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Former Red Wings Doctor Promotes New Book in Plymouth Visit

Dr. John Finley helped keep Red Wings players healthy for 46 years.

For 46 years, Dr. John Finley of Birmingham helped ensure the Detroit Red Wings stayed healthy. 

Working behind the scenes for the team from 1957-2003, Finley treated multiple generations of all-time Red Wings greats ranging from Gordie Howe to Steve Yzerman.

Finley documents his experiences with the team over its storied history in a new book, Hockeytown Doc, which Finley promoted Wednesday at an appearance at Kroger in Plymouth Township.

"I started recording little excerpts that occurred as I'd think about it," he said. "Then we put it all together and made a book out of it."

Finley said his initial plans for the book were to make it a keepsake and not necessarily a published work.

"I was originally going to do it for my family, as a legacy for them," he said. 

Instead, he said, the book now is on shelves at Kroger, Barnes and Noble and other book retailers. He said there also is an electronic edition for Kindle devices.

Finley said during his 46 years as the team doctor, he developed personal relationships with many of the players, coaches and staff.

"Back in the old days, we used to take care of everybody," he said. "The teams were very close. There were only 120 players in the league, so we knew just about everybody. We played each time seven times at home and seven times away."

Finley said he has seen the game evolve from the NHL's Original Six era where helmets and facemasks were seldom to its present-day iteration, where players across the NHL's 30 teams are bigger and faster. 

While promoting the book, Finley has stopped at other Kroger locations, as well as Hockeytown Authentics in Troy and stops in Toronto, Chicago and San Diego.

During his Plymouth stop, where he signed copies of his book for Red Wings fans, Finley encountered a former player he once treated after taking a skate to the face.

Bob Peterson, now living in Canton, played for the Detroit Junior Red Wings (now the Plymouth Whalers) from 1960-63.

"I was playing for the Junior Red Wings and he was our team doctor," Peterson said, as the Junior Red Wings and Detroit Red Wings both played out of the Detroit Olympia at the time. "We were in Windsor in a practice and one of our forwards' skates came up and flew up in front of me and sliced me."

Finley, he said, stitched him up so he could return to the ice. 

"Doc Finley was a great doctor," Peterson said. "He was very low-key, just a perfect gentleman."

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