Hockey is the lens through which we see our lives—how we measure right and wrong, how we understand our hopes and fears. So it was for Dave Bidini in 1974, the last year Dave Keon played in Toronto. In a new grade in a new school, Bidini found himself the victim of a bully—a depredation he could understand only by thinking about what the Leafs dauntless captain went through game after game.
Throughout his twenty-two-year career, Keon was only in one hockey fight, in his last game as a Leaf on April 22, 1974. It was on this day that the eleven-year-old Bidini decided to fight back, an occasion that the writer looks back on with breathtaking courage and honesty. But while Bidini would remain a blue-blooded Leafs fan into adulthood, Keon became estranged from the franchise with which he’d won four Stanley Cups, two Lady Byngs, and the first ever Conn Smythe Trophy in 1967.
Told in two narratives—one from the point of view of the young Bidini growing up in Toronto in the early 70s and one from the perspective of the man looking for his absent hero—Keon and Me tells not only the story of a hockey icon who has haunted Toronto for decades, but of a life lived in parallel to Keon’s. It’s the story of cultural change, an account of the tribulations of the NHL’s most beloved (and most despised) franchise in the decades since Keon left under a cloud, and most of all, it is a story of growing up, with all the wisdom and sadness that imparts.
Part ode to a legendary hockey player, part memoir, Keon and Me captures what we all cherish in the game we love and the importance of the innocence we cling to long after the cheers have faded.
DAVE BIDINI is a founding member of the acclaimed rock band Rheostatics, and has published several books, mostly on the topics of music and sports. His first book, On a Cold Road, was a CBC Canada Reads finalist. He currently performs with his band, BidiniBand.
“Engaging … A coming-of-age laid bare. Bidini’s respect for Keon, his admiration for the Leafs great, and the manner in which it is expressed, how it guides Bidini, takes the reader on a fascinating ride. Bidini’s search for his hero is gripping. To say this is not a typical hockey book would be an understatement.” - The Calgary Sun
“[Keon and Me is] so much more than [a hockey story]. It's about your childhood and mine, about believing in something and about dealing with disappointment. It's about hope a quest and it stays with you the way the best books always do." - Ottawa Sun
“Bidini has written a thoughtful, amusing, coming-of-age meditation on what it means, as both a child and an adult, to be a fan.” - Quill & Quire
“Bidini's latest entry into my personal list of best Canadian hockey books of all time is a wonderfully complete read.” - London Free Press
“Artfully intertwined with Bidini's persecution by a cruel bully in school—any hope of official intervention as hopeless as the Leaf's ambitions of winning the Cup—Bidini's work of creative non-fiction is a must read.” - Publishers Weekly
“[Bidini] has a remarkable ability to make coherent the experience of a sports fan that looks to find meaning and value in a game played by professionals. He always gets the most out of his sports-fan experiences without sacrificing a full and happy life outside of that realm. Is he a writer, a musician, or a blue-blooded Leafs fan? Though Bidini’s experience as a fan is richly textured, one gets the sense that all aspects of his life are equally tended to by the versatile Torontonian. Somehow, that makes believing his story that much more gratifying.”—Thehockeywriters.com “The best insight into being a hockey fan since Roch Carrier’s The Hockey Sweater, but more than that it’s a moving meditation on how much the right idol can mean in a life.” - The Calgary Herald
“What a book! You’re getting into the life of a bullied young boy. You’ll be reading about the almost magical presence of the champion Dave Keon in the young man’s adventure of becoming a strong individual. Was such a book ever written about the very deep connection between a young boy and his hockey hero? When Bidini, the writer, seems to know too much, just keep going: getting lost might become the best part of the trip.” - Roch Carrier, author of The Hockey Sweater