, negative stories plague the sports media. When you hear an athlete going out of his way to make a fan’s night, man, that is the stuff more people should hear.
I don’t know if Avery has done this for anyone else and I can tell you this, while he’s a publicity whore (that’s a compliment), it’s not like the NY Post, NHL.com or Bob McKenzie is going to run a story on the interaction between Travis and Avery. Avery just wanted to help out a fan. He already had the money of Travis. I just thought this story was great and I hope when people are burying Avery for other things, they at least say, “but yeah, he’s still a good guy.”
Overall, this was a MUST READ book for any Rangers fan. If you’re just a fan of the NHL and the personalities in the league, this is a book you should put on your list.
You can purchase “Ice Capades” at book stores. Then again, are there even book stores anymore? The easiest and fastest way to purchase “Ice Capades” is to buy it off Amazon.com, and the direct link for the book is here: https://www.amazon.com/Ice-Capades-Memoir-Living-Hockey-ebook/dp/B01NCU2W38
I can’t recommend this book enough. If you read this review and decided to get this book, feel free to let me know what you thought about this book as well.
Thanks for reading!
“Let’s Go Rangers”
@NYCTHEMIC on the tweet tweet gimmick machine