December 8, 2014

2014 Hockey Books

All The Way: Jordin Tootoo with Stephen Brunt
Bench Bosses
Boy On Ice: The Life And Death of Derek Boogaard
Changing The Game: A History of NHL Expansion
Chris Chelios: Made In America
Conversations With A Rattlesnake by Theo Fleury
Defining Moments: Toronto Maple Leafs
50 Greatest Detroit Red Wings
Facing Wayne Gretzky
Fuhr: Grant Fuhr with Bruce Dowbiggin
Frozen In Time: History of Minnesota North Stars
The Great Defender by Larry Robinson with Kevin Shea
Hockey Card Stories
Hockey Confidential by Bob McKenzie
Hockey Hall of Fame Book of Trivia by Don Weekes
The Hockey Saint
Ice Storm: Rise And Fall of Vancouver Canucks
It's Our Game by Michael McKinley
The Last Hockey Game by Bruce McDougall
Mr. Hockey: My Story by Gordie Howe
NHL Treasures: Third Edition
Old Timey Hockey Tales
On The Origin Of Hockey
Save By Roy
Saved! by Clint Malarchuk
Straight Up And Personal by Don Cherry
Tales Of A First Round Nothing by Terry Ryan
The Ultimate Cookbook for Hockey Families
Warriors On The Ice

Kids Books:
The Boy In Number Four
Calvin the Cookie Maker
Duck With The Puck
Hero's Ho Ho Ho Hockey Dream
Iginla Sparks The Flames
My Granny Loves Hockey
Super Scorers
Great Goalies
Dominant Defensemen


Tales of a First Nothing by Terry Ryan

Tales of a First-Round Nothing: My Life As A NHL Footnote
Buy The Book: - Chapters -

From The Publisher: Terry Ryan was poised to take the hockey world by storm when he was selected eighth overall by the Montreal Canadiens in the 1995 NHL draft, their highest draft pick in a decade.

Expected to go on to become a hockey star, Ryan played a total of eight NHL games for the Canadiens, scoring no goals and no assists: not exactly the career he, or anyone else, was expecting.

Though Terry’s NHL career wasn’t long, he experienced a lot and has no shortage of hilarious and fascinating revelations about life in pro hockey on and off the ice. In Tales of a First-Round Nothing, he recounts fighting with Tie Domi, partying with rock stars, and everything in between. Ryan tells it like it is, detailing his rocky relationship with Michel Therrien, head coach of the Canadiens, and explaining what life is like for a man who was unprepared to have his career over so soon.

Joe's Note - I wish every hockey autobiography was as open and as entertaining as Terry Ryan's. In fact it should be mandatory reading for any player who is about to write his memoirs. While Ryan's storytelling can be a little crude, a little meandering and lacking a little polish, it was a refreshingly open read that I couldn't put down. Page after page there were more great stories - stuff you couldn't possibly make up. Most jock bios just touch on all the major milestones, often without saying much at all in the entire volume. But Ryan has a fantastic hit on his hand.


December 6, 2014

Hockey Book Review: Jean Beliveau: My Life In Hockey

Magnificent. Awe-inspiring. Compelling. Special. Honest. Classy.

Normally these words are reserved for Jean Beliveau, one of the top 10 hockey legends of all time and a man who everyone, hockey fan or not, respects and admires.

But today these adjectives, and there are never enough, are reserved for his re-released autobiography Jean Beliveau: My Life in Hockey.

Buy The Book: - Chapters -

The Beliveau story has long been a literary classic. First published in 1994 and expanded in 1995. The book was co-written with Chrys Goyens and Allan Turowetz. Now you know the always articulate Beliveau was very hands on in every incarnation of this project, but Goyens and Turowetz lend their literary prowess to make this book as strong as any book in the hockey world.

I recently review unauthorized biographies of Bobby Orr and Gordie Howe. Both were absolutely wonderful books and incredibly well written, but they both suffered from the lack of participation from the story's main character.

Now imagine a book of the same quality and of a legend of the same ilk, only this time the character is not only involved but incredibly open, personal and refreshingly frank. That has always been the magic of Beliveau's autobiography.

This magic is even more pronounced in the 2005 release, as Beliveau becomes even more reflective.

After a new foreword by Wayne Gretzky, Beliveau opens with a new chapter called "The Best Seats In The House" where it is clear he has been facing mortality for some time. He talks about his teammates who have left us, remembering lost heroes Claude Provost, Doug Harvey, Jacques Plante, J.C. Tremblay, Bob Turner, Gerry McNeil, and most importantly Rocket Richard. Just days before the Rocket's passing, Beliveau was dealt a sobering dose of mortality when hockey's ultimate gentleman was diagnosed with cancer.

Beliveau fascinates the reader just by being honest and articulate. From that point on you are captured by the book's magic.

Unlike many re-published titles, the opening chapter and new foreword are not the only new additions of the book. Most of the original chapters return in their original glory, but polished up to better connect with modern times. Beliveau enters into such topics as the 2005 lost season and the new NHL in his approach to introducing new readers to his original chapters such as "La Vielle Capitale," The Tug-of-War," "The Fantastic Fifties," "The Neglected Sixties," "The Players," "The Bobby Orr Revolution," and "The Second Floor."

Beliveau also concludes the book with two new chapters, "We Are All Fans," where he looks at his and our love of the game, and "Legacies," where he has realized his greatest legacy, after a life in hockey, may not be on the ice after all.

The original Beliveau biography is a hockey classic. But this 2005 Greystone Books re-release is so much better. I didn't know that was possible to do. It is and has been done, although its too bad one of the finest gentlemen you'll ever know had to go through so much hardship and loss to accomplish that.

Overall Book Rating: 5/5 Hall of Famer


November 30, 2014

Showtime by Ed Arnold

Showtime: One Team One Season One Step From NHL
Buy The Book - - Chapters -

From The Publisher: For fans of NHL 24/7, a raw and revealing account of roller coaster of a season of the Peterborough Petes – the launching pad for a record number of NHL stars including Steve Yzerman, Tie Domi, Roger Neilson, Chris Pronger and Bob Gainey.

But, victory is never guaranteed and after a disastrous 2011-12 season, The Petes agreed to give Ed Arnold unrestricted access throughout the 2012-13 season offering an unprecedented behind-the-scenes look at one of the most-storied hockey franchise in Canada and a season marked by defections, firings, heartbreaking losses and incredible victories. In the tradition of Next Man Up and Friday Night Lights, Chasing Hockey Dreams uncovers the world of hockey as rising stars fight their way to the pros.


November 20, 2014

We Are Your Leafs: The Toronto Maple Leafs Book of Greats

We Are Your Leafs: The Toronto Maple Leafs Book of Greats
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Boy was I ever wrong about this book!

I should have known better. Michael Ulmer is an excellent writer, especially when it comes to the Toronto Maple Leafs. But when I first learned of We Are Your Leafs: The Toronto Maple Leafs Book of Greats I foolishly assumed this was just another in the long line of photo-laden, pedestrian coffee table books about Leafs players from the past. There are quite a few over the years, after all. And they all tend to be alike.

But Ulmer's wowed me. He honoured Leafs teams and stars by the decade, and he constantly taught me new details about them. I kind of pride myself in bio writing of star players of yesteryear, and I've done a lot of reading and my own writing. But Ulmer had me devouring this book all evening as he taught me all sorts of wonderful new biographical tidbits.

Ultimately this book is a photo-laden coffee table book. The bios are excellent but still short, making this a great book to pick up every now and then, or to read all at once. The photos are well chosen, and included a few I had never seen before.

Leafs fans and hockey history fans in general will really appreciate this book. And I learned to never doubt Michael Ulmer ever again!

From The Publisher:The Toronto Maple Leafs official book of the greatest players and coaches from yesterday and today! We Are Your Leafs is the first book in an eight-book partnership between Fenn/Random House and the Toronto Maple Leafs as part of the team's forthcoming centennial celebration plans. It is the absolute must-have for Leaf fans far and wide!

The Toronto Maple Leafs have 61 players and fifteen builders inducted in the Hockey Hall of Fame, more than any other NHL franchise. Their list of team captains from the past century of hockey reads like an All-Star roster and the names of each net-minder who have stood between the Leafs' pipes include some of the game's most brilliant goalies.

In hockey, there is no other club as recognized and as widely admired as the Leafs. They are baseball's New York Yankees and the NFL's Dallas Cowboys -- a team that defines the sport, is an iconic ingredient in the culture and traditions of its city, and enjoys fan support well beyond their own market.

As the Toronto Maple Leafs approach their centennial season, historians, hockey analysts, and fans alike will examine this club's contribution to the game and the athletes who have given the fans so much to cheer for. In We Are Your Leafs, veteran sports writer Mike Ulmer, in partnership with the Toronto Maple Leafs, selects and profiles more than 80 of the greatest Leafs of all time. This unique and fully illustrated official publication recognizes the team's greatest captains, goalies, defencemen, enforcers, coaches, and more. The profiles -- of legends like Johnny Bower, snipers like Phil Kessel, and recent fan favorites such as Doug Gilmour -- are accompanied by entertaining stories, quotes, stats, and a wealth of Leafs memorabilia and photographs.


November 18, 2014

Top Nine Gordie Howe Books

Over the years Gordie Howe has been the subject of much hockey literature. In addition to re-writing the NHL record books "Mr. Hockey" has also contributed several books of his own, including hismost recent autobiography released in October 2014.

Mr. Hockey: My Story is Gordie's most recent and most complete autobiography. The publisher promised the most "complete account" of Gordie Howe's life, and they delivered.

The book goes back to Howe’s Depression-era upbringing, and follows him through his remarkable Hall of Fame career, and his enduring relationships with wife Colleen and his children.

Obviously with Gordie's recent serious health issues he has been unable to promote the book much, with the exception of this must-read 20 questions interview conducted by none other than Wayne Gretzky.

But let's take a look at some of the other book offerings out there about or by Gordie Howe:

This is a beautifully done coffee table book from 1999 featuring spectacular imagery provided by the Harold Barkley and Howe's personal collection. Gordie offers his own commentary throughout the book, with writer Frank Condon's help.

This 1995 book is another autobiography. It is very much co-written with his wife Colleen, which makes for an interesting angle. The Howe's make a point of talking much more about the scenes behind the on-ice glory and the lives they and their families have lived after the applause died away. It was an interesting collection of quotes from Gordie, Collen and all of the Howe children sharing what life was like with Mr. Hockey.

This is a 1967 offering by Stan Fischler. 

A year after Stan Fischler's release (1968), Jim Vipond released the biographical book Gordie Howe: Number 9. It seemed to receive better reviews than that of Fischler. Even today some old time fans will insist this was their favorite hockey book.

Roy MacSkimming's biography of Gordie Howe was the book I grew up with and remains as good a read today as it was back then. The Howe family refused to participate, as they did not like the author's portrayal of Ab Howe, Gordie's father. They steadfastly deny the author's accusations.

A Children's book from the fantastic series written by Mike Leonetti. A great way to introduce kids to who Gordie Howe is. 

From 1963, this small 91 page offering written by Gordie himself. It's an instructional booklet with black and white photos and drawings.

A beautiful coffee table book offering full of brilliant photography. Nine: A Salute to Mr. Hockey Gordie Howe captures what Howe has meant to a storied franchise, teammates, a legion of loyal fans and the entire hockey world


November 14, 2014

2014 Hockey Book Of The Year: Puckstruck by Stephen Smith

Puckstruck: Distracted, Delighted and Distressed by Canada's Hockey Obsession by Stephen Smith.
Buy The Book: - Chapters -

Usually when I write a book review I like to see what others around the internet are already saying about it. I like to get a feel for what the masses think, and what the critics think.

Funny thing is I can find very little reaction to Stephen Smith's first book, Puckstruck: Distracted, Delighted and Distressed by Canada's Hockey Obsession, and that is an absolute shame. Smith and Greystone Books have an instant classic here. It is such a good a book that I declare, without hesitation, that Puckstruck is the 2014 Hockey Book of the Year.

Smith chronicles his "wide-eyed and sometimes wincing wander through hockey's literature, language, and history. On this journey to discover what the game has to say about who we are as Canadians, he seeks to answer some essential riddles. Can hockey make you a better person? What exactly is the Swedes' problem? Where did the hook check go? Should those men really be permitted to keep punching each other in the head? If hockey is the best of us, is it also the worst? Is there hope?"

How can we not like a book about hockey books? Smith has read 100s of hockey books, collected tidbits from the best (I won't hold it against him that he seems to have never have read my three books - hey, no one else has either!) and put his findings together about our game, our country, and ourselves. It is compelling and thought-provoking and downright fantastic!

Don't believe me? Check out some of this incredible acclaim from some of hockey's best authors.

"This is a book after my heart: hockey and literature waltzing together to the music of the author's careful, artful prose. Funny, wistful, smart and unlike any hockey book I've read (although I clearly haven't read as many as Mr. Smith)." —Dave Bidini

"With a masterful lightness of touch, Stephen Smith takes us on a magical mystery tour of all the hockey books worth reading, revealing the Game's joys and darkness, its poetry and cruelty, its inescapable hold on our hearts.Puckstruck is a whirlwind read, as surprising and entertaining as the sport itself. Hockey fans will eat it up." —Roy MacSkimming, author of Gordie: A Hockey Legend and Cold War: the Amazing Canada-Soviet Hockey Series of 1972

"Puckstruck is irreverent, eclectic, irascible, witty, smart, and highly informed. It should be required reading for every 'hockey insider' analyst and bar-stool GM in ice country." —Roy MacGregor

Puckstruck is an excellent read. It is not your typical jock hockey book. It is exactly the type of hockey book we need more of.


November 13, 2014

Hero's Ho Ho Ho Hockey Dream

Kary Carkner (wife of New York Islanders player Matt Carkner) and Pam Helmer (wife of former NHL player Bryan Helmer) have teamed up with illustrator Steven Snider to produce the fantastic new hockey/Christmas children's book Hero's Ho Ho Ho Hockey Dream.

This book immediately comes alive with vibrant colours and drawings by Snider, but then is upped even more by the infectious energy from the two writers.

In the story our little Hero (that's actually his name!) plays a dream hockey match at the North Pole with Santa Claus and a bunch of elf hockey stars that not-so-suspiciously remind us of NHL stars (Daniel E-L-Fredsson - that's awesome!). Hero loves hockey, and he loves Christmas. But as amazing as his experience is, he realizes what is most important in life - his family. His Mom. His dad. And even his little sister.

It's a good read with an important lesson. It is the perfect story for your little hockey fan as Christmas nears.

And remember: Anyone can be a hero - go be a hero!


Calvin The Cookie Maker

Here's a fun story for the kids on your shopping list. It is a strong piece of juvenile fiction written by author Caroline Akervik. Hockey and Christmas both play big roles in this novel. It is a smart selection for those who are shopping for hockey-mad reluctant readers.

From the publisher: It’s December in Wisconsin and not quite Christmas, which means it’s already cold and snowy and all Calvin Greene can think about is Christmas. After watching a cooking show on TV, he is inspired to make a glittery Christmas Cookie book that he tries to share with his parents, but they’re too busy to pay attention. Adding to Calvin’s holiday blues, two of the best players on his hockey team want him to play with them in the Pond Hockey Tournament, but his best friends, Perry, who’s not a very good hockey player, wants Calvin to play with him, too. What should Calvin do? A snow storm is coming, so who knows if the Pond Hockey will even happen? Life is crazy and Christmas is around the corner. Will Calvin and his family and friends have time to take a breath and enjoy the holiday season?

For your further enjoyment, here's the book's YouTube trailer:

Calvin The Cookie Maker is published by Wee Creek Press.


November 8, 2014

My Granny Loves Hockey!

My Granny Loves Hockey

Buy The Book: - Chapters -

From The Publisher: Granny has always dreamed of playing hockey. As a child, she could only watch the boys play on the lake until her mom called her home to do more chores. Now, her granddaughter wheels her to the park, where Granny watches the kids play at the rink. One day, the doctor says Granny should take it easy, but she disagrees. So does her granddaughter. She knows that what Granny needs to perk her up is a chance to take a shot on net. With the help of the boys and girls on the ice, Granny finally fulfills her dream.


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