At this point, it’s hard to read Ken Daniels’ new book “If These Walls Could Talk, ” a book of stories about his career in broadcasting, without associating it with the story he is now telling after its publication: About the death of his son Jamie due to opioid addiction and how rehabilitation facilities failed the young man in the name of profit.
I will spend most of this review discussing the book, which is well worth reading for fans of the Red Wings as well as people interested in broadcasting, but I feel I must discuss this topic first. Daniels talks about his son in the very beginning of the book, and pictures of him (as well as Daniels’ daughter) appear throughout.
While I greatly admire Daniels as a broadcaster, the moment that will forever stay with me is when he first came back to the broadcast booth following Jamie’s death. I’m not ashamed to say that I was openly weeping during that first segment of the pre-game show. Sitting at home, states away, it was unimaginable to me to have to deal with that.
When we interviewed him for our podcast, he said that the first thing he does when he wakes up is thinks of his son. I greatly admire him for taking this heartbreaking experience and sharing the experience he, his family, and Jamie went through trying to help the young man get clean. If you haven’t read it, you need to read Craig Custance’s interview with him for the Athletic (This article is not paywalled).
If you got nothing else out of the book and his interviews and speeches recently, that would be an important accomplishment. But the book itself is a great read and I highly recommend picking it up.
“What it takes to be a great actor is the humility to prepare and the confidence to pull it off” - Ken Daniels quoting Laurence Olivier
Like most books of this type, it starts off with Daniels’ early years. He played hockey for coach Mike Keenan at Forest Hill Collegiate in Toronto, which was a really interesting detail. Keenan helped him realize that he would never play professionally, but he should focus on his dream of being a broadcaster.
Chapter 2 details the different gigs that helped Daniels rise through the ranks of broadcasting to his current job as play-by-play announcer for the Red Wings.
I don’t want to give away too much information, but one detail I found particularly interesting is that he was the voice for the first hockey video game, a Hockey Night in Canada VCR game.
The rest of the book is divided up into thematic sections. Among them is a chapter focused on his announcing partner Mickey Redmond, which was filled with interesting behind-the-scenes moments between the two of them. My favorite chapter was Chapter 7: “The Greatest Team Ever Assembled?” which contains stories about the 2001-2002 team.
Three Hart Trophy winners, a six time Vezina winner, two Norris winners, and three players who had scored Stanley Cup winning goals (among many other accolades). You would imagine that this chapter would be chock-full of interesting anecdotes, and Daniels doesn’t disappoint.
At this time of year, people are flush with gift cards, and for Red Wings fans as well as people interested in broadcasting, this book would make a fine holiday read.
Ken Daniels’ book “If These Walls Could Talk: Stories from the Detroit Red Wings Ice, Locker Room, and Press Box is available here on Amazon as well as bookstores nationwide.
I received a review copy of this book from Triumph Books