Denis Gibbons: From alter boy to world class hockey researcher covering seven Olympic hockey tournaments.

sportsgold 100x100By Pepper Parr

February 26th, 2018



When the 23rd Winter Olympic Games closing ceremonies were over Denis Gibbons was able to get to bed at a decent hour and not be up all night watching events that set a record for the number of medals won by Canada as well as new records in a number of sports.

Gibbons book cover picture of him

Denis Gibbons

That was a big change for Gibbons who has in the past served as a free-lance reporter in seven different Olympic hockey tournaments from 1988 to 2014.

Hockey and Gibbons go back to the days when Father David Bauer was a major force in the development of hockey in this country.

Gibbons, as an altar boy at St. Joseph’s Parish in Acton, followed the St. Michael’s Majors, the team Father Bauer coached, very closely. He was hooked on hockey for life.

During his first trip to the Soviet Union Gibbons found it difficult to get a real sense of what was going on – he didn’t know a word of Russian and the Cyryllic lettering completely baffled him. But hockey was hockey and he didn’t have to know Russian to understand the game.

Gibbons decided to learn Russian and see if he could get a free-lance assignment to cover the 1980 Olympics.
He got himself into a Russian class at McMaster University where it took him several efforts to come away with decent marks – but he eventually learned the language and got a job as researcher for the ABC television network in the 1988 Olympics.

Gibbons decided his experiences covering Olympic hockey were worth a book.

Gibbons Dennis N. Book coverThat book – Hockey My Door to Europe, which details his experiences that included being detained by the Czechoslovakian police and being in Europe when the Berlin Wall fell, is a detailed look at how hockey was covered by the television networks and the role Gibbons played in getting information out to the public.

The book has a Burlington angle – the Burlington Cougars midget reps were paying a visit to Semperk Czechoslovakia in 1983 to take part in a tournament. During some off time Gibbons was walking about with two cameras around his neck taking pictures. He attracted the attention of the STB – the Czech secret police.

For those interested in hockey – the book is a must.

A review will follow.

Gibbons is a former editor of the Burlington Post and currently free lances for the Bay Observer.

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