On the Road: An Inside View of Life with an NHL Team


349 pages
Contains Photos
ISBN 1-895629-51-9
DDC 796.962'64'09713541





Reviewed by Albert Stray

Albert Stray is librarian and manager of the Streetsville Public


On the Road begins in January 1995, on the day the player lockout ended
in New York City. It ends at the Leafs draft table in Edmonton the
following July. Toronto sportscaster Howard Berger took advantage of the
shortened 1994–95 NHL season to fulfil a hockey fantasy. He traveled
with the Toronto Maple Leafs on their away trips to the other 11 cities
that make up the Western Conference. His aim was to give fans a
behind-the-scenes glimpse—not an exposé, he stresses—at a famous
hockey team away from home.

Berger writes the way he talks on radio—with enthusiasm. He begins
his travel diary by recapping his earliest memories of seeing the Leafs
on the road. A sample travel itinerary for a March trip to the West
Coast is included. In eight days, the team played in San Jose, Anaheim,
Los Angeles, and Vancouver. With each stop along the way, the author
fleshes out the players, coaches, officials, and other media
personalities we normally see or hear only through the filter of radio
or television. Each city and/or arena triggers for Berger memories of
hockey, baseball, and football: in Vancouver, it’s the 1971 Grey Cup
game and Leon McQuay’s fumble; in St. Louis it’s Joe Bowen’s
experience of sharing a bath with a cockroach during the Ballard regime.

Toronto’s season ended on May 19, when Chicago eliminated them from
the playoffs. As the players cleared out their lockers the following
day, Berger interviewed the coach, Pat Burns, and star player, Doug
Gilmour. Both interviews are included. Brief biographies and photos
(when available) of the players and coaches conclude this enjoyable
book. Regrettably, there is no index to enable quick access to its many
wonderful anecdotes.


Berger, Howard., “On the Road: An Inside View of Life with an NHL Team,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 13, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/1332.