My Life is the story of the life and career of retired Finnish hockey player Teemu Selanne.
From a young age, Selanne had hinted at greatness. His natural speed would help him excel at nearly every sport he tried. While he enjoyed both soccer as well as track and field, his heart belonged to hockey. It also didn’t hurt that a childhood bout with Osgood-Schallter disease pushed him away from the two aforementioned sports, sports that would place increased stress on his knees. When Selanne buckled down and concentrated fully on hockey, there would be no holding him back. His memoir details his rocky road to the NHL and the breakout rookie season that would follow as he would amass an incredible one hundred and thirty two points in the 1992/1993 season; a rookie scoring record that still stands today and likely will not be broken.
From there, Selanne goes through his lengthy NHL career and the various ups and downs that are associated with playing twenty-one seasons (an achievement in and of itself). He also touches on his post-playing days in the final chapter.
In the foreword, Selanne notes that it might seem odd that a book listing him as the author would be written in the third person, but he admits that it works better that way when translated from Finnish as he can easily incorporate quotes from friends and teammates using this narrative style. I will say that it felt jarring at first, but once I settled in, any issues were long gone.
I will say that I found the time spent recapping his pre-NHL career uninteresting but that may be because I’m not familiar with the Finnish leagues or teams within it. Many of the stories came across as robotic and dull with constant recaps of scores and games. The pages just washed over me and nothing really stuck. This would continue throughout the book.
His NHL career portion of the book was OK, but it was mostly about his frustrations with having no control over how an NHL team is put together or whether his line mates would remain alongside him as seasons come and go. The most maddening stories come from his career after winning the Stanley Cup in 2007, where he would continue to play into his forties before retiring at the end of the 2013-2014 season. Selanne was still producing and putting up numbers, but he would be relegated to riding the bench in favor of other players. The team was doing well, mind you, but it’s not like Selanne couldn’t play the extra minutes.
I find that hockey books focusing on one player as opposed to books discussing a specific team, era or event tend to be pretty hit or miss. Selanne was a well-behaved player with a great home life, so the interesting bits would most likely be in his exceptional on-ice performance, however that alone doesn’t often make an interesting read. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not chastising Selanne for not having discipline problems or not engaging in more insane off-ice antics, but the constant barrage of game recaps and stats didn’t do a lot for me.