Hello again, hockey family. The past week many more of us across the world were placed in a stay at home state to combat COVID-19. Hockey, by the book is here for you to combat the boredom as you combat COVID-19.
Hockey, by the Book in Lockdown
Firstly, I sincerely hope that all of you are doing well, are staying healthy and sane, as more of us are going into lockdown. These unsettling times leave many of us searching for things that make us happy. For many of us family, pets, friends, exercise, and entertainment aid in our well being. For some of us that entertainment exists in the form of books and that is where Hockey, by the book is here to help.
Dig Into Hockey Books
Hopefully, you checked out last week’s post and my earlier articles and found inspiration and a book or two. If not get over there and check it out. Yeah, you in the hockey jersey on the couch I mean you. Last week the subject was memoirs and we barely scratched the surface. Don’t worry there are plenty more to come at a later date. This week we delve into the leagues that make up this great game. So, let’s hit the literary ice!
99 Stories of the Game
This is a great collection of stories edited and compiled by the Great One.
At first glance, this book seems unintriguing and bland. But, didn’t your mother teach you about books and covers and being judgy? I was so glad that mine did when I grabbed this off of the shelves. Gretzky and Kirstie McLellan-Day put together a great and far-reaching collection of stores about hockey. Between the pages, you find the meat and potatoes that make up the NHL. It’s a story worthy of the best league in the world with all of the dekes, hits and backroom deals that it took to get there.
Gretzky tells the stories of his heroes, opponents, and teams with the grace and humility he always exhibits. The stories are laid out in chronological order and cover the start of professional hockey with Tex Ricard and the New York Americans and move through the history of the game to the modern-day. The collection is book-ended with Gretzky waxing poetic about visiting the Hockey Hall of Fame and pondering how Howie Morenz scored so many goals with a chunk of wood. It ends with a 1998 meeting with Maurice Rocket Richard. In between are the stories of the Oilers and Islanders dynasties. Trailbreakers like Willie O’Ree and Fred Saskamoose and underdog stories like the 1980 USA miracle team. If you have never ventured into the hockey literature and history world do yourself a favor and order this book. You will not be disappointed!
The Rebel League
In its short history, the World Hockey Association (WHA) changed the game of hockey. Opening the game up to new markets and energizing fans in a way that the stuffy NHL had never done. In this book, ‘The Rebel League, The short and unruly life of the World Hockey Association’, author Ed Willes paints with a fine brush the story of the league. The 1970s were a time of social upheaval and for a few hockey players, teams and owners a great time to rebel against the NHL. Though the league only existed from 1972 -79 they signed the highest-paid player in professional sports in 1972.
Derek Sanderson played in only eight games for the Philadelphia Blazers but was signed for a world record $2.6 million. His story is a humdinger and there is a book about it that we’ll cover later. For those eight games, he made a neat $1 million.
Went to a Fight and a Hockey Game Broke Out
That storied phrase was first uttered during this era. For those of you, that love the movie Slapshot you will find the real-life inspiration for “Ogie”, Bill Goldthorpe. Though he played only three playoff games for the Houston Aeros, he certainly left his mark. The only Carlson brother not to make it to the screen, Jack Carlson gave up his chance in the film to play for the North Dakota Fighting Saints. The other brothers became two-thirds of the Hanson Brothers. The league was known as much for it’s fighting as for the hockey. This behavior influenced both leagues and the NHL, lasting well into the 1980s.
In fact, the book opens with an all-out brawl that spills out from and undressed locker room and into the streets. The fights didn’t always occur only on the ice. The book is hilarious, informative and always entertaining. Look no further if you want a picture of that rebellious and rambunctious age.
Take care, stay safe, be well and we’ll gather round the bookshelf again next week.
Got a book recommendation or one you want to mention? Let us know over on the ABNT Forum!