Skip to main content

Meet Don Dietrich

The Chicago Blackhawks player wearing #32 in this picture is Don Dietrich.

By all standards Don Dietrich does not rank as a Legend of Hockey. He played in just 28 NHL games in a professional career spanning a decade. He never scored a single goal, and picked up seven assists.

People often ask me why I profile "lesser" players. Don Dietrich does not deserve a spot alongside Wayne Gretzky and Bobby Orr at a website called Greatest Hockey Legends.

They may be right. But I do it because these players also have amazing stories to tell. Don Dietrich is the perfect example.

Dietrich tells his own story in his autobiography No Guarantees.

It is an amazing story on two levels.

Firstly, it is a great hockey story. We have heard time and time again the often similar stories of the greats of the game. It is those stories that formulate the stereotypical hockey dream we all once had. But Dietrich's story is the far more common story. Most players who turn professional do not make it to the NHL. They play on in the minor leagues chasing the dream. Usually the only thing keeping them going is not the money or the glory, but the passion for the game.

This describes Dietrich to a tee. And he has some incredibly entertaining stories to tell. Like ordering a steak with Doug Wilson and breaking in Phil Russell's gloves, to contracts and trades and an unbelievably horrible Olympic experience; From the lows of minor league politics to the glories of European leagues to the troubles of life immediately after hockey, Dietrich is very open and honest, making this is a very refreshing hockey book.

"Dieter" is a great storyteller. He lacks a little polish and he could use an occasional fact check, but through it all he becomes a very lovable protagonist of the book, an underdog who the reader will find himself rooting for.

That emotion becomes quite exacerbated as the book takes on a second focus late in the book though, leaving hockey behind. Dietrich is dealt one severe blow after another. First he is diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease, then two battles with cancer, the second one of the rarest and deadliest forms of cancer.

Don Dietrich was not supposed to live much longer after the second diagnosis of cancer. That was well over a decade ago now. Through excessive medical treatments, strong family support and a stubborn determination, he has amazingly extended his life with inspiring positivity and dignity.

Inspiring is definitely best term to describe this book. Must-read is another, for all hockey fans and even non hockey fans.

Comments

James Benesh said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Popular posts from this blog

100 Greatest Hockey Players Of All Time

What follows is a listing of the 100 greatest hockey players of all time, in my opinion. As discussed earlier, the definition of greatness is a very personalized endeavor and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it.
While there is no way of ever truly ranking the top 100 definitively, it is important for the creators of such lists to be open and transparent of how the came to their conclusions. That accountability allows the reader to better understand the process. 

Although admittedly I'm using a completely unscientific formula, I weigh career achievements (era statistics, awards, championships) and legacy (impact on and off ice, peak dominance) equally high. I rank player ability as the third most important ingredient, as first and foremost as a tie breaker. Hence, I'm not necessarily looking for the better player, as in text book definitions of what a hockey player should be, but for players with the greatest careers and greatest legacies. Therefore the best player is not n…

Top Ten Junior Players Of All Time

Let's take a look at the Top Ten junior players of all time. For the purposes of this list we will at players in the WHL, OHL and QMJHL only.

10. Pat Lafontaine, Verdun, QMJHL Rookie-record 104 goals, 234 points in 1982-83; major junior player of the year.

9. Denis Potvin, Ottawa, OHL 254 games, 95 goals, 234 assists, 329 points. Broke Bobby Orr's junior records.

8. John Tavares, Oshawa, OHL 215 goals, 433 points in 247 games; most goals in OHL history; eligibility rules changed to admit him at 15; 2006 major junior rookie of the year, 2007 major junior player of the year; two world juniors, named 2009 all-star, top forward and MVP.

7. Sidney Crosby, Rimouski, QMJHL 120 goals, 303 points in 121 games; two-time major junior player of the year; silver and gold with Canada at two world juniors.

6. Eric Lindros, Oshawa, OHL 97 goals, 216 points in 95 games; one Memorial Cup victory; three world junior tournaments; major junior player of the year in 1991.

5. Mike Bossy, Laval, Q…

Greatest Hockey Legends: M