Thursday, December 9, 2010
If you are looking for a holiday gift for the hockey fan in on your list, there are any number of terrific hockey books out there and today we have a number of recommendations to share.
One of the things we enjoy the most is the way hockey and culture differs throughout the world. Several books that come to mind are "King of Russia", the story of Dave King, the first Canadian to coach a Russian hockey club team. Along that same line is "From Behind the Red Line", Tod Harjte's fascinating story as the first North American player in Russia, which occurred just as the Soviet Union had dissolved. Laura Sullivan's "Away Games" takes a trip across Europe during the NHL lockout of 2004-05, visiting seven countries to document the experiences of NHL players overseas.
Another topic of interest to us is the early history of hockey, of which there are many choices. "Putting a Roof on Winter" is an excellent chronicle of hockey's rise from the beginning, while "Deceptions and Doublecross: How the NHL Conquered Hockey" tells the story of the formation of the world's most important league in 1917.
There are certainly biographies too numerous to mention, but some of the most notable are "Gordie - A Hockey Legend", "Jacques Plante: The Man Who Changed the Face of Hockey", the recent "Eddie Shore and that Old Time Hockey". Other players are Patrick Roy, Jean Beliveau, Bob Probert, the always entertaining Phil Esposito, Mark Messier and of course Bobby Orr.
There have even been entire books written about single games. "When the Lights Went Out" details the infamous brawl between Canada and the Soviet Union at the World Junior Championships in 1987. "The Greatest Game" documents the memorable contest between the Montreal Canadiens and the Soviet Red Army on New Year's Eve in 1975.
The 1980 US Olympic hockey team's "Miracle on Ice" victory over the Soviet Union at Lake Placid has spawned a number of titles, the best of which are "The Boys of Winter" documents the how the team came together and won, and "Herb Brooks: The Inside Story of a Hockey Mastermind" is a truly inside look into the story of Brooks written by his personal friend and newspaper reporter John Gilbert. Along the same lines, but lesser known, is "Striking Silver", the story of the 1972 US Olympic Team, who placed a stunning second in Sapporo, Japan.
For Canadian readers, the equivalent to the "Miracle on Ice" has to be the 1972 Summit Series, the memorable eight game series that captivated a nation as it played out, cumulating with Paul Henderon's iconic goal in Game 8. "Cold War" recounts the events of the series, as does "Face-off at the Summit", goaltender Ken Dryden's diary of his participation in the series. Another diary kept during the Summit Series is "Hockey Showdown", by Team Canada head coach Harry Sinden.
Speaking of Ken Dryden, he has also authored other hockey books, including the seminal "The Game" and it's follow up, "Home Game".
There are of course books dedicated to individual clubs, including the Minnesota North Stars, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders and Buffalo Sabres as well as the rich histories of the Original 6 clubs.
The World Hockey Association has also spawned some books to chronicle the outrageous tales and legendary characters of the short-lived rival to the NHL. Probably best known is "The Rebel League". "Red, White & Blues" documents Wayne Gretzky's first professional club, the Indianapolis Racers. For those interested in statistics, "The World Hockey Association Fact Book" is a must have for WHA fans.
The Hockey Hall of Fame has also published a number of fine books, including the beautifully photographed "Hockey Hall of Fame Legends", "Hockey Hall of Fame Book of Goalies" and the "Official Guide to Players in the Hockey Hall of Fame".
There are finally the books that cover the history of hockey and the NHL. Our recommended favorites in that category include "Hockey": A People's History" about what the game means to Canada, "The Official Illustrated NHL History" and the newly released "Sports Illustrated - The Hockey Book". Fans of international hockey will want to pick up "World of Hockey", published on the occasion of the International Ice Hockey Federation's 100th anniversary. "Lord Stanley's Cup" documents the history of hockey's most sought after trophy. Looking for one book that simply has everything? "Total Hockey" is just that. At six pounds, if it's not in Total Hockey, it's not worth knowing.
In all honesty, we've only just scratched the surface of all the numerous hockey books available, but these are some of our favorites for you to consider for the hockey fan on your gift list.