“It all comes down to making the right life choices,” says the NHL’s legendary Reggie Leach, and this intimate biography lays bare the decisions that led him to become one of the best snipers in hockey history. Nicknamed the Riverton Rifle for his thrilling speed and deadly shooting skills, Leach overcame a childhood marked by poverty and racism to rise through the NHL, playing for the Stanley Cup-winning 1975 Philadelphia Flyers. Through Leach’s own recollections, The Riverton Rifle traces his trajectory from humble beginnings to NHL stardom, and follows the dramatic fall caused by his drinking problem and his subsequent rebirth as a successful businessman, family man, and pillar of the Aboriginal community.
Leach, an NHL star in the 1970s, was nicknamed the Riverton Rifle for his skills as a scoring sniper, and his fast-moving autobiography has some of that speed and momentum. At first, he seems hesitant to reveal details, only briefly describing his childhood as the son of a young M tis father and Ojibwe mother, raised by his grandparents in the small town of Riverton, Manitoba, and his early days as a junior hockey sensation in Flin Flon. After that, however, like Leach racing down the wing to fire on the net, it's go-go-go. There is plenty of detail about his days in the NHL: his beginnings in Boston, suffering with the hapless California Golden Seals, glory days in Philadelphia, and a forgotten final season in Detroit. He also describes the destructive effect that alcoholism had on his career and marriage, and how he rebuilt his life after rehabilitation. Leach includes some funny family stories, including some about his son, Jamie, who also played in the NHL, but he dishes little dirt about teammates. Quotes from family members, friends, and other players are sprinkled throughout on their own pages, and while they are revealing, they tend to disrupt the narrative.