There is something refreshing in the title of a recent hockey book by Jerry Hack.
Most hockey books focus on success, while Hack, who did well-enough in senior hockey, admits in the title he never quite achieved the heights he may have dreamed of.
Welcome to a story of try, have fun, and you might not make it; Memoir of a Hockey Nobody: They said I couldn’t make the NHL, so I went out and proved them right!
Hack is interesting in that he wasn’t playing hockey before he could walk like most hockey players who finally get to the point of writing a book about their ice exploits.
So given that the title of the book hinting at Hack not making the big time, why did he decide to pen the book
“It was kind of a lark,” he said. “I had been posting stories and pictures of my playing days on Facebook. They became quite popular and a few people said that I should write a book.
“I wrote the first couple of chapters and let my wife read them. She said that it didn’t suck and that I should continue. “
But in the end it was family that made tackling the book a project Hack wanted to take on.
“What really got me convinced is realizing that I didn’t really know what my parents upbringing was like,” said Hack. “They had both passed on in the last few years and I was curious to ask them, but I couldn’t. I thought of my own daughter. She’s 12 and has no interest in hearing about my upbringing. But I didn’t want to leave this life without her knowing my story so I wrote the rest of the book. I figured if she was the only one to ever read it that I would be happy with that.
“But selling a million copies would definitely not hurt my feelings.”
So, was it easy to write once Hack took on the challenge?
“This is where I feel a little guilty,” he said. “I know that a lot of authors put their heart and soul into writing their books. It can be a gut wrenching and years long experience.
“Mine kind of wrote itself. I have a really good memory for details and I basically wrote it off the top of my head. It took only two months to write. I was driving my wife batty because we would be sleeping in the middle of the night and all of the sudden I would bolt up and have to run downstairs to the computer because I remembered something that had to go in the book.
“I learned early on not to trust myself to remember it in the morning.
“But overall the writing process was easy for me and came very organically.”
Still, there was the reality reflection can bring to an author.
“If you made me choose the most challenging thing, I would have to say basically reliving my life over again,” offered Hack. “All the happy and sad and painful memories came exploding into my brain all at once. It was very cathartic. I had to deal with all the bad stuff that happened to me growing up-my relationship with my Dad especially. As well as other things I share in the book.”
In the end Hack is proudest of the truth he included.
“In my humble opinion, it is the honesty,” he said. “I wrote it from the heart and I think that message is conveyed in the book. I was cognizant not to try to be the hero of my own story. I didn’t embellish or make anything up. It comes directly from my memory. Even if some of the details are wrong, it’s the way I remembered it. I wanted the people who are mentioned in the book to say, “Yup, I was there and that is exactly what happened.”
The story never got to talk of the pros, Hack never made it that far, yet his story of a roving goaltender, is Canadian to the core, from commercial leagues in B.C. to time with the senior Assiniboia Rebels in Saskatchewan. Hack played because he loved hockey.
The book again showed just how interconnected the sport is too.
Hack was netminder for the Rebels in a playoff series against my hometown Tisdale Ramblers a season after I moved to Yorkton. It made me smile as I read the chapter recognizing I missed covering the series by mere months.
But back to Hack’s view of his book when asked if he was satisfied with the overall story he created?
“Yes and no,” he said. “I couldn’t be more pleased with the reaction the book is getting, I’m getting so many messages of congratulations and positive reviews but I’m sure that every author has second thoughts about what they have written.
“I have read the book so many times now that it doesn’t have the same effect on me than someone who is reading it for the first time. I left a lot of stuff out of the book, simply because I didn’t want it to be ‘War and Peace’. I tried to keep it relatively short so that someone could read it in one sitting if they felt like doing so. I would like to have put more stories in and maybe if the book is popular enough I will, in the future, write an “expanded version” and put a lot more stories in.”
The book might, at times lacks some detail, but since Hack’s is not a hall of fame career, brevity works for the most part. The result is a rather light and quick, yet relatable story of one player’s love of the game.
The book can be found on various online platforms.