Philip Croucher’s Road to the NHL

With another hockey season on the horizon, Halifax author, journalist and sports enthusiast Philip Croucher has released his first full-length book Road to the NHL, the stories of 25 Maritimers and their journey to the big leagues. Recently, AE hit the ice with Croucher to discuss his debut effort.

What inspired/motivated you to write Road to the NHL?
Writing a book has always been a dream of mine, but I didn't really know how to get started, or what to write about. Then, out of the blue, John MacIntyre of MacIntyre Publishing approached me about an idea he had for a hockey book - to tell the stories of Maritimers and their roads to making the NHL. My name was mentioned as someone who could write the book because of my background in sports reporting. I was on board with the project from my first meeting with John. From there, the next two years were spent lining up the players' for interviews and writing their stories in a way that both a hockey, and non-hockey fan, would enjoy. I think even if you don't like hockey, the stories in Road To The NHL will prove inspirational.

Did the work come together quickly or did you really need to work at it?
The actual writing came together quickly. What proved difficult was finding the time to write. I have a full-time job as managing editor of Metro Halifax, plus I have two small children. I eventually made a point to find specific writing times for the book, so my focus could be on that and nothing else.

What was the most challenging aspect of the process? 
The most challenging aspect of Road To The NHL was first deciding what 25 players to profile for the book, and then getting them to agree to be interviewed. This is a Maritime book, so it was important for me to make sure all three provinces were well represented. I accomplished that. I also wanted a nice mix of players - from stars, to lesser-knowns. Some of the best stories are those who didn't know if they would ever make it - like the Eric Boultons or Scott Pellerins. As far as player interviews, most were receptive right away, but some took more time to convince. All but two players agreed to be interviewed, which I'm happy with.

What was the most rewarding part of the experience? 
Without question, speaking to the players for the book. The hard work and sacrifice they each put in to reach their goal was driven home again and again for Road To The NHL. Most of the players left home at 15 or 16 to pursue their dream to play hockey, with no guarantee the NHL would even happen. When I look back at the finished product, I am reminded of those interviews and how lucky I was to hear them, and then put the stories to paper.

What did you learn during the process?
What I’ve learned most about this process is just how much work goes into writing a book. Two years of my life went into Road To The NHL, and even when I took a break from writing, it was still always in the back of my mind. Everything from the writing, to lining up interviews, to editing, it’s a long process, one that gives you a sense of real fulfillment when you finally see the finished product. It’s very rewarding.

What has the response been like so far from those that have read it?
Where it only hit stores Sept. 1, I haven’t had a lot of feedback yet. I know my publisher is very happy with the finished product, and the other day I got a call from a player in the book – Scott Pellerin – who wanted to tell me how much he enjoyed the chapter I did on him. He even said his son was learning things about his dad and had already taken the book to school to show his classmates. That was very cool to hear.

What are your plans to market/promote the work?
We have tentatively set a book launch for the end of the month, and most of October will be traveling the Maritimes for book signings, including at Costcos in Halifax, Dartmouth and Moncton. As well, I will be doing interviews with TV, radio and newspapers from around the Maritimes. Some local newspapers are even going to publish a small part of a chapter relating to their hockey hero in an upcoming edition.

What's next on your creative agenda?
Right now, I’m just enjoying having Road To The NHL out for people to read. I don’t know if I will ever have the opportunity to be in this position again. I’m looking forward to the book launch, upcoming signings and getting to talk to people about Maritime hockey. I’ve been thinking about a second edition to the book, as there are more great stories to tell, but no one has approached me, and I’m not certain I have the time at this point to do that.   

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