Book Review: Jakki Clarke’s “Flyer Lives”

“As a player takes a trip down memory lane, so does the reader.”

That is how author Jakki Clarke describes her new book, Flyer Lives, featuring stories drawn from interviews with various Flyers alumni and current players. Whether you’ve been a Flyers fan from the beginning or have just recently joined the fandom, you’ll love this collection of personal tales from some of your favorite Philadelphia athletes.

The idea for Flyer Lives came to be as Philadelphia prepared for the 2012 Winter Classic. Clarke wanted to speak to several players about what it meant to them to be playing in an outdoor game, some for the first time in many, many years.

It’s an amazing phenomenon, that hockey players of all ages, from all different towns and all walks of life, all started off the same way — playing outdoors. It’s what makes the Winter Classic such a truly amazing spectacle, not just for the fans, but for the participants as well.

While working on the book, Clarke was met with overwhelming support by the Flyers organization, namely owner Ed Snider and Flyers color commentator (and colorful character) Steve Coates, and by the Wells Fargo Center staff.

For a fiction writer with a former career in politics, delving into the world of hockey was a fun experience for Clarke.

Talking to her father, Flyers great Bobby Clarke, is an everyday thing for her. But being able to speak with him, interviewer to alumni as opposed to daughter to father, was something she found remarkable about the process.

She got to speak with former Flyers captain and current Comcast Sportsnet analyst Rick Tocchet about his experience playing in the Winter Classic Alumni Game, an incredible parallel between playing outdoors and feeling like he was seven years old again, while skating in front of 50,000 passionate Flyers fans.

And, of course, there are the tales she wasn’t able to share, the behind-the-scenes tales of pranks and silly antics, that she’ll keep close to her heart as another memorable part of the writing process.

The collection features 21 narratives in all, and players from all Flyers generations, such as Bernie Parent, Dave Poulin, Brian Propp, Claude Giroux, and Scott Hartnell, are represented.

You’ll read about the hilarious pranks the Broad Street Bullies played on one another, what it was like for some of the most legendary players to start off on makeshift outdoor rinks, and the advice some of those players have for today’s young athletes.

Flyer Lives touches on all aspects of the sport, including stories of adversity, team bonding, overcoming injury, and reaching career pinnacles.

With personal stories you won’t find anywhere else, Clarke’s collection is unlike any Flyers book out there, and a must-have for fans of all ages.