The Best New Hockey Books (Plus Classics We Love)
NHL fans have a whole lot to be thankful for this season. For starters, there’s no lockout ruining their hockey-watching fun. And from Bruins legend Bobby Orr’s new memoir to a 30th anniversary edition of Ken Dryden’s “The Game,” there’s a host of great new hockey books on shelves, too. If your team’s not playing tonight or you’re biding time between periods, pick up one of these fantastic hockey books to get an inside look at your favorite players and teams.
Great new hockey reads
He was the scrappy star who led the Boston Bruins to two Stanley Cup victories, but few fans really got to know Bobby Orr. Notoriously private, Orr receded from the spotlight after he retired to focus on coaching and family. Now, for the first time, Orr tells his life story in the memoir “Orr,” starting with his childhood in Parry Sound, Ontario and tracing his days with the wild and crazy Bruins squads of the 1970s.
Imagine President Obama writing a book about basketball. That’s sort of what’s happened in Canada, where prime minister Stephen Harper--an unabashed Toronto Maple Leafs fan—has written a new book about hockey, “A Great Game.” Hockey is Canada’s unofficial national sport, so it’s fitting that Harper is weighing in with a book that recounts in meticulous detail how the professional arm of the sport came to be. Told through the stories of some of Toronto’s earliest teams, it’s a comprehensive history fans will appreciate.
What was it like to grow up in the shadow of “Mr. Hockey” Gordie Howe, the star right wing who led Detroit to four Stanley Cup victories in the 1950s? Lots of fun, writes his son, Mark Howe, in his funny, candid new memoir “Gordie Howe’s Son.” Howe the younger—an NHL Hall of Famer in his own right--remembers a youth spent playing—what else—hockey anywhere sticks were allowed. Featuring rare family photos, it’s a book that’ll delight hockey fans across generations.
It’s every little hockey player’s dream: Work hard and maybe someday—someday!—you’ll make it in the big league. Sean Pronger made that dream come true, playing with the NHL for 11 seasons, though he spent most them relegated to the second string and being shuffled from team to team. Able to laugh at himself and his experiences, in “Journeyman”--out in paperback this winter--Pronger reflects on a career spent in the shadows of stars; on the New York Rangers, for example, he played with childhood idol Wayne Gretzky, though not in every game. “[I was] in the lineup one day, then out for a week. One step forward, four steps back,” he writes. Anyone who’s ever felt like an underdog will love his story.
Best Classic Hockey Books
Every little boy and girl in Canada grows up reading “The Hockey Sweater,” Roch Carrier’s classic short story about a boy who outgrows his beloved Montreal Canadiens jersey, only to be mistakenly sent a replacement shirt from the Canadiens’ rival, the Toronto Maple Leafs—a horror to the little boy, whose mother forces him to wear it and whose Canadiens-crazy friends won’t let him live it down. Based on an experience from Carrier’s own life, the iconic story is a national treasure in Canada, where a line from it once appeared on the country’s five-dollar bill.
Widely considered one of the best books about hockey ever written, Mark Dryden’s unflinching 1983 memoir “The Game” gives fans an unfettered behind-the-scenes look at a hockey squad on its way to the Stanley Cup. Dryden, a goaltender, gives vibrant descriptions of the varied and colorful personalities on his championship Montreal Canadiens squad and recounts the stresses of his job between the pipes. It’s a brutally honest examination of the sport that’s as resonant today as it was 30 years ago.
In “The Boys of Winter,” Wayne Coffey tells the story of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey squad that bested the Russian national team to win gold in one of the most unforgettable games in hockey history. Immortalized on the big screen in the 2004 Disney film “Miracle,” the tale of Team U.S.A.’s fierce hockey rivalry with the Soviet Union in the middle of the Cold War won hearts around the globe. Before this year’s Winter Olympics—which start in Sochi, Russia in February—revisit the story.