Saturday, February 02, 2008
BOOK REVIEW: Jonesy
Some athletes are born. Others are made.
And then there's Keith Jones.
Either Keith Jones is completely sand bagging people about his athletic ability (maybe) or being a professional hockey really doesn't require it's players to be physically fit (not likely).
The unlikelihood of Keith Jones ever becoming an NHL player is borne of the fact that it is unusual for a Canadian born hockey player to not play Major Junior Hockey in Canada and still make it to the NHL.
He did, however, play four years of college hockey for Western Michigan and was a better-than-a-point-per-game player in a challenging conference (CCHA). In Jones' senior year, he had 56 points in 35 games. For reference, RJ Umberger, playing in the same conference while at Ohio State and considered a big-time prospect when he was drafted, had 53 points in 43 games, so Jonesy really was a much better player than he ever lets on.
It's important to establish Jones' credentials because as you read this book, Keith Jones goes out of his way to ridicule himself and almost seems surprised that someone that was so poorly conditioned an athlete, as Jonsey allegedly was, could play hockey at it's highest level.
Jonesy begins his story at home in Brantford, Ontario and walks the reader through the timeline of his life and career. In doing so, he does it in a conversational tone that reads more like a transcript of an interview than it does a carefully crafted biography. As a matter of fact, it is difficult to ascertain what, precisely, co-author John Buccigross (hockey writer for ESPN.com) contributed to this book. Further concerning is the fact that the book (at least the copy I had) had several actual typographical errors, but that speaks more to poor editing than it does anything else.
Of interest to Philly fans is his time with the Flyers during the end of the Eric Lindros era. Jones roomed with Lindros on the road and I would be willing to bet that if Jones wanted to dish some dirt on Lindros, he could have done so. He certainly didn't do that in this book. If you read between the lines when he talks about Lindros, however, one can sort of ascertain how Jonesy (and the other veterans on that 1999-2000 team) felt about the Big E. I guess they paired Lindros with Jones because I guess they thought Jones might loosen up the always seemingly uptight superstar, but it is obvious some of the veterans from that team found Lindros to be, at best, a really good player who had no business being the captain of a hockey team. Another interesting item: anyone thinking of hiring Craig Ramsey as a head coach may want to read this book and consider another option.
Also, don't expect to see anything about one of the best underground urban legend of the late 90's in Flyerland: the alleged tryst between Lindros and the wife of Rod Brind'Amour.
Negative criticisms aside, it's a breezy little read that I certainly recommend it for any hockey fan. The ending of the book shows a side of Jonesy that doesn't always come across in his personality as resident wise-ass in the Flyers telecasts and the 610 WIP morning show.
Furthermore, Keith Jones' profits from the book go to Alex's" Lemonade Stand, an organization that raises money for pediatric cancer research - another good reason to go out and buy the book.