Hockey's Rich History

Hockey's Rich History

Posted on October 9 by Mike Commito in Non-fiction, Recent Releases
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I’ve always wanted to write a book. As a historian, it seemed like a natural extension of the work I had already completed, and the next step towards advancing my career. But, after finishing my dissertation, my enthusiasm for writing a book on the topic I had just spent the previous four years researching and writing about had faded. I no longer wanted to write about how black bears in Ontario were hunted, or how the regulatory process that governed these activities had changed over the years.

Instead, I was fascinated by the history of hockey and soon dutifully took up the task of penning stories about notable moments and milestones in the game’s history. Moreover, with limited job opportunities available in academia, it didn’t make much sense to me to invest an inordinate amount of time writing a book that would be marketed to a scholarly audience if there was little chance of a tenure track position waiting for me on the other side.

Hockey, on the other hand, is something that has fascinated me since I was a youngster. The idea of being able to take the skills I developed as a historian and apply them to a sport I loved, but never mastered, was just too irresistible. As I began to carve out a place for myself as a hockey historian and bring these stories to a popular audience, it increasingly became a passion of mine, taking up almost every waking hour when I wasn’t at work or spending time with my family. I soon longed for the day when I could write a hockey book.

Despite the fact that my love of writing increasingly became more and more intertwined with hockey, I still wrestled with the idea of writing a book about the history of black bear hunting and management – the subject of my PhD. Even though I really had no further interest in pursuing that project, it was a logical offshoot of my 12 years of postsecondary education and, as a result, a hard prospect to shake.

After months of grappling with which pathway I should take, everything became clear to me on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. While vacationing with my family in February 2017, I brought along the autobiography of Val James, the first African-American player in the NHL. One early morning, when it was my turn to claim our spot on the beach, I brought Black Ice with me. As I thumbed through the pages, I distinctly remember thinking to myself that I wanted to write a hockey book.

It was in that moment, as the waves rolled onto the shore, that I realized life is too short not to write about what you love. For the remainder of the trip, with a cerveza in one hand, I scrawled out ideas for how I would make my book a reality. When I returned home, I put all my efforts into inking a book deal. The rest, they say, is history. Hockey 365 may have started off as an impulse on vacation, but it’s actually the culmination of years of hockey writing and the realization of a goal I have always had.

Mike Commito

Posted by KathrynB on November 14, 2017
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Mike Commito

Mike Commito is a hockey historian and writer. His work has appeared on the Athletic, Sportsnet, and VICE Sports, and in the Hockey News. He lives in Sudbury, Ontario.