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Profiles In Avalanche History: Jonesy

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"Jonesy" now available
I'm a regular reader of ESPN columnist John Buccigross.  I think he's one of the better hockey writers there is, anywhere.  Over the past several months he's been promoting a book, a book I was lucky enough to receive a free copy of after the publisher, Middle Atlantic Press, contacted me asking if I'd review it.  

The book, Jonesy: Put Your Head Down And Skate, is a hockey memoir by former Avalanche player Keith Jones, now a radio personality in Philadelphia and an analyst with Versus.  I've always liked Jones, on the ice as a gritty player and on the tube as a clean-cut, well-spoken broadcaster.  I look forward to games with his intermission commentary because he knows what he's talking about and looks comfortable on the air.

As for the book, it traces his extremely improbable rise through the lower Junior ranks (he never played Major Junior) into college at Western Michigan and then on to the Baltimore Skipjacks, a now-defunct AHL affiliate of the Washington Capitals.  The Capitals drafted Keith in 1988.  As everyone knows, Jones made the Capitals squad and began a fairly lengthy NHL career from that point.

In the fall of 1996, Jones was traded to the Avalanche.  This, of course, was my favorite part of the book, and he provides a number of interesting little insights into his former teammates.

On Patrick Roy:

In my mind, the Avalanche was Patrick Roy's team.  Despite all the great names, Patrick Roy was the dominant presence.  He was the only goalie I never considered shooting high on during practice. Patrick was so important that you didn't want to hurt him.  When he came up to you after a game and said, 'you just had a good game,' you did.  He wasn't going to tell you that you played well unless you did.  It was always open and honest.  The ultimate leader.

...If Patrick Roy felt that you needed to give the team more, he told you.  Patrick demanded the best out of everyone and himself.  He didn't waste words.  He didn't speak just so coaches or the media would hear him.  He spoke with the sole purpose of making the team better.

And on Joe Sakic:

Joe Sakic was a tremendous leader by example.  He did everything right --- off-ice training, practice, and his consistent play during the games --- the complete package.  Joe wore the C as captain, but he let other guys share in the leadership role.  Some guys monopolized the power in the room.  Joe shared the responsibility.  It was never about Joe.  It was about the team, and that's a big reason why the Avlanache had been so successful for so long.

The book is full of excellent anecdotes from Jones' improbable career, and the book really gets going once he reaches the Flyers, a few years and a serious knee injury after being traded to the Avalanche.  His battle with a botched ACL surgery makes an engaging story, and you really start to empathize with him.  Well, at least I do, since I had knee surgery in April and my leg is still not back to normal.  I'm no professional ice hockey player, but I feel his pain.

Unfortunately, the book is also full of some significant grammar and punctuation flubs.  I've heard rumors that the great profession of copy editing is dying, but I've never seen such blatant evidence as Jonesy.  In my reading I found 22 individual mistakes, some of them glaring, including one omitted word in a photo caption.  A caption!

Some of the worst examples:

Page 18
...I wasn't a great skater.  My legs are just weren't strong enough.

Page 37
Coach Wilkinson doesn't not say anything after the Sunday game.

Page 98
I finally found find a pay phone on the concourse and called Pierre Lacroix.

Page 103 (photo caption)
I am keeping my on the puck, attempting to beat Chris Osgood.

Page 155 (about a team bike ride)
Guys are leaving every 30 seconds, and when it's my turn, I start peddling.

There are many others just like those, and then there are some real head-scratchers.  Twice Jones refers to his former Colorado team as the "Avalanches."  He refers to the "Edmonton Oiler days."  Both are incorrect, obviously.  How those managed to slip through the cracks (and John Buccigross), I'll never know.

There are also punctuation mistakes, like a period immediately after an exclamation point.  There are omitted words and words like "are" used when clearly "aren't" was intended.

Even some of the names are wrong.  In an ironic and clearly unintentional reference to a famous bit of Stanley Cup history, Adam Deadmarsh is misspelled as "Deadmarch" on the same page his name appears correctly.  Jones makes a reference to the effect former Penguins goalie Ron Tugnutt had on his opponents but misspells it as "Tagnutted."  A funny reference ruined by a spelling mistake.

I hate the fact that I've taken so much time to criticize what is otherwise a really enjoyable, easy-to-read hockey memoir.  I read almost the entire 180-page book in one sitting of about four hours.  It's fun, engaging and insightful, especially when Jones starts describing the Eric Lindros injury catastrophes, his own bout with a torn ACL and flubbed knee surgery, and especially his days as part of the Avalanche when they were still a veritable All-Star team.  

Jonesy is a good book.  Don't get me wrong.  But Middle Atlantic Press needs to hire a decent proofreader like yesterday.  Hopefully they'll run another edition with all those problems corrected so Jones and Buccigross won't have their labor of love tarnished by poor grammar and punctuation.  Keith Jones deserves better than that, and so does John Buccigross.

I give it 3.5 bigfoot prints out of 5.