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Book review: This Team is Ruining My Life by Steve Dangle

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Are you here to read this?

Jen Squires

“Hey, do you still write for PPP?”

This is the message I get from my biggest fan, Steve Dangle, and no my feelings weren’t hurt at all.

After an intro that clearly wasn’t setting things up for a big ask, Steve went ahead and asked me if I wanted a copy of his book to review. If there’s one reason I got into the blogging game, it’s free stuff, so of course I said yes.

(This is where you all should be thankful that Katya is in charge of PPP, because if it was me I’d have sold out every article in favour of free meals, video games, and hot tubs.)

Steve ‘Dangle’ Glynn, Youtuber, podcaster, and co-host of Sportsnet’s Twitter show Ice Surfing wrote a book called This Team is Ruining My Life. It’s a collection of stories from Steve about working his way up from a driveway ball hockey player to being a big addition to hockey’s new media landscape.

I previously only knew Steve from Twitter and the infamous Nashville Predators 9-2 video, but met him once (I was really there to see this guy), and got to know him a little bit and huh, he’s more than just some weirdo on YouTube; and that’s what the book is about.

So how’s the book?

It’s good. It’s a really easy book to read and it comes across like you’re being told a story where the hems and haws and ums and ahs are cut out, but it’s a very well done autobiography. There are some that have been written by a ghostwriter and it shows. They have a sound to them that’s too cleaned up and had some filler added to pad things out. If you’ve read Wendel Clark’s book Bleeding Blue you know what I’m talking about. That was a well written book, but it wasn’t Wendel telling you the stories himself.

To make a non-hockey comparison, it reads a lot like Have A Nice Day! by Mick Foley. It’s just someone’s stories following a timeline about their career, no filler, and no hiding things that they’d be embarrassed about or would be afraid to get out there.

Steve doesn’t give you every story he has, but a lot of the ones he does share are ones he learned lessons from; some you only want to learn once, some lessons that you never want to learn.

Is this only good for fans, or would anyone enjoy it?

I guess that’s up to you. It’s a must have for fans who would consider themselves members of the #DangleNavy, you probably have already read it or tweeted at Steve asking why you don't have it yet.

What if you’re not a die hard fan? It’s a good book to read if you’re interested in how to become an on-air personality, or what it takes to get there. If you have a general interest in people’s lives (I do, I’d probably read a book about your life if you wrote one), it’s not a bad read. There’s nothing controversial in there, it’s more pop than punk.

If you’re curious, it’s not an expensive pick up and is plentiful at books stores, Costco, and wherever else you buy your books from. There’s an audiobook coming out as well if that’s more your jam. I enjoyed it, and would recommend it if you’re into hockey and stuck without something new to read.

I had some questions about the book, and met up with Steve at the CBC building in Toronto before an episode of Ice Surfing and got some answers and comments about the book.


PPP: Early on in the book you brought up your uncle’s memorabilia collection, I love hearing about these things. Has it gotten bigger, are you catching up to him?

Dangle: I have volume. I have figures of players, pictures of me with those players; I have stuff I got at an auction, or you know, a few gifts. It’s volume. What I have has no value. What my uncle has, has value. It’s old, it’s rare. On top of that he’s got this Leafs jersey that’s been signed by dozens of Leafs throughout the eras. That’s both valuable and sentimental.

I tie everything to sentiment, because it has no value.

Except that James Reimer figure, that’s forty dollars.

SIXTY! It was a little much. The Bryan McCabe one I have is a variant, so he doesn’t have a helmet. He’s still carrying the memorabilia train for his family.

I’ve gotten to the point where I can't have any more things because I have no room, so it’s good to hear he’s still going.

Oh, he’s got cards from before he was born, it’s insane.

Going along with cards, you talk about bringing in Kris Draper’s hockey card, and he signed it and it’s up on your elementary school’s wall of fame. My question is: Are you on the wall of fame yet?

No...that was a ‘year of’ thing. Most of it was about the school year and what we did. I had Kris Draper’s card up there which now...I put a hole in the card. Why did I do that? Now it’s not valuable.

Well, it’s sentimental for you now.

IT COULD BE BOTH! If I had just used my head. I screwed that up. Now there is a Ryerson Wall of Fame, and I was looking at it a few months ago because I was talking to a class, and I allowed myself to egotistically think “One day.....”. Then I look at the names up there and it’s like, Scott Moore (former director of CBC Sports and President of Sportsnet)...I think I have a ways to go before I get on there.

You talk about McDonald’s pizza in the book. Could you use your clout to try and bring it back? Or should we? Is it nostalgia in our heads?

It’s not the same.

You can’t go back.

Like, I watched Slap Shot recently. People are asking me “Wasn’t it great?” I think, if I watched it when it came out I would have laughed so hard, but it’s just. A lot of things don’t stand up to the test of time.

The book is about me maturing, and I’ve matured to where I eat pizza place pizza.

So you talk about taking up running as a kid, because of all the NHL games you play and the McDonald’s pizzas, and that’s where you say your famous back problems come from. Now, will you ever show us those magic stretches Jason York showed you?

I can show them...but...what I’ve discovered, and one thing my chiropractor has told me is that I self adjust, and you shouldn’t. So I’m comfortable giving my hockey opinion despite my lack of expertise, but I’m uncomfortable giving my medical opinion despite my lack of expertise.

I will show you as soon as we put the mic down.

[Steve did not get down on the ground in the PATH and show me these stretches.]

So, when you’re at the zoo, and you tell the story about helping the kid who fell down and scraped himself up, The letter they sent to the zoo about you, did it help you look at how you should be? You always come across as very genuine and grateful. Was that a big learning moment for you?

One thing I hope I did justice in the book was, how valuable an experience it was to work at the zoo. It wasn’t just ridiculous stories, some of the more unpleasant experiences tend to stick out. Day in and day out you were dealing with thousands of people, and you know, you want the zoo to do well, you work there. Why wouldn’t you make people’s experiences good? If that isn’t incentive enough, how about just don’t be a dick?

The default should be, be nice to people. If we saw someone looking confused, we would just go up and ask them if they needed help. That’s an example of a simple nice thing you can do that the zoo taught me. This kid, he was bleeding from all four limbs.

I think about it, and that kid is probably in high school now. That’s wild.

The zoo taught me a lot of good things. A lot of team work; to hydrate; just talking for a living. Working on the zoo mobile. Talking all day is tiring. You tell that to a foreman on a construction site and he’ll punch you in the stomach, but you don’t realize talking for five hours is exhausting. But it got me ready for variety and making people’s experiences enjoyable.

Working at the zoo, I was growing up, I worked there from 17 to 24. So, it taught me things as I was learning them, if that makes sense.

I really liked that story, that your boss dug that letter out about you.

The fact that my boss still has it. I haven’t worked there since 2012, and he still has it on file. I just love it.

I did that exact same thing. After our trip to Disney World I wrote a letter about someone who gave us outstanding service and I hope his boss gave him a copy as well. I do that now, because it’s a lot easier to complain than to praise.

I appreciated it. I had unfortunately left the zoo when he got the letter, but he made sure to email me and let me know.

I’d like to talk to that kid, or the family. odds are they’re in the GTA. Or Vermont. Maybe they still have a reverence of Toronto because of that. That’s why little things are big.

When you start talking about the LFR’s you mention one of your first commentors was Pierre. After writing about it, did you think of trying to get a hold of him?

I didn’t. I didn’t try to get a hold of him, I wouldn’t know where to start. If you read the story, I guess I served my purpose to him; if he wants to reach out, that would be wonderful, but he was a very interesting figure. He tried to, he said I reminded him of his son, which is funny because he treated me that way sometimes.

You know, in the good way and the bad way. He was listening to a campus radio show I did with Justin Fisher and we were swearing and talking about all kinds of dirty stuff (please for the love of God let that recording be gone) and um, he called in a reamed me out. For, talking about, I think he called it smut. I hope he’s alright.

When you started working at Toronto Marlies games, you talked to Greg Gilbert about the Rockford Iowa Chops logo. I love asking dumb questions of hockey players, because you never know what you’re going to get out of it.

They appreciate it I think.

I once asked (former Leafs prospect) Keaton Middleton about the differences between American and Canadian snack food, like “How do you feel about Salt & Vinegar Lays being in a blue bag in the US?”

That’s a great question. [Snack foods] are what connects us.

One thing that people don’t talk about, especially with juniors from Europe and Russia, is how weird the food is here.

Players would complain about gaining weight from eating the same foods here as they did at home, just because there’s so much more stuff in them. I’m amazed food doesn’t come up more.

....why do they come in blue bags?

American grocery stores are a trip.

Americans do that ‘land of the free, home of the brave’ stuff, and sometimes it makes me nauseous, but then you go into an American grocery store, and I get it. American grocery stores are why they say it’s the greatest country in the world.

So, I do appreciate asking dumb questions. I was once nervous to ask them, but at the 2017 Memorial Cup Taylor Hall was there, and I wanted to find out if he ever got his boating license. Jeff Marek told me to just do it, no one’s going to run you out of town. I took his advice, and now that’s my favourite thing to do.

That is always his advice to me, and my retort is “You’re Jeff Marek, you can do those things.” You know, asking [Greg Gilbert] about the Iowa Chops logo was one of the few times I ever saw him smile. A coach can be a scary guy, but sometimes you have to go and do it.

It’s a lot easier to yell and scream at a camera, than it is to actually confront these guys. You have guys like [Guelph Storm coach George Burnett] and they’ve coached games more often than you’ve taken your dogs on the walk. It’s work for them, just go ahead and ask it.

You wrote about when Dougie Hamilton was drafted, and you think you were mad at that...

Oh I know....

Now you couldn’t even cheer for him. What was that like as a Leafs and IceDogs fan?

I think I was over it by the time the season came around, because it was our big year, but within ten seconds of Boston calling his name I was on the phone to my brother and he said “Yeah, I know, get over it”.

I probably had the worst experience of a Leafs fan having Dougie Hamilton getting drafted. Live in real time, right in front of my face, Tyler Seguin telling me “Thank you Kessel”.

All the behind the scenes stories you have, some you can share, some you can’t. That’s probably the best part of working around hockey.

If I could write another book today - I don’t want to - I could, of all the stuff I left out. People say, “Oh you could have put this in, put that.” I know. The book is already too long. One of the things that made me feel like a jerk in the editing process was working with Laura Pestore, the wonderful copy editor of the book. She’s a big baseball fan, and she had the honour of working on Jerry Howarth’s book - the play by play guy from the Jays. My book is the same length.

That guy had a forty year career. It was longer than my life, for a team that....he was probably there for the opening of the Skydome. So it was already too long, I wrote it even longer, and I had to delete stuff. So my bucket is full. If I wanted to write another book today I could.

Maybe one day I’ll do a book like James Duthie’s The Day I (Almost) Kilked Two Gretzkys, just something like that.

How out of the blue was Nike for you? That was one of my favourite stories from the book.

So out of the blue. I was just blindsided. One of the first brands I work with and it’s Nike. There were a couple things I never mentioned - this company out of Sweden wanted me to do videos for them - but it was exactly as I described it in the book.

It still amazes me that it happened. Then we never talked for months.

I think that’s something that the book helps change the perceptions of. If you just look at what you’ve done, like this guy went to the Olympics, and he’s done this, and it just comes across like some kid who was born into this world.

I hope it does. There were two years after the Olympics where I realize that I’m in job interviews and I’m still talking about them. It got to the point where I was like, geez, I need something new to talk about.

It was one of the points I try to get across, is that I’ve had so many of those “I’ve made it” moments, and that I’ve made it can be taken away, or I’ve made it can fade away.

There’s the summer where you quit your job at the zoo after that.

“It’s been a year now, I’m due.” What a...what a terrible year 2011 was in that regard. I wasn’t using my head. It confused me for a while. It definitely was a good lesson in the term “made it”, because I’ve “made it” about five times, and after this interview, after this book comes out, who knows. Maybe I’ll get axed...

A lock out happens...

A lock out happens, I gotta figure out how to pay the mortgage, and “I’ve made it” suddenly fades away.

It’s not as easy now, because you’re an adult and you’re in this always not permanent hockey things.

Imagine fading away and trying to establish myself as the kooky YouTube guy at 35. Something else I try to get across in the book is to have a well rounded, not expertise, but a tool belt. Have a couple things you do really well, but know how to do other things.

If I had to go back to cutting highlights full time? I could do that confidently. Okay, well they’re laying people off in that sector too, so okay, what else can I do? I’ll be fine.

Right now, I feel...I have a book coming out, I’ve made it.

I’ve been laid off too many times to get comfortable. “Hey Steve you’re doing great.” That’s fine, just..talk about the weather or something.

I’ve gotten caught sleeping too many times. There’s a line I forgot to add to the book, and I was working at Leafs TV and I made under $15,000 the year that I was an actual employee there. I joked with my friend that they can’t lay us off, we don’t make any more.

And that’s when I got laid off.

I work at Leafs TV, I made it!

Ah.

I’m working at CBC!

Ah.

So, the first time we ever interacted was on Twitter about internships. It was about unpaid internships..

Ohhh...did we get into it?

No, no.....So interning is hard, did you think it was your support system - you lived in the city and you stayed with your parents, it’s brutal. You’re going to school. It’s just going back to your family and was part of the book just a thank you to them for helping you through this?

Oh my God yeah. My mom loves the book. She just finished reading it and there is one part where someone is mean to me, and I was talking to her just before she read it and she texts me and says “Well that person’s an asshole”.

Not everyone...there’s a certain privilege. Like being able to live with your parents, and them tolerating you. Maybe they could have been like “all the work you have to do has to pay rent because you’re here.” I was living rent free, not everyone has that privilege, a lot of [the book] is sort of the things I did along the way to help me succeed, BUT, you have to give kudos to the people who helped me succeed. My wife, my parents first and foremost throughout the internships, and yeah it is a thank you. They seem to like it so far.

I hope people who aren’t related to me like it as well.

That’s probably the best way to sum it up. Anyone who’s in the ‘Dangle Navy’ will love it. Anyone else..I think unless they just outwardly don’t like you, like they’re from Alberta, the way you’ve written it; the sincerity and honesty you’ve put into it...you talk about your highs, which anyone would do, but you also talk about some of the worst moments you’ve had.

I cry in the book a lot.

That’s probably the first thing I wanted to say, is thank you for crying in the book so much. You have a lot of young fans, and that’s an important thing to learn is that it’s okay to do it, it’s okay to talk about doing it, lord knows I’ve hidden how I’ve felt to the point of it ruining almost everything.

Like the lady at the zoo who said you don’t know anything about hockey because you never ‘played the game’ - was that the asshole from the book?

You nailed it. I feel bad, because she’s the only person I don’t redeem in the book.

I’ve read a few reviews, and they were really nice, from people who were already fans. Great, I want people who are already fans to like the book. The fact that the reviews from the people who are already in, are so good, is really encouraging. That’s who the book was written for first and foremost.

You know, I’ve read some reviews from people from the outside. One of them, I didn’t even understand their criticisms. I don’t think they got it, but that’s my responsibility as the author to help people to get it. A lot of people, I was fascinated with what they liked, and most of it was the zoo stuff and the personal stuff.

I’ve never worked this long and this hard on something. I’m usually very nervous about a podcast or video to come out, but this I haven’t been nervous. It’s the best I can make it, it’s the best the publisher can make it. I caught a couple spelling errors while I was making the audio book and was like ‘well....’. and moved on.

So, did Justin Fisher ever get a free book?

No.

Good.

I wanted to give everyone I mentioned a free copy of the book, I told my wife anyone mentioned in the book should get a free one. She said that’s insane, you mention dozens of people, don’t do that. Not even Adam and Jesse, she said if they want it, they can buy it.


If you want to pester Steve with silly questions too, you can find him on his book tour below. Yes, there is a date in Ottawa squeezed between two dates in the GTA.