Shut Out is a hockey love story. But it’s a love that was unrequited.
Bernie Saunders had a passion for hockey. His prodigious talent was on display at all levels. But because he was Black, he was stymied at every turn and experienced nothing but taunting from opponents, spectators, coaches and even his own teammates. Despite this malevolence, Saunders continued to play, adopting a style akin to that of the historic house slave: serve but remain invisible. Signed by the Quebec Nordiques, he played with them for two years, but spent most of his career playing collegiately at Western Michigan University and in the minor leagues in Canada and the US. In the end, it was all too much for Saunders. Dogged and overwhelmed by racism, he finally left hockey to work in the corporate sector.
This is a memoir about professional hockey by a player who had the potential to become a star but was blocked at almost every opportunity because of his race. In spite of this, Shut Out is a hopeful and uplifting book about facing adversity, overcoming it and moving ahead. Woven throughout the book is Saunders’s love of his family, especially his brother, John, who died at age sixty-one. Now retired, Bernie Saunders is still sought out by the hockey community for his observations and advice.