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Hockey fans swarm bookstore to see ex-Blackhawk Jeremy Roenick

Former hockey standout Jeremy Roenick appeared Anderson's Bookshop Naperville Wednesday night.  |  David Sharos~For Sun-Times Medi

Former hockey standout Jeremy Roenick appeared at Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville Wednesday night. | David Sharos~For Sun-Times Media

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Roenick opens up about his style of play

Jeremy Roenick spoke with The Sun minutes before his appearance at Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville Wednesday night and offered a bit more insight into himself and the book.

Q: This is your first book. Why did you decide you needed to write it?

A: “People have asked me for five or six years about doing a book since I was always so outspoken and controversial. There were a lot of stupid things I said and did during my career.”

Q: So is this a way to set the record straight?

A: “Not really. It’s just a story about my life and people I’ve met, people that have influenced me, things that happened in the bars. People think the life athletes lead is glamorous and it’s really not. After the 2005 lockout I found out I wasn’t as good as I thought I was. You take a year off. You stop training and I didn’t take care of myself.”

Q: How would you like to be remembered?

A: “In a word, I was a warrior. I was a guy who tried to hurt you every way I could, on the scoreboard, physically, and psychologically. I wanted to give something back to the sport and make it fun to watch.”

Q: So were you a ‘bad boy’ as a youngster? Was being this aggressive always in your nature?

A: “Not at all. I was a passive and shy kid. When I left home and had a few dollars in my pocket, I still hadn’t gotten any real guidance. But when the coach tells you to play a certain way, that’s when it started. Coach (Mike) Keenan was the one who molded me. And when you play like that, it’s addicting. You get these rushes.”

Q: Most athletes who have been beat up as much as you often live with certain injuries the rest of their lives. What issues are you dealing with?

A: “Actually the worst thing is probably my knees. They’re a lot stiffer when you bend down to get something. My face and my jaw are pretty good. I had my jaw broken once in 28 places.”

Q: You mentioned something earlier about your wife. Are you two still together?

A: “I met my wife when I was 13 years old. We’re still together and our relationship is stronger than ever.”

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Updated: January 15, 2013 11:18AM

The Christmas season evokes warm and cuddly feelings with twinkling lights, fireplaces aglow, and delicious things to eat.

A smash-mouth hockey player may seem a little out of season then, but fans could have cared less Wednesday night as former Blackhawks’ star Jeremy Roenick appeared at Anderson’s Bookshop to promote his volatile book, “J.R.: My Life as the Most Outspoken, Fearless, and Hard-Hitting Man in Hockey.”

Wednesday’s crowd, which numbered close to 300 people, clearly was high on Roenick’s ferocious style of play.

“I played hockey myself, and now I’m coaching my son’s team,” said Naperville resident Danielle Sharp. “I love the game and the aggressive style of play. I’m a big fan of Roenick’s and I’d say my style of playing was tough as well. You could say I was a tomboy when I grew up.”

Roenick played professional hockey from 1988 through 2009 which included stints with a variety of NHL teams including the Phoenix Coyotes, the Philadelphia Flyers, Los Angeles Kings, and the San Jose Sharks. He spent a total of eight seasons with the Blackhawks.

Roenick stood on a stool when he appeared just shortly after 7 p.m. and invited fans to ask a few questions before signing books. The first question, predictably, was whether or not there would be hockey this season due to the current NHL strike.

“I think we will. I mean we’re talking about something like $3 billion at stake,” Roenick said with a laugh. “If there isn’t a season then these people are crazier than I thought.”

Other questions ranged from queries about the favorite goal Roenick ever scored to which players he currently likes on the Blackhawks. Roenick said his most memorable game took place in 2002 when he played for the U.S. team during the 2002 Olympics.

“We lost that game to Canada, but there was such a great rivalry with them and hockey began to improve after that,” he said.

Fans snatched up multiple copies of Roenick’s book with many, like Lisle’s Bill Mactrinder, saying they planned to give away extras as Christmas presents.

“I have five copies here and this is definitely going to be a hockey Christmas,” Mactrinder said. “I watched Roenick at 18 years old when he first came up and started playing for the Blackhawks. He hit everything on ice and played the game the way it should have been played.”

The female crowd also admitted being drawn to Roenick’s ruggedly handsome appearance. Caitlin Sullivan of Naperville said she and her sister both have enjoyed watching Roenick play and that she was found the former player attractive.

“I mean, you do have to say he’s good looking,” she said.

Oswego resident Melissa Hupfel said she wanted to buy a book for her boyfriend and that she hoped there would still be hockey this year. She said both she and her boyfriend are huge hockey fans.

“If they don’t end this strike, I think they’re going to lose a lot of fans,” she said.

Seven-year-old Zack Sharp said he started skating at the age of 2 and wants to be a hockey player himself someday. When asked about the physical nature of the game and the possible injuries, Sharp hesitated about going pro.

“Maybe I’ll just have to be faster and get away from everybody,” he said.

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