In his hilarious, gritty, and touching debut, Bill Keenan—a hockey star once on the fast-track to the NHL—tells of how he overcame multiple obstacles to find fulfillment and redemption in the strange world of European minor-league professional hockey.
Keenan’s hockey obsession begins as a five-year-old on Lasker Rink in New York’s Central Park—“love at first stride,” as he calls it. He then becomes the youngest, and skinniest, player on the New York Bobcats, a Junior B hockey team. Later, after his hockey career at Harvard doesn’t end as planned—with a fat NHL contract—Keenan decides to play in the minor leagues in Europe, where the glamour of professional sports is decidedly lacking.
Part fish-out-of-water travelogue, part coming-of-age memoir, Odd Man Rush will capture the interest of not just hockey fans, but also fans of good writing. Throughout, Keenan’s deep affection for the game shines through, even as he describes fans who steal players’ clothes from the locker room or toss empty beer cans onto the rink after games. Abusive fans, cold showers, long bus rides—nothing diminishes his love for the sport. “Because that’s the way it works with me and hockey. Even when it’s horrible, it’s wonderful.”
Last time I saw Billy, he stepped on a puck at Harvard practice and almost took my head off with his stick when he fell. His writing won't hurt you, but it will make you laugh.
-Alex Killorn, Forward, Tampa Bay Lightning
Bill Keenan's keen eye for the ice game is unique for its excellent insights. He combines that with an original tale that's matched for its compelling drama by his crisp writing.
-Stan Fischler, author of more than 90 hockey books, and an Emmy Award-winning broadcaster
Giving us more than a hockey book, Bill Keenan fills an arena with wit, passion, and good old story-telling. Both exotic and at the same time homespun and heartfelt, Keenan's story captures the fear and awkwardness of a stranger in a strange land. This guy has been there and the details are just right.
-Bill Gaston, author of six short-story collections, five books including Midnight Hockey, and winner of the CBC Canadian Literary Award, the National Magazine award, the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize, and the Victoria Book Prize
From the prestige of Harvard NCAA to the humbling European minor leagues, an honest and often hilarious look at a side of the hockey world that is not very well known and rarely written about.
-Neil Smith, President and G.M. of the 1994 Stanley Cup Champion New York Rangers, and current NHL analyst for Rogers Sportsnet
This might be Bill Keenan's first book--but it won't be his last. His bang-on descriptions of the characters he played with and the coaches he toiled under will literally have you laughing out loud. Even if you've never been to the leafy Ivy League, or tried to score on (or off!) the ice in Sweden, he has you skating right along with him. One of the best hockey memoirs out there--Keenan definitely scores on this Odd Man Rush.
-Deb Placey, NHL Network and MSG Network hockey host