September 7, 2017

The Most Anticipated New Hockey Book Of The Season

As hockey books begin hitting store shelves, a common question I've been getting is this:

Which new hockey book are you looking forward to the most?

The answer is unequivocally Game Change: The Life and Death of Steve Montador and the Future of Hockey by Ken Dryden

Earlier this year I wondered what Dryden, hockey's most interesting man, was up to. Then came word of this ever so promising title.

The former Hall of Fame goaltender - recently named as one of the top 100 NHL players of all time - turned author/educator/Toronto Maple Leafs executive/politician has not been heard from a lot since losing his seat and federal cabinet position in 2011. He has been teaching a Canadian Studies course at McGill University in Montreal since.

But he has also been working on the new book about Montador, concussions and the future of hockey.

Dryden, of course, is noted author. He is most famous for his 1983 book The Game, which was both a commercial and especially a critical success. He also wrote Home Game and Faceoff at the Summit, as well as three non-hockey related books.

I have yet to see anything on Game Change, but this could be his most important text to date.

Obviously concussions in hockey are a big deal, and the pending lawsuit by former players threatens to change the way the game is played forever. The thing the powers that be in the hockey world need to realize is if they are not careful the lawmakers will change things instead of the hockey people.

So the hockey people need to be proactive, and Dryden looks like he will lead the way his blue print.

Equipment changes are always possible. Penalties for any direct head shot are to be enforced and strict. The elimination of fighting. These are all likely in the book.

But the ultimate game change will be in the mindset we use to approach physical play. Ultimately that may take a generation or two to achieve.

I do hope that Dryden comments on how to change bodychecking. Before the 1970s bodychecking was always condoned as long as the defending player was attempting to retrieve the puck on the play. Too often since the 1970s bodychecking is used to physically intimidate while removing the player from the puck, but leaving the puck for others to retrieve. Bodychecking should be enforced where the impeding player is still trying to get the puck while making physical contact.

This would allow for a cleaner hockey game to be played, though I do not know if it would have any result on the concussion problem itself. Presumably it would, but people far smarter than I would be able to decipher that.


September 4, 2017

Book Review: Texas On Ice

Dallas Stars are leading the league as a first class organization in many ways off the ice.

One small example - they are bucking the trend on paperless season tickets. Instead, they pamper their season ticket holders with a box of gifts as well as the traditional tickets.

One of the gifts to surprise their clients this year is the new book Texas On Ice: Pro Strides To The Stars.

The book looks at the history of professional hockey in Texas from 1942 through to 1993 when the Dallas Stars arrived. They thoroughly have it all from the Houston Apollos to the Amarillo Wrangers to the Fort Worth Texans to Gordie Howe's Houston Aeros.

The book is beautifully laid out with amazing action photography, both in color and in black and white. The text compliments the photos nicely with text that recaptures the characters, the rivalries and the Texan hockey heroes of yesterday. A statistical package completes the book perfectly.

The book is a group effort funded by the Dallas Stars, though hockey book fans will recognize the executive director of the project: Jason Farris.

Mr. Farris was a rising hockey author who was funding personal projects that put big publishing houses to absolute shame. Then he disappeared. Sort of. He moved to Dallas in 2012 and became the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the NHL Stars.

I should have been nicer to him when he was just a "nobody" in Vancouver, eh?

How does a hockey book author become EVP and COO of a NHL team? Well in his spare time he graduated from MIT's Sloan School of Management. That was after earning Political Science and Physics degrees here in Canada.

The dude is legit. The Dallas Stars - and the entire NHL - is better off for it.

Where does he find time to produce such a high quality hockey book like Texas On Ice? 

"You can accomplish a lot between the hours of midnight and 4am," he told me. I believe it!

This is actually the second book in the Texas On Ice series. Last year season ticket holders received the book Texas On Ice: Early Strides To Pro Hockey and the 1941-42 American Hockey Association Season.

The audience for this book is a lot more limited. Not a lot of people remember hockey in 1941-42, let alone the AHA which featured the Dallas Texans and the Fort Worth Rangers.

But every hockey fan should see this book, and then demand their favorite teams have such a wonderful remembrance of some significant events of the past. 

Farris' team bring back all the action and the memories exactly as they played out back then - through the clippings of the newspaper. It's such a unique presentation, where basically the past is brought back to life. I seriously love this book!

Relax, you do not have to buy Dallas Stars season tickets in order to get your hands on these books (though if you do after reading this blog, I hope Mr. Farris gives me a jersey or something). You can buy these books at the Dallas Stars team store or online at


August 31, 2017

2017 Hockey Book Previews

Let's take a sneak peak at some of the 2017 hockey books that are hitting store shelves in the next few weeks:

And that's not even all of the hockey books!


May 22, 2015 Back In Business!

Good news! The popular is returning effective September 2017!

Stay tuned for exciting news about the upcoming hockey book season as well as previews and reviews of many books.

If you are an author or publisher who would like to see your work promoted at, email me at about how to send me your materials!

I would like to thank the authors, the publishers, the publicists, the booksellers and most importantly the readers. These are challenging times for authors and publishers, but great hockey books continue appear on bookstore shelves and e-readers.

Let's make this a great community for all hockey book enthusiasts.


April 28, 2015

Reality Check: Travels in the Australian Hockey League by Will Brodie

From the author:Yes, there is ice hockey in Australia. There’s a fragile but thriving national league and my book Reality Check: Travels in the Australian Ice Hockey League chronicles a year in the AIHL, where dedicated locals and adventurous internationals train and play like professionals, but no-one gets paid.

I spent a year visiting the quirky outposts of this unique hockey backwater, making three trips each with arch-rivals Melbourne Mustangs and Melbourne Ice.

Australian ice hockey is intense but informal, exhilarating but irreverent. It thrives on grassroots improvisation yet utilises social media savvy to expand its national audience. In 2014, the passion of this community saw a disbanded team reborn in a week and delivered a dramatic finals series followed like never before.


April 11, 2015

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


January 27, 2015

He Shoots, He Saves by Jon Waldman

He Shoots, He Saves by Jon Waldman.
Buy The Book - - Chapters -

From the publisher: Whether it’s a ticket stub from a game that father and son saw together, an autographed photograph from a hero, or a puck that went up and over the boards, hockey memorabilia is a record of our beloved sport’s history.

He Shoots, He Saves looks at hockey’s collectibles from hockey cards to commemorative beer cans to postage stamps. The book features artifacts from all 30 NHL teams, the greatest players of all-time, the WHA, the international game including the Summit Series, and the women’s game. Hockey greats such as Martin Brodeur, Frank Mahovlich, Ted Lindsay, and Sidney Crosby recall their own days collecting and offer their perspectives on memorabilia.

Joe's Take: This is an interesting book in that while it is very much about hockey collectibles, it is also a very neat introduction to the history of hockey.

The book's first 70 pages or so look exclusively a hockey collectibles throughout the years, touching on the obvious like hockey cards, books, magazines, pucks, pocket schedules (I never really understood that fetish) and arena artifacts but also looking at some of the more oddball collectibles like bottle caps, stamps, cereal boxes, and, of course, bobbleheads.

In the next 300 pages the author gives us brief run-downs on each franchise (plus some defunct teams), key players and key moments in the game's great past. Waldman tries to tie memorabilia into the conversation, though at times it strays away from that. Never fear, the text is laced with dozens of photos of neat collectibles that make this book as fun to flip through as it is to read from cover to cover.

Take a look at this book. Collectors will love it and any hockey fan can learn some hockey history in these pages.


January 26, 2015

2015 Hockey Books: Who Is Wayne Gretzky?

Who Is Wayne Gretzky?
Buy The Book: - Chapters -

The latest in the successful Who is ... ? (or Who was ... ?) series is Who Is Wayne Gretzky? The elementary children series looks at famous people - past and present - and tells their story. Gail Herman and Nancy Harrison write Gretzky's story, hitting all the major talking points nicely but without including unnecessarily too much. It's just a perfect fit. Ted Hammond provides the series' trademark illustrations

As a kid I would have loved such biographies. The series includes Who Were the Wright Brothers?Who Was Isaac Newton? and Who Was Jackie Robinson? This is a fantastic series that should be in elementary school libraries and classrooms, but in parents' homes. I know I will be getting a few for my nephews over the next few eyars.


January 24, 2015

Black Ice: The Val James Story

This is the cover image of Black ice, a new autobiography by former NHLer Val James.

Black Ice: The Val James Story
Buy The Book - - Chapters -

 Who is Val James? He is an almost entirely forgotten about hockey player from the past. But hey, I don't blame you for that. He played only 11 NHL games (plus 3 more in the playoffs) in his career and there are 1000s of guys like that who equally as memorable than him.

So why has Val James his autobiography and, more importantly, why should you read it?

First off, a bit more about the book. From the back cover, "Val James became the first African American player in the NHL when he took to the ice with the Buffalo Sabres in 1982, and in 1987 he became the first black player of any nationality to skate for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Born in central Florida, James grew up on Long Island and received his first pair of skates for his 13th birthday. At 16, James left home to play in Canada, where he was the only black person in junior and, often, in the whole town. While popular for his tough play and winning personality, the teenager faced racist taunts at opposing arenas, and the prejudice continued at all levels of the game. In his two NHL stints, James defined himself as a smart team player and opponent, known for his pugilistic skills.

Black Ice is the untold story of a trail-blazing athlete who endured and overcame discrimination to realize his dreams and become an inspiration for future generations."

That doesn't do nearly as good a job of catching your attention as in the inside flap:

"His teammates looked away, pretending not to notice that feared hockey enforcer Valmore James was crying . . . Less than one hour earlier, Val and the Buffalo Sabres had finished playing a fierce road contest against the Bruins at hockey's hallowed Boston Garden.

The years of dreaming and hard work and fighting - especially the fighting - had all brough him to this point. The moment he took to the ice, on a spring evening in 1982, he had become part of a tiny fraternity of American players who made it to the pinnacle of Canada's national pastime. Much more than that, Val James had become the first black American to ever play in the NHL. There had been no ceremony, no public address announcement. But Val knew. And if his dad were still alive, he would have known, too. Still, the tears were not born of the joy of finally making it to the show. Nor were they from the pride of being the first African American to do so. The tears that slipped past his scarred fists were tears of shame. And rage."

Now that is more like it. It immediately draws us in, capturing our attention with an intriguing story, as well as the promise of well written text (John Gallagher writes with James).

Unfortunately it turns out that James was crying because some classless Boston Bruins fans were blocking the Sabres team uttering racial slurs, while his teammates stayed silent.

No, Val James hockey story is not your typical story.  Here's more from Gallagher, as told to a recent SIHR audience:

"Val was the son of migrant farm workers from the Deep South who moved to Long Island during the JFK years to work on the farms that then filled large swaths of Long Island. Val was introduced to ice hockey at the late age of 13 when his father was hired as a night watchman at the Long Island Arena, home rink of John Brophy and the Long Island Ducks of the old Eastern Hockey League. From these humble roots, Val worked his way up through the lowest minor leagues to a place in hockey history as the first American-born black player to skate in the NHL as a member of Scotty Bowman's Buffalo Sabres. He would also become the first black player of any nationality to play for the Maple Leafs in the hockey mecca of Toronto. Val is remembered as a legendary enforcer and beloved teammate but the untold story of the abuse he had to endure and overcome on the way to his impossible dream is shocking and inspiring."

The book ends with a chapter called "As others recall it" where nothing by quotes by former players, coaches and team officials tell some of the James story. Those voices include Scotty Bowman, Mike Keenan, John Brophy, Paul Stewart, Ted Nolan and Nick Fotiu. It is an interesting, honest read.


January 18, 2015

Chill Factor: How a Minor League Hockey Team Changed A City Forever

The hockey world will set its eyes on Columbus, Ohio next weekend as the National Hockey League mid-season All Star Weekend visits the city.

It is the first time that All Star Weekend will be held in Columbus. That's not really a surprise. The Columbus Blue Jackets have only been in the NHL for 15 years now. For the most part the Blue Jackets have had little impact in the hockey world. There was the expected expansion growing pains followed by a few years of irrelevance, at least outside of Ohio. They made great strides in 2013-14 with strong performances from Ryan Johansen and Sergei Bobrovsky, but have regressed this season thanks in large part to injuries.

Through it all the hockey fans in Columbus have been loyal and supportive. It is proving to be a good hockey market, which has surprised many of us. We wondered about corporate support and lack of a hockey history in a city that loved it's college sports, especially football, which ultimately is a commentary on our ignorance more so than the market place perhaps.

Columbus has had professional hockey since 1966. The International Hockey League hosted three different variations of Columbus hockey. First it was the Checkers, then the Golden Seals, and then the Owls. But by 1977 pro-hockey (and it was pretty low level of minor league hockey back then) had exited Columbus for a decade and a half.

Pretty unimpressive stuff, so far.

In 1991 the ECHL welcomed the Columbus Chill, and the hockey landscape changed forever in Columbus.

Chill Factor: How A Minor League Hockey Team Changed A City Forever is a new book that examines how this minor league hockey team changed a city forever, and paved the way for the National Hockey League's arrival by the turn of the century. It is written by long time Columbus sports writer Craig Merz along with former Chill president and general manager David Paitson.

Paitson was the man very much responsible for much of the success. He was the marketing genius who used edgy and innovative campaigns that attracted the attention of the town. It was refreshing and an authentic, and at times controversial. But this Ohio State University mad town were very receptive to their aggressive tactics (one reporter called going to the hockey game was like "the world's ;arg and, against long odds, really supported their upstart minor league hockey team. The rink was filled, including one stretch of 83 consecutive sell-outs.

Chill Factor is a fun story of off-the-wall marketing and keen vision turning a college sports town into a a major league NHL city. And with that Columbus' sleepy downtown was transformed thanks to the billions of dollars of development created by the new downtown arena. And with that, the city's status was changed in the eyes of outsiders.

It is told through the words of the man responsible for setting that vision, sports executive David Paitson.

Buy The Book - - Chapters -


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