For readers of Nine Lessons I Learned from My Father and Hockey Confidential, Down and Back tells broadcaster Justin Bourne’s story of following his Hall-of-Fame father not only to the NHL, but also into rehab.
Bob Bourne was everything a son wants to emulate—an NHL All-Star, a Sports Illustrated “Sportsman of the Year,” a Stanley Cup champion. Justin Bourne followed in those huge footsteps, leading his teams in scoring year after year, and finally garnering an invitation to the New York Islanders’ training camp—the same team his father had played for. But Bourne was also following his father down a darker path.
Though he hadn’t begun drinking until he was 21, by 36 his drinking had nearly swamped his career and his marriage. In an act of brutal self-honesty—which may not have been possible if not for his understanding of how lying spurred by alcoholism can cause a family pain—Bourne got help, got sober, and confronted what his father and the game mean to him.
Down and Back is a frank and unflinching appraisal of the game and Bourne’s relationship with it: the violence and danger, the booze and drugs, the consequences of fame. But it is also an honest look at what is redeeming about the sport, through the eyes of someone who grew up in NHL dressing rooms, who has skated on NHL ice as both a player and a coach, and who inherited the game from a man he’s grown to better understand by looking more closely at himself.