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Mike Commito and his babies: Hockey 365 and Zoe
It's a new year, which means another 365 days around the sun for our planet. It also means you can learn 365 new stories about hockey from Mike Commito.
In the fall of 2018, Dundurn Press released Commito's Hockey 365: Daily Stories from the Ice.
The promotional material sets it up well: “A few seconds can make a game, even a season, and behind each play is a piece of history. Mike Commito marks every day of the year with a great moment in hockey and shows how today's game is part of an ongoing story that dates back to its origins on frozen ponds.From the National hockey League’s first games in 1917 to Auston Matthews's electrifying four-goal debut for the Maple Leafs in 2016, Hockey 365 has something for everyone and is sure to give you a better appreciation for the sport we all love.”
The 33-year-old Commito, who is Director of Applied Research at Cambrian College by day, said that a book was on his To Do list.
“I always knew I wanted to write a book, but after hemming and hawing about writing a book for a university press based off my disseration, I finally decided that life's too short not to write about what you love. For me, that's hockey,” he said via email. “I had been writing about hockey history for a few years and had been sharing daily hockey history tidbits on my Twitter account @mikecommito, so a hockey history book project that showcased 365 different hockey history stories, one for every day of the year seemed like a natural fit.”
With the help of his agent, Arnold Gosewich, they shopped around the daily stories concept. “Dundurn Press was very enthusiastic about the idea and it's been a pleasure working with them ever since,” Commito said.
The final version of Hockey 365 is not exactly what he set out to do. “When I initially conceived the project, I envisioned it as a mixture of longform essays and shorter stories,” he revealed. “However, once we started going, we realized that it made more sense to keep every story around the same length and limit each one to a page. I think it makes for a better layout and read.”
He's honest about a pretty big oops moment too.
“When I first submitted the completed manuscript, my acquisition editor told me I had missed a day. My heart sank. I couldn't believe that, after all that work, I forgot one,” he said. “Luckily, the missing day was November 16th and that happened to be the day in 2003 the Flames acquired Miikka Kiprusoff from the Sharks in exchange for a second-round pick that turned out to be Marc-Edouard Vlasic, so that turned out to be a pretty nice addition to the book.
A couple of stories got switched around too, so he's started a build towards Hockey 365: Vol. II. If early reaction is any indication, it could happen.
“I have been overwhelmed by the response. It's been incredible to hear from so many people who have bought the book for themselves or for family and to hear that they're enjoying it,” said Commito. “With so many great hockey books out there, especially during the holiday season, it means the world to know that people thought enough of my work and Hockey 365 to spend their money on it or share it with their loved ones.”
Besides on his Twitter feed, you might have already come across Commito's name in relation to the Sudbury Wolves of the Ontario Hockey League, where he's the team historian, or with the Los Angeles Kings of the NHL, for whom he contributes content, as well as freelance pieces at Sportsnet, VICE Sports, The Athletic, and The Hockey News.
Originally from London, Ontario, he moved around a lot with his family, until settling in Sudbury, Ontario, in 2000, and putting down roots of his own. “It's where I've called home now for nearly the last two decades and it's where I am raising my family,” he said, launching into a tale about his favourite team, the Toronto Maple Leafs. “My daughter Zoe was born two weeks before the start of the 2016-17 season, so the first Leafs game that she 'watched' was Auston Matthews' four-goal debut. Quite the start for her Maple Leafs fandom, should she choose to follow in her father's footsteps.”
Maybe Zoe will be a writer too.
CBC's Canada Reads revealed its longlist for 2019, on it is a hockey book from a couple of years back. The Crazy Game, the memoir from former NHL goaltender Clint Malarchuk, written with Dan Robson, and published by HarperCollins in 2014, made the cut. The idea behind this year's Canada Reads: From thought-provoking fiction to inspiring memoirs, this year's longlisted books speak to the theme: One Book To Move You. Spanning separations and reconciliations, wars of the past and present, personal histories and imagined futures, these titles will disturb and disrupt, inspire and incite, and move readers to feel, to think and to act.” For the rest of the (non-sporting) longlist, click here: https://www.cbc.ca/books/here-is-the-canada-reads-2019-longlist-1.4969716
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