Sheldon Kannegiesser with the Los Angeles Kings — 1975.

What readers are saying

When I heard your book was poetry, I said, “no thanks—real hockey players don't write poetry!” But then a friend gave me your ‘Hock and McKey’ poem to read about the roots of ice hockey, and I laughed so hard it made my sides ache! I would never have believed I could have so much fun reading this stuff! I went out immediately and bought several copies of your book for friends who love it!

Dave M., Ontario, Canada

As a woman who's never had an interest in sports and knows absolutely nothing about hockey, it's hard to believe I could enjoy this book so much! It made me laugh out loud and it made me cry (especially your poem “Donuts!” about Tim Horton). I love the rhyme and rhythm of these poems—it's addictive and what's more, you've turned me into a hockey fan!

Leslie B., Santa Barbara, California

I'm a long-time hockey fan and have to admit I've always enjoyed the fights. The way you describe them so vividly and colorfully in your poems ‘The Irish Rebellion,’ and ‘The Mighty Hutch,’ made me feel like I was in the middle of the action. Knowing these fights were actual events is the best part and puts this book over the top!

Robert G., Ventura, California

There are no words I can use to describe the ‘Series of '72’ except that it's absolutely brilliant! Reliving the events of that Series in rhyme was amazing! The colorful and descriptive language is gripping and could only have been written by someone with an intimate, inside knowledge of the game, and a rare gift for the written word.

Jerry L., Ontario, Canada

Pucks and poetry:
Kannegiesser telling hockey tales


August 20, 2009
Former NHLer Sheldon Kannegiesser

Former NHLer Sheldon Kannegiesser will be signing copies of Warriors of Winter from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday at Alkazar's Sports Bar, with fellow former NHLers Bill Barber, Jim Watson, Ab Demarco, Brent Tremblay and Gord Kannegiesser in attendance.

Ken Pagan, The Nugget

Every hockey player has a story or three. And some have a gift of relaying those stories better than others.

Former NHLer Sheldon Kannegiesser has been out of hockey and living in southern California for more than 35 years--but always a hockey player at heart, it turns out.

Now a businessman and occasional motivational speaker, hockey has brought Kannegiesser, 62, back to North Bay with plans to spend the next few months travelling across Canada relaying hockey stories from his NHL playing days in the 1970s.

Kannegiesser, who played nearly 400 games for the Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers, Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks, has just completed writing a book, Warriors of Winter: Rhymes of a Blueliner Balladeer.

He played in the NHL when hockey was still more sport than multi-billion-dollar business; an era when players were characters whom people could relate to more so than today's multi-millionaires.

Thus, Kannegiesser's era produced some great hockey stories, some of which are told in Warriors of Winter.

The book unfolds as a collection of rhyme and rhythm poems, each with a preamble illustrating a unique first-hand experience from Kannegiesser's playing days.

Hockey stories are perennial," Kannegiesser said in a recent interview. And every hockey player you talk to has 10 or 20 hilarious stories. I found I could take those and put them to rhyme and rhythm.

The key thing about the majority of these stories is they're all true. And I just made them fun."

A wide range of topics brings the reader closer to experiencing the day-to-day routine of an NHL road trip, the blow-by-blow of a hockey fight or the jitters of a rookie's first game.

Kannegiesser also shares his rhythmic take on some of the legends he played with and against, such as Bobby Orr, Tim Horton, Gordie Howe and Dave 'Tiger'Williams.

There are also some North Bay ties, with the Warriors of Winter ballad recounting his days growing up and chasing the hockey dream with older brother, Gord, who also reached the NHL.

As well, Wrong Way Nipper recounts the tale of North Bay's Ab Demarco breaking a leg in a collision with haywire Omaha Knights teammate Billy Knibbs.

The Series of 72 revisits each game of the pivotal eight-game series between Canada and the Soviet Union and the impact it had on Canadians, while Donuts touches on his relationship with Tim Horton, and Kannegiesser's reluctance to get in on the ground floor with Horton in the doughnut business.

Kannegiesser has done a fair amount of motivational speaking in his post-playing career, but he found people often connected with his poetry and story-telling. He had begun working on a pair of other motivational books when he realized hockey was the subject that had the most impact.

And while Californians love their football and baseball, getting back to Canada was important for someone telling hockey stories.

It dawned on me, if you played 12 years in the NHL and Canadians love their hockey stories . . . stop, take your time and write a book that Canadians are going to embrace," Kannegiesser said. So that's what I did."

The book, which has just been published, is not available in bookstores. It can be purchased online at, as well as at book signings and speaking engagements.

Kannegiesser has a few events lined up through next month and into the fall and he's hopeful of rekindling some hockey connections that will take him across the country. Next month, for instance, he'll be a part of the 60th anniversary reunion of the Kitchener Rangers.

He found that working on the book has already helped rekindle some old hockey friendships.

I've lived in southern California for the last 35 years and I've been involved in business and away from hockey and haven't been to an NHL game in 20 years," he said.

So you do get away from it. What's been nice about this is contacting guys like Bryan 'Bugsy'Watson and talking to those guys on the phone again and touching base and sharing a few laughs. It's been fun."

And so far, reception to the book has been great.

It's really picking up momentum," he said. It's only been a couple of weeks. I had been out of this Canadian hockey culture for so many years that coming back, I wasn't sure (what the reception would be). I thought the book would be popular. It's turning out to be way more popular than I imagined."

This Saturday, he'll be signing copies of the book at Alkazar's Sports Bar on Lakeshore Drive from noon to 6 p. m. He'll be joined by former NHLers Bill Barber, Jim Watson, Ab Demarco, Brent Tremblay and his brother, Gord Kannegiesser.

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