Cover Image: The Ultimate Road Trip

The Ultimate Road Trip

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Member Reviews

Mike Wilson, the ultimate leafs fan follows the Toronto Maple Leafs around all 89 games of the 2018-19 NHL season. Along the way he talks to Leafs fan to find out what draws them to bleed blue. 

I was in 2 minds about whether to give this book a go. I love hockey but the Leafs are not my team. I’m glad I did. With the next season being postponed because of COVID-19, it was heart warming to hear the tales from celebs, ex players and the general public about what lead them to be hockey fans and Leaf supporters. Although the writing wasn’t amazing, Wilson more than made up for it with the trials and tribulations of travelling across the US and Canada. The photos were an added plus, showing the range of people who find joy in hockey. A must read for any hockey fan. 

Thank you to ECW Press for this advanced copy.
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Many sports fans have dream trips on their bucket lists. Whether it is to visit every stadium or arena for their favorite sport or follow their favorite team to places they never saw, it is safe to say passionate fans hope to take this type of excursion.  For Toronto Maple Leafs fan Mike Wilson, he was able to make that a reality during the 2018-19 NHL season and his adventure is captured in this book he co-authored with veteran hockey author Lance Hornsby. 

Wilson had earlier been dubbed the "Ultimate Leafs Fan" by ESPN and if there ever were any doubts that this title was correct, those are wiped away after reading this book.  His trials and tribulations he encountered with transportation, lodging, security at both airports and arenas and some encounters with opposing fans might try the patience of any hardy fan.  The two most eye-opening incidents that I found in the book that made me congratulate him for his patience were an overzealous security guard in Las Vegas when he was not allowed to bring his camera into the game against the Golden Knights and his encounter with an angry New York Islanders fan who, like nearly every other fan that night, came to boo John Taveras in his first game back after leaving the Islanders to sign with his hometown Maple Leafs.

Those encounters, however, were very few compared to the wonderful stories Wilson shared with readers about Leafs fans hen saw at every city. The Maple Leafs are one of those sports franchises with a very large fan base that covers an entire nation, or in their case, two as there were large contingencies of Leafs fans in American cities Wilson visited as well as in Canadian cities. While reading the book one gets the sense of this being like a very large progressive hockey party.  Like a progressive dinner, where people have each course at different locations, Wilson seemed to have a party at each arena with his fellow Leafs fans. 

Other interesting aspects of the book that will keep a reader's interest is how his partner Deb was the person who kept all of this organized.  She was the one who arranged most of the travel and lodging for Wilson and, on occasion, herself when she joined him on a stretch of his journey.  I also like reading about how some of the fans he met would stay loyal to the Leafs even though they may be thousands of miles away from Toronto.  Wilson's encounters with some players in Leafs history were also good reading as throughout the book, his passion for the team as well as his encyclopedic knowledge shows that ESPN picked the correct person to dub "The Ultimate Leafs Fan."  While certainly Maple Leaf fans will love this book, hockey fans of any team will enjoy reading about one fan who was able to complete an incredible hockey journey. 

I wish to thank ECW Press for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
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This book was amazing! I loved hearing about all the adventures Mike went on during the season. I liked how he talked about his experience talking to people who were fans of the other team, not just the Maple Leafs. I also liked that he included the names of restaurants and bars that he dined at during his once in a lifetime adventure!
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The Ultimate Road Trip by Mike Wilson and Lance Hornsby

Mike Wilson was anointed the Ultimate Leafs Fan by ESPN for both his life-long support of the Blue and White and his massive collection of Toronto Maple Leafs memorabilia, as well as the huge amount of money he has helped raise through charitable works, and for the 2018-19 season he decided to follow the Leafs to every game, home and away. The Ultimate Road Trip chronicles that journey. As a Leafs fan myself, I was excited to follow Wilson along the way.

With the help of his support team, logistics expert and PR guru (all his wife Debs), Wilson criss-crosses Canada and the United States, meeting up with both homegrown and transplanted Toronto fans at every NHL rink, and the book is filled with their stories and photos. Some of these are interesting and heartwarming, but some chapters start to become little more than list of names and the same few favourite players and moments. 

Ultimately, though, the main issue I had with the book was Wilson himself, who even in his own tale doesn’t come across as particularly likeable. As the book progresses, he gets into arguments with opposing fans, airport staff, taxi drivers and waiters, and seems to be someone who always needs to have the last word. If it was written with more wit, and a bit more self-deprecation, this might not have grated so much, but in the end it seemed somehow apt that the book ends not with a celebration of the full panoply of joy, heartache, delight and despair that this team has put millions of us fans through over the decades, but instead with yet another of Wilson’s brushes with officialdom.

And while it might seem strange to say this, I think the book needed more hockey in it. The chapter on Arizona summed this up perfectly, containing only three paragraphs on the game itself, and a page and a half chronicling Wilson’s complaints about the difficulty in finding a particular blend of coffee in Starbucks. 

The Ultimate Road Trip promised much, but unfortunately failed to deliver. Which, now that I think about it, kinda sums up the 2018/19 Leafs team, too.
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The Ultimate Road Trip to 89 Toronto Maple Leaf games in Canada and all throughout the USA. Author  Mike Wilson dubbed “The Ultimate Leafs Fan”  take you on the most memorable trip, with stories from down memory lane to present day.  Photos of Mike and all of the leaf die hard fans are full of life, you feel their excitement and most of all the LOVE of the game.  A great read for all Maple Leaf fans.
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