One of the most important stories of this Nashville Predators season has been that of Jordin Tootoo's trip through the NHL/NHLPA Substance Abuse Program, and subsequent return to action over the last few weeks. There are lessons along Toots' long road to initially make it to the NHL for all of us, and a new book published earlier this year by Canadian author Melanie Florence brings that story to kids. It's called Jordin Tootoo: The highs and lows in the journey of the first Inuit to play in the NHL:
Follow after the jump for a recent radio interview with Jordin, and more about this book...
Yesterday on the Thom Abraham Show, Tootoo spoke about getting back on track, and how the Predators are approaching the stretch drive:
This book is targeted to readers aged 9-12, but for my purposes, a focus group of two 8-year-olds and a 7-year-old read it beside me back in October*** (you've gotta love free, in-house child labor). I was really impressed with how much each of them got out of the book when they read it; my youngest son was captivated by life in Rankin Inlet, a remote environment which seems a world away from suburban Nashville. My daughter was struck by the story of Jordin's older brother Terence, whose trailblazing professional career ended with his tragic suicide after a drunk driving arrest in 2002. My oldest son enjoyed the on-ice portion of the tale, which details the hard work and high-octane style of play which helped Tootoo become the first Inuk player to make his way to the NHL.
Perhaps what was most impressive, however, is how my kids reacted when the news came about Jordin's leave of absence from the Preds in late December, and his treatment for substance abuse. We talked about what was going on, and the kids all had a bit of understanding of how someone could get into such a place where alcohol takes over:
"Maybe he was homesick because his family is so far away."
"He could still be sad because he misses his brother."
Are they right? Are they wrong? Who knows, but the important thing is that this book gave the kids a clear sense of where Jordin has come from and the struggles he's had to overcome on his way to an NHL career. It helped them empathize with his situation, and try to explain for themselves how a popular sports hero could risk losing it all.
I'd say that's a pretty fine piece of work, there.
You can find Jordin Tootoo: The highs and lows in the journey of the first Inuit to play in the NHL at Amazon.com, and if you purchase through the links on this page, I receive a small affiliate commission.
***I had misplaced my review copy of the book for a while, hence the delay in posting this review.