The third review in my hat trick of hockey book reviews during the Stanley Cup Finals is about one fan's expedition to see every game of his favorite team, the Maple Leafs, for an entire season. It's a fun, entertaining read. Here is my review of "The Ultimate Road Trip".
“The Ultimate Road Trip: All 89 Games with the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Ultimate Leafs Fan" by Mike Wilson and Lance Horsnby
Ice Hockey, professional, memoir, Maple Leafs
October 6, 2020
4 of 5 stars (very good)
Many sports fans have dream trips on their bucket lists. Whether it is to visit every stadium or arena for their favorite sport or follow their favorite team to places they never saw, it is safe to say passionate fans hope to take this type of excursion. For Toronto Maple Leafs fan Mike Wilson, he was able to make that a reality during the 2018-19 NHL season and his adventure is captured in this book he co-authored with veteran hockey author Lance Hornsby.
Wilson had earlier been dubbed the "Ultimate Leafs Fan" by ESPN and if there ever were any doubts that this title was correct, those are wiped away after reading this book. His trials and tribulations he encountered with transportation, lodging, security at both airports and arenas and some encounters with opposing fans might try the patience of any hardy fan. The two most eye-opening incidents that I found in the book that made me congratulate him for his patience were an overzealous security guard in Las Vegas when he was not allowed to bring his camera into the game against the Golden Knights and his encounter with an angry New York Islanders fan who, like nearly every other fan that night, came to boo John Taveras in his first game back after leaving the Islanders to sign with his hometown Maple Leafs.
Those encounters, however, were very few compared to the wonderful stories Wilson shared with readers about Leafs fans hen saw at every city. The Maple Leafs are one of those sports franchises with a very large fan base that covers an entire nation, or in their case, two as there were large contingencies of Leafs fans in American cities Wilson visited as well as in Canadian cities. While reading the book one gets the sense of this being like a very large progressive hockey party. Like a progressive dinner, where people have each course at different locations, Wilson seemed to have a party at each arena with his fellow Leafs fans.
Other interesting aspects of the book that will keep a reader's interest is how his partner Deb was the person who kept all of this organized. She was the one who arranged most of the travel and lodging for Wilson and, on occasion, herself when she joined him on a stretch of his journey. I also like reading about how some of the fans he met would stay loyal to the Leafs even though they may be thousands of miles away from Toronto. Wilson's encounters with some players in Leafs history were also good reading as throughout the book, his passion for the team as well as his encyclopedic knowledge shows that ESPN picked the correct person to dub "The Ultimate Leafs Fan." While certainly Maple Leaf fans will love this book, hockey fans of any team will enjoy reading about one fan who was able to complete an incredible hockey journey.
I wish to thank ECW Press for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
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