I know how valuable youth hockey can be because I went to Andy Stein’s funeral. The Steins live across the street from us. Andy coached hockey.
He died in 2016 of brain cancer, and there were hundreds of mourners at his funeral. The Glenbrook North hockey team came in uniform. I listened to his twin sons, Ben and Jared, eulogize him and thought, grimly, “I’ve wasted my entire life by not coaching hockey ...”
So thank you Rich Cohen, whose new book “Pee Wees: Confessions of a Hockey Parent” body checks that sort of thinking, hard. It’s a Dantean journey through all nine rings of frozen youth hockey hell.
If it seems an odd choice of reading material for me, remember Cohen is author of a string of captivating books from “Tough Jews” to “The Chicago Cubs: Story of a Curse.” I’ve read nine and read this book because reading Rich Cohen’s books is what a person who likes reading books does, whatever the subject. It’s almost a duty.
Spoiler alert: Nobody comes out well. Coaches, parents, kids with the signal exception of his own son, Micah, and his teammates. But most of all, himself.
Cohen, who played hockey during his golden North Shore youth, is every angry, stymied hockey parent who ever pounded the glass, albeit with a self-analytic gear most lack. An adult who cares far, far, far more about any given hockey situation than his kid, who just shrugs and plays, as kids tend to do.
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