While My First Goal does use the first NHL goal as a common thread, one should not think each of the stories are simply a variant of the last. Brophy has interviewed 50 different players, all with very different NHL experiences. From the greats like Gretzky, Howe and Orr, to active players like Toews and Crosby, to Fred Perlini and Dean Morton, who played only a handful of games at the highest level, each story is unique.
Most recall their first goals vividly – the goalie they scored on, who made the pass to them, and the kind of shot and the thought process that went into it. Many will also recall wondering immediately afterwards if it had in fact happened. More than simply a retelling of how the play occurred, each goal is framed within a backdrop of expectations, opportunities, attitudes and in some cases, disappointments, as players reminisce on their careers.
Brophy provides not only the circumstances of the goal, but gives us a portrait of the player. The book contains numerous quotes from the players, and Brophy does a wonderful job of filling in the background details. Obviously, many of the names are instantly recognizable to even the non-hockey fan. But the inclusion of men who had careers as 3rd line players, and even men who never saw more than a few NHL games, reminds us it isn’t just the superstars who have career highlights, and for some, that first goal is it.
Certainly, to win the Stanley Cup is every player’s ultimate aim. Many know it takes a lot of skill and some good fortune to get there. And many hockey players will tell you just to play in that first game is a thrill, to realize you’ve made it. But the first goal, to score and hear your name announced in the arena, the crowd cheering… it is a highlight so many share and yet each ‘first goal’ is a different experience for each of them.
My First Goal is a great book for either the casual or the hard-core hockey fan. Each story is a player profile, complete enough so the reader isn’t left to wonder whatever became of the goal scorer. But more than that, it goes beyond the score-sheet, revealing stories of struggle and success, and ultimately passion for the game of hockey.