Tampa Bay Lightning radio play-by-play broadcaster Dave Mishkin wrote his first novel, Blind Squirrel. (Photo courtesy of Dave Mishkin.)

Tampa Bay Lightning radio play-by-play broadcaster Dave Mishkin had an idea for a novel in the early 2000s. After experiencing some writer’s block, Mishkin put the project away for several years. In 2022, he was inspired to finish what he started when faced with the possibility of a long offseason without calling Lightning hockey games, with the team on the brink of elimination.  

Mishkin fleshed out the story in his mind for five or six weeks before even writing. The Lightning ended up going to the Stanley Cup finals after facing elimination in the first round of the playoffs against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Around the time the team started the playoff series against the Avalanche, he had written a chapter outline with the core ideas of the book. The first chapter that he wrote was actually the final chapter of the novel.

“The inspiration came years and years ago, but once I realized that I had the story I knew that I had to see it through,” said Mishkin. “I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself if, after all these years, the story came together in my mind and I didn’t actually see it through.” 

Blind Squirrel is about a minor league hockey player who has mental health issues after losing his parents in a car accident at a young age. The story mostly takes place in Hershey, Pennsylvania, where Mishkin is from. The book’s protagonist, Noah Nicholson, after having a good career, starts his mental healing process after a career-ending injury to his eye. According to Mishkin, by the end of the book Noah is in a much better place than where he began, and he is able to live a much better life. He hopes that this part of the story will resonate with his audience.

“First and foremost, I hope if people read the book, they finish it and say, ‘I really enjoyed that, I’m glad I read the book,’ beyond any kind of message. I think that Noah’s story is one in which the message is that you are not defined by the circumstances in your life, and he finds a way to lead a much more fulfilling life.”

Mishkin has been the Tampa Bay Lightning radio play-by-play broadcaster since 2002. The Yale graduate spent the prior 11 years as a minor league hockey broadcaster before joining the three-time Stanley Cup-winning club.

“I love what I do,” said Mishkin. “I was very lucky at a young age to find something that I enjoyed and then find somebody to pay me to do that thing,” he joked. “I’ve gotten great pleasure from doing something that I love and feel grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to do it for all these years.”

The author will donate some of the proceeds of the book to Tampa Bay Thrives, a coalition of community leaders committed to improving mental health and substance use disorder issues in our region. According to its website, the goal of the organization is to strengthen behavioral health outcomes by mobilizing communities, improving early intervention and guiding access to professionals.

For more information about the book or if you’d like to order the novel, which is available in digital and print, visit www.blindsquirrelnovel.com.

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Nick Nahas
Nick Nahas has written for the Osprey Observer since 2016. He has lived in the Valrico area since 2002 and has his bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of South Florida. He is dedicated to covering sports in Hillsborough County at every level.