Following the abrupt end to the 2019-20 ECHL season due to the Coronavirus pandemic, this hockey broadcaster found himself with a little extra time on his hands.
In the early days of the pandemic in March, Growlers owner Dean MacDonald reached out to me, as he often did, just to check in, say hi and ask about the family.
During our exchange, he floated a project idea by me. He wanted us to write a book.
His logic was simple. The story of the Newfoundland Growlers’ incredible inaugural season Kelly Cup championship and Newfoundland and Labrador’s first professional hockey championship was begging to be turned into a book and he wanted us to be the ones to write it.
As it turns out, writing a book was on both of our bucket lists so we agreed this was something we would try to do.
Working from a makeshift home office due to Covid, I set about framing my ideas for the scope of the book.
In order to do the season justice, I felt the book needed to be comprehensive. A simple photo book would not suffice. There were too many incredible stories to be told that needed more than just images. I wanted quotes, stats, tables, the whole nine yards. I wanted to really pull back the curtain and let the fans in on every moment of the Kelly Cup run. In my mind, we needed to dive deep into every big moment from the whole season; from how the team came to exist, all the way to the championship parade on George Street.
Dean and I traded ideas by email for weeks as the book format slowly began to take shape.
We finally got to meet in person to discuss the book over a beer once the Pedestrian Mall opened on Water Street in August.
In my head, I had romanticized the idea of penning my own book and had imagined leisurely days of writing into the winter, accompanied by mugs of warm hot chocolate as I took the time needed to wax poetic for my literary debut.
Dean had other ideas. He wanted the book on shelves by Christmas. We needed to kick it into overdrive RIGHT NOW.
We couldn’t do it all ourselves, so we reeled in some Growlers staffers. Team photographer Jeff Parsons took care of the images and layout while Communications Manager Kenny O’Leary served as the book’s editor, keeping us all in line and pushing the project forward.
With Covid restrictions allowing us to return to work in-person, Kenny and I barricaded ourselves in the Growlers board room for over a month, with nearly every waking moment of our workdays dedicated to meeting our ambitious deadline.
Progress came quickly as we mapped out the timeline of the Growlers inaugural season. We had so much fun reliving these historic moments and diving into the archives to unearth never-before-seen logos and photos.
Then came the most challenging part of the whole project: the editing.
For what felt like forever, we argued over the littlest details. Too many spaces. Font choices. Photo selections. Page numbering. The list was endless.
But nobody complained. It was a labour of love for all of us involved and nobody wanted anything other than their best work reflected in the project.
The end result is the book we have available for you today.
It truly fills me with pride to be able to be a part of this great project, especially considering that 100% of the proceeds of the book will be going toward Growlers Give charities that will help go toward helping families and individuals in need around Newfoundland and Labrador.
We hope that you all enjoy reliving these historic moments as much as we enjoyed writing about them and we look forward to seeing you all back at Mile One Centre, hopefully, sooner rather than later.
Chris BallardVoice of the Newfoundland Growlers