Toronto Maple Leafs’ Zach Hyman on hitting the ice and the books

Forest Hill native pens children's books when he's not playing hockey


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Zach Hyman signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs as a free agent in 2015

When Zach Hyman was growing up in the Forest Hill neighbourhood of Toronto, he was the oldest of five siblings. Being a storyteller and lover of books (and reading aloud) was pretty handy for keeping the younger ones in line and helping out his parents. Now, as one of the young stars of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Hyman continues to be a role model for young people both through his play on the ice and as a published author of three books for kids.

“I’m the oldest of five boys, so kind of being a storyteller was in my nature,” says Hyman.

“I would help around the house by making stories up. And I didn’t really think anything of it, until I won a short story competition in Grade 7, and after that my dad encouraged me, and I liked the creative aspect and from there just kind of went into it.”

Hyman continued his scholarly efforts at Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto followed by the University of Michigan where he played varsity hockey before being signed by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2015.

"Every athlete, no matter what sport, should have something they love to do outside that sport."

Hyman joined the team alongside big name rookies Auston Matthews and William Nylander amidst a team transition from perennial also-ran to rock solid contender.

Creative writing continues to provide Hyman with an outlet that counterbalances the intense pressure he faces during the NHL season. And it’s something he plans on continuing long after he’s laced up his last skate. 

“Every athlete, no matter what sport, should have something they love to do outside that sport because there is a lot of pressure and a lot that goes on that people don’t see,” he explains.

“You don’t want to be a one-dimensional person. Writing for me is an escape and a way to do that and something that I love.”

In each of Hyman’s three published children’s books — The Bambino and Me (2014), Hockey Hero (2015) and The Magician’s Secret (2018) — there is a strong message of self-belief, the power of imagination and the importance of hard work.

These are values that Hyman learned from his own parents and grandparents that he is keen to pass on to the younger generation whether through his on-ice work, his charity efforts with organizations such as Right To Play or through his writing.

“As a role model for kids, I like to hit them from different angles,” says Hyman.

Although nothing is “set in stone,” rumour has it that Hyman’s next book might involve the sport of basketball. Until then, he has a Stanley Cup to win.

“It’s a long way away, so we are not focused on those things,” he says. “It was a good off-season, and we are just starting to ramp up a bit. We are focused on day one, and we will take it from there. It’s just exciting to get started.”

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