Bookworm on ice

Jeff Einhorn defies the stereotype of the hockey player

When Jeff Einhorn’s not on the ice, he’s usually got his nose buried deep inside a book.

His bedroom is filled with books; the coffee tables are stacked with them; his hockey bag usually even has one or two stuffed inside. He reads at home, on the team bus, in school.

“I love reading,” he said. “Every spare chance I get, I try to read.”

Not exactly something you’d typically hear coming from a young hockey star, but the 19-year-old Bruins defenseman is all about advancing his knowledge.

Last week he was awarded Academic Player of the Year at the Chilliwack Bruins year-end awards banquet.

“I was kind of shocked by it actually,” he said.

Really?

How many other hockey players get an 85 per cent grade point average all through school? How many others ride themselves so hard that when they fall slightly below that 85 per cent GPA, they upgrade the following year? How many others think 85 per cent isn’t really all that smart at all?

Probably not too many. And yet, Einhorn downplays it all.

“My little brother, Spencer, he’s the real brain of the family,” he said. “My marks don’t even compare to his – he pushes 90 per cent.”

But in the Bruins family, it’s all Einhorn.

The Red Deer, Alberta native grew up in an environment prided on education. His mom always had a book in her hands and his dad, as much as he loved hockey, always made sure that his kids knew there was life beyond the rink.

“My dad always said, ‘hockey’s hockey, but you still have to work hard off the ice,’” said Einhorn.

As a kid, Einhorn was a faithful Screech Owl reader, following the antics of a Canadian peewee hockey team that somehow managed to foil the efforts of terrorists, murderers, kidnappers, ghosts and other such villains. When he was 16, his mom handed him his first biography, Lance Armstrong’s It’s Not About The Bike: My Journey Back To Life. He was hooked. Soon, he was reading all of the legendary cyclist’s biographies he could find, which led to other biographies, including tormented hockey star Theo Fleury’s Playing With Fire and tennis phenom André Agassi’s Open.

“I really like athlete biographies,” he said. “I can usually pick up little things, pointers on how they do their profession, and use that in my own life.”

Einhorn’s love for reading, however, doesn’t stop at biographies, he’s also been known to read the girl-loved, blood-sucking Twilight series – providing his fellow teammates with great amounts of fodder.

Not like they need much though. Einhorn is like the Ross Geller of the Bruins. They love him, but relentlessly tease him. And he’s okay with that.

“I’m a pretty easy-going, open-minded guy,” he said. “I just laugh and shrug it off … it’s a really good group of guys in here; we’re pretty much like brothers.”

But had Einhorn gone with his first inclination of ice, he never would have been apart of the Bruins family. He had no desire, early on, to become a hockey player – let alone skate on ice.

When his dad first took him out on the outdoor rink when he was just a wee toddler, Einhorn fell and that was it. He wanted nothing more to do with that pain-inducing, dirty white stuff.

But his dad was persistent and kept putting him back out on the ice.

The Bruins are thankful. Einhorn is thankful.

kbartel@theprogress.com