WEARING THE C: LEADERSHIP SECRETS OF HOCKEY’S GREATEST CAPTAINS
By Ross Bernstein
Foreword by Bobby Clarke and Scott Stevens
Pages: 264 (Hardcover)
About The Book
FROM THE INTRODUCTION BY ROSS BERNSTEIN
Welcome to “Wearing the C,” my latest hockey book which celebrates the science, art, and act of leadership. I spent over a year researching and interviewing more than 100 players for it and I couldn’t be prouder of the final product. I had one simple criteria for the subjects I interviewed: they had to have been a captain at some point in their careers. At first I was going to limit my interviewees to only players who wore the C, but I decided to add players who also wore the A as well. Assistants, or alternates, are certainly captains as well and they are very much a part of the leadership dynamic on any team. I also talked to a handful of coaches and general managers, because I wanted to find out how they selected their captains and why.
The how and the why are really what this book is about. I wanted to find out how players lead, and why they do what the do in order to be effective leaders. Along the way I saw trends, patterns, and common denominators develop. I also recognized that there are many ways to lead, but not necessarily any one RIGHT way. Rather, it was more about how that individual chose to lead HIS way for the good of that particular team. He might be a fiery leader, loud, in your face, with no fear of calling out players in the locker room. Or, he might be a quiet, lead-by-example kind of a captain, who let his actions do the talking for him. Either way, they found a way to get the job done — because if they didn’t, they weren’t going to have that letter sewn onto their jersey for very long.
With regards to how the book came together, it was a puzzle. One of the biggest issues I was faced with was just trying to figure out which players had worn letters. It was an extremely difficult process to track everybody down, but it all came together and I couldn’t be prouder of the final product. As for my methodology, I wanted to capture a diverse mix of superstars, role players, enforcers and grinders — each with his own unique story to tell. Americans, Canadians, Russians, Czechs, Slovakians, Swedes — they’re all in there. The only guys I didn’t talk to were goalies, because they don’t wear the C. OK, Roberto Luongo wore it in Vancouver a few years ago, but that was the only guy in like 50 years to do so. The bottom line was that I didn’t just want to hear from the same old people who get quoted all the time, I wanted to go off the grid and get some unique perspectives from guys of all different eras. And I didn’t just limit myself to NHL captains either. Some guys wore it in the minors, or in college, or on an Olympic or international team. Look, pretty much every player who’s good enough to play in the NHL wore a letter at some point along the way — so I tried to capture their stories, life lessons, and wisdom — regardless of where it was.
There’s the old school guys: Phil Esposito, Ab McDonald, and Lou Nanne… the young guns: Zach Parise, Eric Staal, and Kyle Okposo... the icons: Wayne Gretzky, Joe Sakic, and Steve Yzerman… The lead-by-example locker room guys: Scott Stevens, Brett Hull, and Mike Modano… the foreigners: Zdeno Chara, Mikko Koivu, and Igor Larionov… the coaches and GMs: Scotty Bowman, Glen Sonmor, and Larry Pleau… the father-son combos: JP & Zach Parise, and Pat & Erik Westrum… the siblings: The Hatcher boys — Derian & Kevin, as well as the Hankinson bros — Peter, Ben & Casey… and the grinders who wore it as a reward for doing the dirty work: Lance Pitlick, Mike Peluso, and Marty McSorley. Oh, and I included my buddy Natalie Darwitz too, captain of the 2010 U.S. Women’s Olympic team — because we had to have a female perspective too. It’s an eclectic yet wonderfully diverse assortment of individuals and their insights are fascinating. Their stories, memories and life-lessons will not only make you think about how you lead others, they will hopefully inspire you to reach heights you never dreamed possible.