Hockey History Books

Discussion in 'The History of Hockey' started by Stoneberg, Oct 28, 2009.

  1. JMCx4

    JMCx4 Gateway to Hockey

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    Last night I finished reading The Greatest Game I Ever Played: 40 Epic Tales of Hockey Brilliance, a collection of short profiles published in 2016 and written by staff members of The Hockey News & several freelance sports writers. My wife bought the book for me as a Christmas present, not long after I had dismissed it during an on-line searches for new-to-me hockey titles. I'm glad she knows my tastes in reading better than I do, because this turned out to be a great little read. Each story is a one-to-three page retrospective on a special moment in the career of a well-known hockey player, covering personal memories from the Olympics & juniors & college & minor pro & NHL games for both men and women in the game. Not much detail in any one of the stories, but more importantly not much fluff either. The individual authors (and the book's editor, I'm sure) get right to the point, and each does a very good job of capturing the excitement & drama of the moments described. Easy & fun to read, just the way I like 'em.
     
  2. coatjones

    coatjones Debauchery #1

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    Just finished When the Rangers Were Young by Frank Boucher. I'm sure it's been discussed in here, but it's an AWESOME flash back to the original era of the club. It's a shame that the book can be so hard to find these days. I'm really hoping that Boucher and company gets their due at the 100th anniversary.
     
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  3. JMCx4

    JMCx4 Gateway to Hockey

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    So I guess everybody's too busy watching hockey to have time to read about it? o_O
     
  4. Chili

    Chili Registered User

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    Was reading some books on WWI last fall including 'Victory at Vimy' (which I recommend) and that book mentioned Conn Smythe's close call during the battle.

    So I picked up a copy of 'If you can't beat 'em in the alley - The memoirs of the late Conn Smythe'.

    Great read about his hockey and military careers, a lot of early NHL history references including the famous Shore/Bailey incident. Smythe had a number of close calls in his lifetime, especially during his military tours in both World Wars. He became a pilot later in WWI, would be shot down and became a prisoner of war later escaping before being recaptured. He was seriously wounded in WWII, injuries that effected the rest of his life.

    I don't believe he is listed as such but he was actually the first gm of the Rangers. He assembled most of the team that would win the Cup in it's second season. He got into a dispute with the owner about acquiring a player (Babe Dye) and was replaced by Lester Patrick before the Rangers played their first game. He goes on to tell the stories of buying into the Saint Patricks which he renamed the Maple Leafs after gaining control of the team. A lot of stories in there about the early days of the Leafs teams and players.

    Very interesting read.
     
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  5. JMCx4

    JMCx4 Gateway to Hockey

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    I finally finished reading Gerald Eskanazi's A Thinking Man's Guide to Pro Hockey. The first half of the book was tough to get through, with the author emphasizing his "Thinking Man" theme by means of flowery verbiage to describe very mundane facts & figures & aspects of the game from player positions to hockey operations to game officials roles. But once I got to Chapter 5 (of 7), the insights into daily routines and early expansion and social/psychological influences on NHL hockey made the read much easier & more enjoyable. Being written in the era of the first two NHL expansions (published in 1972), the book comes off with a decided quaintness for the modern reader - if hockey can be described as "quaint" under any circumstances. But if you can get through the first several chapters of material that has been covered in dozens of other hockey books cited in this thread, you should encounter some fascinating glimpses of how the people & situations of the pre-expansion era have affected today's game.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2019
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  6. Habsfan18

    Habsfan18 Collector/Historical Research

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    Some new books hitting the market this fall..

    Most Valuable: How Sidney Crosby Became the Best Player in Hockey’s Greatest Era and Changed the Game Forever (by Gare Joyce)

    Nicklas Lidstrom: The Pursuit of Perfection (by Gunnar Nordstrom & Bob Duff)

    Relentless: My Life in Hockey and the Power of Perseverance (Bryan Berard autobiography with Jim Lang)

    Eddie Olczyk: Beating the Odds in Hockey and in Life (Ed Olczyk autobiography with Perry Lefko)

    The Grim Reaper: The Life and Career of a Reluctant Warrior (Stu Grimson autobiography)

    No Days Off: My Life with Type 1 Diabetes and Journey to the NHL (Max Domi autobiography)
     
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  7. JMCx4

    JMCx4 Gateway to Hockey

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    Well, I read enough of Stephen Smith's Puckstruck: Distracted, Delighted and Distressed by Canada's Hockey Obsession to wish I hadn't left it in the seat back pocket on my LGA-to-Halifax flight two weeks ago. :( When I purchased the book last year, I was expecting yet another compendium of stories laced with Canadian regrets & inferiority complexes. So I was pleasantly surprised by Mr. Smith's approach to weaving history & honor & sportsmanship & profiles of players and games into a very readable book. I was especially looking forward to reviewing his ending list of reference materials to guide my future hockey book purchasing decisions. Now all I've got left is the book jacket (left at home to prevent tearing in transport), and a goal to find a paperback copy so I can finish the other ≈60% of the book. Maybe a hockey fan/Delta passenger or YHZ airplane clean-up crew member will send me their review. :help:
     
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  8. JMCx4

    JMCx4 Gateway to Hockey

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    I finished reading two more hockey books on Friday, very different but in some ways the same. The first title was Bob Plager's Tales from the Blues Bench, co-authored by St. Louis Blues' hockey legend Bobby Plager and St. Louis-based sportswriter Tom Wheatley. Since I grew up following & loving hockey in St. Louis, the simple first-person stories recounted in this book felt very familiar to me. Bobby is an emotional guy and those emotions - positive and negative - translate well in his writing. This title would be more suited to & probably more appreciated by a Blues fan, but any long-time hockey lover would find the history & attitudes familiar and entertaining.

    The second title was written from a child's point of view and marketed accordingly, but I found it very enjoyable even as an aging adult. Paul Harbridge's When The Moon Comes is brilliantly illustrated by Matt James, and the story & art work combine to capture many of the hockey-related emotions that I can remember as a kid playing the game on frozen lakes & ponds. The book seemed to be a thematic extension of Roch Carrier's The Hockey Sweater, addressing the same sorts of childhood dreams but without the disappointments. I'd recommend this short but entertaining read to any hockey fan who misses the thrill of a cold winter wind on their face as they skate on moonlit ice. "Climate change" and age change have made those special times harder to recreate for many of us.

    ETA: I just realized that I've now reached my 100 hockey books read milestone. Onward to 200.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2019
  9. Theokritos

    Theokritos Moderator

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    A good opportunity to thank you for your reviews here. Keep it up!
     
  10. Pominville Knows

    Pominville Knows Manager of the MountainLake StreetCats in ATD'20

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    So can anyone brief me about the real old books, like Frank Bouchers mentioned above? If would probably make for a great read when the whole story will be wrapped in i guess up to a hundred year old wordings and associations etc.
     
  11. Muuri

    Muuri Registered User

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    Any good books on Canada vs. Soviet Union hockey rivalry?
     
  12. Habsfan18

    Habsfan18 Collector/Historical Research

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    Many books were published on the Summit Series in particular (probably 30+) but there have been a few on the Canada-Soviet rivalry as a whole if that’s more what you’re looking for.

    The Red Machine (Lawrence Martin) - this is one of the best hockey books ever written. It’s not necessarily a book specifically focused on the rivalry with Canada, but it’s the best book out there from the Russian hockey history point of view. It’s a must read.

    War On Ice (Scott Young)

    Epic Confrontation: Canada vs Russia On Ice (Greg Franke)
     
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  13. Habsfan18

    Habsfan18 Collector/Historical Research

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  14. JMCx4

    JMCx4 Gateway to Hockey

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    I just completed Bernie Federko's My Blues Note. Same general topic as Bob Plager's book, though in overlapping playing eras, but with a decidedly different tone. It feels odd saying that Bernie's autobiography seemed very self-centered to me, but that was the primary impression I came away with from the book. He expressed a lot more negative emotions about his relationships with former teammates & management & employers than I ever expected, while taking every opportunity to toot his own horn. Not at all what I expected from the persona that he displayed publicly as I watched him play and saw him/heard him broadcast in St. Louis as I followed the St. Louis Blues over the last 40+ years. But it was an easy book to read, and has quite a few unique personal anecdotes that I think long-time Blues fans would enjoy.
     
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  15. kaiser matias

    kaiser matias Registered User

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    I've read a bunch of books recently, so will give some thoughts on them.

    Art Ross: The Hockey Legend Who Built the Bruins by Eric Zweig:

    Eric Zweig shows his ability as one of the leading hockey historians here. Very meticulous, he has completed an excellent biography of Ross. He contradicts long-held facts about Ross, things like his birth date and family situation, going to the primary sources like a true historian. Despite this the book does not read like an academic work, but is lively and interesting, and moves at a quick pace despite the many things that occurred throughout Ross' life. It is particularly useful as it doesn't just focus on his time in hockey, but looks at Art Ross the individual, something that is equally important but often neglected in biographies of sports players.

    Old Scores, New Goals: The Story of the Ottawa Senators by Joan Finnigan:

    This is not so much a story of the original Ottawa Senators, but more a series of interviews and anecdotes from players and individuals from that era. Written by the daughter of Frank Finnigan, Joan Finnigan was a notable historian of the Ottawa Valley, and this book is in a similar manner. It recounts how hockey was in the early 20th century for players and followers of the sport, with a series of interviews from players (including her father) and fans. It doesn't focus too much on the Senators themselves, but more the atmosphere of the era, and it should be regarded as such. That said, the final chapter is a great introspective into the formation of the modern Senators, as Finnigan recounts the business details that went into the expansion process leading up to the 1992 start of the new Senators. For that alone it is a worthwhile read, as is the stories of players crossing the frozen Ottawa river in the dead of winter to play games in Ottawa or Hull.

    We Want Fish Sticks: The Bizarre and Infamous Rebranding of the New York Islanders by Nicholas Hershon:

    This is not a conventional hockey book. Despite the cover and title, it is a more academic look at a business aspect of the sport, namely the New York Islanders re-branding attempt in the mid-1990s. Hirshon looks at why it happened, how it was implemented, and why it failed, while only looking at game results to emphasize his points. For those interested in a comprehensive look at the business side of hockey, and sports in general, this is a great book, and as a re-worked PhD dissertation it is thoroughly researched, with Hirshon using contemporary media stories and interviews with most of the key figures to defend his argument. If you are looking for stories about the Islanders of this era, it is not quite that type of book, though he is unabashedly critical of Mike Milbury, so there is some nods to that style

    The Ovechkin Project: A Behind-The-Scenes Look at Hockey's Most Dangerous Player by Damien Cox and Gare Joyce (I also posted this in the Worst Hockey Book thread, so apologies):

    Going in I should have known that as a book written by Cox it would be bad (see my comments about his ghost-written Brodeur autobiography above), but Joyce isn't too bad so maybe it would balance out. It did not, frankly was terrible. To start with, it was not done with the consent of Ovechkin, so his perspective is completely absent, and all references to him are second-hand. That doesn't necessarily make a bad book, but this one was.

    First, there are several obvious errors throughout the book, ones that any seasoned hockey fan would notice, and one would expect an experienced journalist and book publisher would catch. Things like a "1988 Canada Cup", referring to a "Rich Stadium" for the 2007 Winter Classic (it had been Ralph Wilson Stadium for about a decade by that point), noting Lester Patrick as the Rangers coach in 1940 (Frank Boucher had taken over), and saying Crosby and Stamkos shared the 2010 Art Ross Trophy for goal scoring (they shared the Rocket Richard; the Art Ross of course being for points, which Henrik Sedin won that year). These are beyond embarrassing for two people who are literally paid to write about hockey, and while some may think it's pedantic to note, I would think people here would understand.

    Next, the book has an unusual focus: it covers Ovechkin's rookie season over parts of two pages, and the first three seasons of his career in less than five. However it spends ten pages detailing a meaningless game between the Capitals and Penguins in 2010, and then exact detail on the 2010 first round playoff series between Washington and Montreal. One would be forgiven for not knowing Ovechkin scored 65 goals one season, the first time in a decade someone had scored that many, or that he won the Art Ross Trophy the same year, as they are quickly passed over. Instead pages are spent critiquing the coaching techniques of Viacheslav Bykov, who led the Russians at the 2010 Winter Olympics. On multiple occasions the writers outright suggest broadcaster Pierre Maguire knew more about what was going on than Bykov did, and while Bykov should be criticized for his efforts, Maguire is not exactly a good comparable.

    There is also considerable emphasis placed on Crosby. This of course is to be expected in writing about Ovechkin, however the way the book fawns over Crosby, seeing no fault in him, while Ovechkin is perceived to be full of errors, is grating, and at times it feels like the book is written about Crosby and not Ovechkin (Joyce of course wrote a book on Crosby a couple years before this, and had a second one published in 2019 extolling the virtues of Crosby as the best player in NHL history).

    Lastly there is an undue attack on Ovechkin the person, and perceived slights towards the media. Again, pages are spent on some insignificant time he brushed off Ken Campbell, and undue weight is spent on Ovechkin signing with an ad agency, and then worrying about the agency's investment in Ovechkin. It comes across as a couple writers angry that Ovechkin wouldn't talk to them, so they want to showcase him as someone unfriendly with the media, which is definitely not something that one could say about Ovechkin, especially in the early years of his NHL career.

    Hopefully there will come a time when a real biography of Ovechkin is written. But this is not it, and should not be considered something anyone should read with any hopes of learning anything useful about the individual.
     
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  16. SealsFan

    SealsFan Registered User

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  17. The Pale King

    The Pale King katabat.bandcamp*****

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    Just starting "Scotty" by Ken Dryden this evening. Excited, as I don't mind a minimalist-style prose like Dryden's if the "content" can stand on it's own, though Bowman isn't exactly a renowned storyteller either, so hopefully things aren't too stark.

    I'll report back.
     
  18. tarheelhockey

    tarheelhockey Highest Boss

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    I'm absolutely shocked that this one hasn't been mentioned after 22 pages.

    The Lives of Conn Smythe: From the Battlefield to Maple Leaf Gardens
    Kelly McParland

    Extremely well-written and well-researched. McParland does a phenomenal, maybe even definitive job of understanding Conn Smythe the human being (which is no small feat). He also takes advantage of the fact that Smythe's personal relationships touched nearly every corner of hockey in its early decades, and uses Smythe's personal story as a framework for understanding how amateur and professional hockey developed from the 1910s through the 1970s. The result is a smooth, easy read with a professional journalist's tone.

    I cannot recommend highly enough -- this is a very good read for anyone with a serious interest in hockey history.

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B004Y89QOA/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1
     
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  19. JMCx4

    JMCx4 Gateway to Hockey

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  20. Habsfan18

    Habsfan18 Collector/Historical Research

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    New hockey book season is upon us. I’m a few chapters into the Grimson book..good stuff so far! The Lidstrom book was fine. A “safe” biography is how I’d put it. Not bad, but nothing all that interesting either. Sort of left me wanting more.

    1D457EA6-EF0A-4D8B-BA08-B1DD5EC6D410.jpeg
     
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  21. JMCx4

    JMCx4 Gateway to Hockey

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    I'm not sure why it took me over 3 months to finish this book, because it ended up climbing into my all-time Top 10 hockey books. Stephen Cole's Hockey Night Fever: Mullets, Mayhem and the Game's Coming of Age in the 1970s is a very well written and seemingly well researched collection of personal & professional stories about the characters and events that shaped the NHL of the '70s and subsequent decades. Having read a lot of hockey books, and having learned about & learned to love hockey over that particular decade, I was surprised at the large number of anecdotes and factoids that were brought to my attention by Cole's story telling. The book covers the time period chronologically, with each season's collection of stories wrapped up by an emotional account of the final playoff results. But the way the author connects the people & events of each season doesn't make it seem like just a recount of stats & game highlights. I would definitely recommend Hockey Night Fever as an entertaining read.

    ETA: For full disclosure, there is scant mention of Mullets or Mayhem and very little ink given to the Coming of Age aspects of 1970s hockey in this book. It seems the book's publisher wanted to pump up the title for promotion. But I still recommend Stephen Cole's storytelling.
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2019
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  22. demetfr

    demetfr Registered User

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    Hi Pnep great stuff as always, do you happen to have some of these listed books as a pdf ? Thanks
     
  23. Chili

    Chili Registered User

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    Smythe had a very interesting life within hockey, the military and beyond.

    If you enjoyed this book, recommend his memoirs 'If you can't beat 'em in the Alley'. (my review is post # 529).
     
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  24. Chili

    Chili Registered User

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    [​IMG]

    Picked up this book to read about Vaclav Nedomansky and his defection. Other interesting stories in there like the Stastnys and the player in my avatar (Bohumil Modry).
     
  25. JMCx4

    JMCx4 Gateway to Hockey

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    I finished Brian McFarlane's Golden Oldies: Stories of Hockey's Heroes this week while on a business trip (and surprised myself by remembering to retrieve the paperback from the airline seat back pocket before I deplaned). Very good pace to this title, with profiles of former players & coaches & owners primarily presented by the author in the subjects' own words. They read sort of like mini-autobiographies periodically broken up by notes from McFarlane, a story-telling style that took me several chapters to get used to (especially trying to figure out from the print font whether it was McFarlane or his subject speaking). But many of the profiles were of hockey people that I knew little or nothing about, so the book held my attention for the majority of my reading. The inclusion of a chapter on "Badger" Bob Johnson & closing the book with a Clint Malarchuk perspective seemed to stretch the "Golden Oldies" theme. But overall this book was a very enjoyable read, and I'd recommend it to other hockey fans wanting some insight into the lives & personalities of many great North American hockey legends and a handful of lesser-knowns through the 20th Century.
     

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