[Every day this week at Japers' Rink, we'll be sharing a new excerpt from Bruce Boudreau's forthcoming autobiography "Gabby - Confessions of a Hockey Lifer" (co-written by Tim Leone). The book, published by the good folks over at Potomac Books, Inc., hits book store shelves in October, 2009, but you can (and should) pre-order it now via Amazon.com or BN.com.
Our second excerpt is a glimpse at Boudreau as a young player...]
During my first pro year I was an undisciplined twenty-year-old who was all about having fun. Here’s a personal message for young players: Use Bruce Boudreau as an example of what not to do so you don’t have to live with the regrets that have haunted me. Paul Holmgren was absolutely right. My priorities were wrong, and I wasn’t serious enough about the game. That’s strange in light of how serious I am about the game now; my whole life is the game.
My girlfriend, Mary, visited Johnstown to see me play. That provided another way to highlight my lackadaisical attitude. She was in the stands with twelve hundred people, so she was easy to spot. I was on the bench, shouting, "Watch, honey, I’m going to score this shift." Then I’d score. Really stupid, show-off stuff. As a coach, I’d get mad at a player who did that now. I would really flip out. Despite behaving so unprofessionally, I had almost two points a game with the Jets. The sad fact is I could have had three a game if I had really tried.
I wish I knew then what I know now. It wasn’t until I became a minor-league veteran that I realized the importance of working out like a fiend and staying in great shape. It kills me that I basically wrecked my whole playing career my first year in pro hockey. I firmly believe I should have been in the NHL for many years. I ruined it by goofing off, taking everything too easily, and focusing too much on having a good time and too little on my job. It was dreadful.
The game came too easy for me, and it caught up when I turned pro. I was playing with guys who were older and were men. You had to be fit and compete hard, especially because I was a smaller player. I was a snot-nosed rookie with a big ego. That’s why vets like Dave Keon didn’t like me. I didn’t like Keon either.
In Minnesota, Keon and Johnny McKenzie took me aside every day and said, "You’re coming to lunch with us." We’d go to lunch—I’m thinking this is a great deal—and they never spoke to me once. They’d leave and make me pay the bill. That went on about four or five days in a row before I told them I wouldn’t go with them anymore.
I was dumb back then. I wish to God I could change it all, but I can’t. I learned too hard and too late that no matter how talented you think you are, there’s no free lunch in pro hockey.
[Tomorrow: Why we're lucky Bruce Boudreau is here in D.C. at all.]