Fire on Ice
Glynn A. Leyshon is a professor of physical education at the University
of Western Ontario, a former weekly columnist for the London Free Press
and author of 18 Sporting Stories.
Can a young pup, not yet 20 years old, have a biography written already?
He can if he is 6’5" tall, weighs 228 lbs, is one of the best hockey
players in the world, and is named Eric Lindros.
This book details the short, fishbowl existence of the latest hockey
wunderkind, and it is surprisingly interesting. Starkman has gathered
viewpoints from a number of people (apart from Lindros himself)
including mother Bonnie, father Carl, and brother Brett, along with
assorted teammates, coaches, landladies, and agents.
The approach is loosely chronological. Within most chapters, Lindros
gives his impression of a situation (such as moving from London to
Toronto, or playing in the world championships) and this is followed by
“Other Voices” (one or more observers commenting on the topic at
hand). This device is quite effective. When 16-year-old Eric was drafted
by the Soo, he made the news by refusing to play on a team 500 miles
from his family and home. He opted instead to play in Detroit in a
lesser league. We get a view of this situation from Eric himself, his
concerned mother, his anxious landlady, and his exultant new coach, who
can hardly believe his good fortune.
The big story, of course, is Lindros’s refusal to report to the
Quebec Nordiques after being their number-one draft pick and the first
pick overall in the NHL, in 1991. The inner turmoil he
suffers—including the hard-to-believe scenario of this giant weeping
in his brother’s arms—constitutes the book’s climax. It makes a
rather poignant statement: this book is less about a hockey player than
it is about an early-maturing, talented young man in a competitive,
devouring system. Lindros’s family support has made it possible for
him to survive thus far, but the fame and acclaim have not been without
price—public vilification for him and his family, threats, and
physical abuse. And all this to someone not yet 20. Only in Canada, you