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

Ex-Ranger combines hockey with poetry

Posted By Jeff Hicks,

September 21, 2009
Former NHLer Sheldon Kannegiesser

Former Kitchener Ranger Sheldon Kannegiesser, shown here at the North Bay arena, has written a book of poetry about hockey.

Photo by Dave Palangio

A doughnut store chain? That's just old-fashioned plain crazy. Sheldon Kannegiesser, then 23, couldn't believe the bizarre business venture 40-year-old Pittsburgh Penguins blueline partner Tim Horton was asking him to buy into that night in St. Louis. “Tim, I don't think it's going to work,” said Kannegiesser on Monday, echoing the words he spoke 40 years ago.

Then, Kannegiesser laughed. At 62, the former Kitchener Rangers defender has his own ridiculous idea. How about poetry about hockey, penned by a North Bay guy who spent 12 years in the pros while reading famed Canadian poet Robert W. Service – the Bard of the Yukon who penned The Cremation of Sam McGee – as he rode the buses and waited in airports. Can't work, right? Not so fast.

We present to you Kannegiesser's first book, Warriors of Winter, Rhymes of a Blueliner Balladeer. The volume boasts 31 poems written over a span of eight months, then assembled in a year. Hockey photos illustrate the ballads. Of courses, a tribute to the late Tim Horton is entitled Donuts. Kannegiesser's experiences playing with and against such greats as Bobby Orr, Gordie Howe and Horton inspire other poems. One sprawling piece is a 20-page re-telling of the 1972 Summit Series through the first-person voice of Canada itself.

“I wanted to write something really Canadian,” said Kannegiesser, who will sign copies of his book on Friday night at the Aud as the Rangers host the Owen Sound Attack and begin a reunion weekend for 1960's players and staff. “What's more Canadian than Robert Service poetry and hockey?” Kannegiesser had no inkling he was a future poet when he played two seasons in Kitchener from 1965-67 along with older brother Gord. His NHL career included stops in Pittsburgh, New York, Vancouver and Los Angeles.

When he hit 40, he went through a mid-life crisis and a divorce. That's when he started writing down his thoughts in a Service style and found a natural rhyme and flow. Kannegiesser, who lives in Santa Barbara, Calif., and gives motivational speeches, has embarked on a cross-country Canadian tour to promote his book. On Saturday, he'll be at Zeke's Feed & Fuel on King Street in Kitchener from noon to 5 p.m.

His brother Gord, 63, works for an insurance company in North Bay. His two sons have found their own careers away from hockey. Brett, 32, owns a mortgage company and used to be a guitar player in a band called One Side Zero. Jameson, 26, is a Smoke Jumper. He works as a highly-trained wildland firefighter out of Fairbanks, Alaska. Sounds like a subject you could write a poem about. “That's on the table,” Kannegiesser said.