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Phil Esposito's 'No B.S. Hockey Memoir'

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Just breezed through 'Thunder and Lightning' on the long weekend.

It's a quick read, blocked into Espo's childhood, playing days, Rangers GM and a good portion of the book is dedicated to his 'baby', the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Lot's of interesting stories and tidbits, but by far the most interesting thing to me were the trades that never happened.

According to Espo, as GM of the Rangers he had deals in place for both Mark Messier and Wayne Gretzky, but both deals involved cash that were turned down by Rangers upper management. (He also says that Rangers owners at the time didn't feel they needed to spend money, as they were always sold out. He feels they weren't committed to building a Cup contender)

The offers:

Sept 1986:

To Oilers: Kelly Kisio, John Vanbiesbrouck,Thomas Sandstrom, a 2nd round pick and $5mil

To Rangers: Mark Messier


To Oilers: $15 million

To Rangers: Wayne Gretzky


To St. Louis: Darren Puppa, Ben Hankinson (the wrinkle was that the Lightning had to resign Puppa for $1.6 or less)

To Lightning: Curtis Joseph

Each and every on of those possible deals would have really shaken up the league at the time.

The best parts of the book revolve around his time in Tampa Bay, and how he had to work with foreign owners, awful budgets, and nosey execs. He really wants people to know why the Lighnting sucked so bad for so long - and really wants to clear his name from all of the blame going around.

He first blames the firing of John Zeigler who had promised a 4-5 year hold on expansion after the Sens/Lightning entered the league. A year later and Anaheim and Florida were awarded franchises, as well as a much more fruitful expansion draft.

In a close second he blames the nosey execs/owners, who brooded over his player budgets and started making trades and signing players behind his back.

All in all, an entertaining read, just thought I'd share.

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