Grant Lawrence says he never imagined he would end up in hockey gear, guarding a net. The CBC Radio host and bestselling author, formerly the lead singer of acclaimed Vancouver band The Smugglers, suffered some of his most painful childhood memories at the hands of jocks who played the sport.
But fate can play clever tricks, and Grant ended up as a formative force behind the Vancouver Flying Vees, a bear league hockey team comprised of comedians, artists and musicians based in the city.
In his new memoir, The Lonely End of the Rink, Lawrence looks back on his life through the hockey lens he thought he would never peer through.
The results are often funny, but Grant says the book doesn't shy away from exploring deep wounds from years past.
On one very memorable occasion, he recalls running straight off a cliff to escape one of his tormentors and "destroying" his kneecaps, for example.
"The worst years of my life were the early high school years," said "I was the runt. I was the smallest kid in my class, the only kid with glasses, the only kid with wonky knees," he said.
The self-described "artsy weirdo" never imagined the his journey would include the sport. But that changed after his band toured with Canadian punk-rockers Hanson Brothers, when he and his band mates began playing the sport with other musicians and artists.
At that point, he said he realized that arts and sports could co-exist.
Grant is in Nanaimo on Tuesday to sign copies of his latest tome. He'll be at the Nanaimo Public Library at 7 p.m., where he will also hold a Q&A session. Lawrence has fond memories of the city, having toured here repeatedly with The Smugglers.
After his band activities began to wind down, Lawrence began seriously pondering his own hockey league.
"(I thought) maybe finally for the first time in my life, I can form a team in an adult recreational league, and I can do it on my terms," he said. No more being picked last. No more abuse. And so on.
The book is divided into three 'periods' of Lawrence's life: elementary school, high school and present day, and set against the backdrop of the Vancouver Canucks' three failed attempts at clinching the elusive Stanley Cup.
Lawrence, like millions of others, watched in horror during the 2011 Stanley Cup riot, mere months after the 2010 Olympics basked the city in glory.
"Just one year later, we were trying to burn the city down," he said.
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