April 30, 2014

50 Canadians Who Changed The World by Ken McGoogan

Back in October 2013 Ken McGoogan came out with his new book 50 Canadians Who Changed The World. That's it - just 50! As you can imagine, arguments about who was included and more importantly who was not included began soon after, rocketing this book up the best-sellers lists.

This book isn't your standard list of greatest Canadians. Instead of the typical patriotic chest thumping this book looks at the 50 most important Canadians (they had to be born in the 20th century - thus explaining Lester B. Pearson's absence) from the viewpoint of people outside of Canada. Global reach was the defining factor.

People like Tommy Douglas, Pierre Trudeau, Romeo Dallaire, Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro, David Suzuki, Michael J. Fox and James Cameron.

Now any book about the top Canadians as seen by Canadians would include a few hockey personalities. So how does the author handle Canada's defining sport from a global perspective?

McGoogan includes three hockey personalities. Many Canadians might find that to be too small of a number but realistically the world's view on hockey, with the exception of a dozen countries or so, is pretty small, too.

Wayne Gretzky, of course, is included. (There is no numerical ranking of the honourees.) As the author points out, Gretzky transcended the sport in America and as a result has, in many ways, given the game to the world. He is the face of the game, and for many he is the face of Canada.

Jacques Plante is also included, for literally changing the face of the game by introducing the goalie mask.

Hailey Wickenheiser is also included along with deceased freestyle skier Sarah Burke, for their immense influence in advancing women's athletics worldwide.

Does any other hockey player deserve mention? While Rocket Richard's cultural impact in Quebec is unparalleled, his reach did not extend beyond Canadian borders. Bobby Orr, Bobby Hull, Gordie Howe, Jean Beliveau, Mario Lemieux - all amazing hockey players, but not one of which I think had any significant global reach, especially off the ice. The very few hockey players I can think of who deserve such consideration are immediately eliminated because they are not even Canadian - Borje Salming, Vladislav Tretiak and Slava Fetisov.

Realistically I think McGoogan is bang on in including only these three Canadian hockey players. I may even be willing to drop Plante off the list (but only if McGoogan drops Celine Dion. I mean, c'mon!).

Ken McGoogan 50 Canadians Who Changed The World should be required reading in Canada. He offers an interesting and entertaining history of Canada from a different angle. I do recommend checking out this book.


April 1, 2014

Sneak Peek at 2014 Hockey Book Releases

The other day we talked about Gordie Howe's new autobiography being released later in 2014. Which got us thinking - what other hockey books can we expect in 2014? There's a number of interesting titles forthcoming:

New Don Cherry Autobiography

Straight Up and Personal: The World According to Grapes - Known for his opinions--and unabashed expression of them--Don Cherry has been causing debate for decades. Topics on "Coach's Corner" sometimes veer away from sports and on to other matters that are near and dear to Cherry's heart: the war in Afghanistan and politics, among many others. In Straight Up and Personal, Cherry shares his thoughts on a broader range of issues than he ever has before. He shares some of his personal experiences on and off the ice, and offers the lessons he's learned along the way. This is Don Cherry: straight up and personal.

Hockey's Ultimate Insider

Hockey Confidential: Inside Stories from People Inside the Game - Over 500,000 hockey fans follow Bob McKenzie on Twitter and millions more on TSN—no one has the access or breadth and depth of experience when it comes to the hockey. Now in his very first book on the NHL, Bob goes behind the scenes, covering the inside stories, the lesser-known personalities and the events that shape Canada’s game. He talks to Bobby Orr about Connor McDavid (touted as “the next Crosby”), reveals the actual stats that NHL coaches and scouts use, and explores what it’s like to be Don Cherry’s son. Entertaining, insightful and a damn good read, Hockey Confidential is a must for every hockey fan.

Lots and lots of Leafs (of course)

We Are Your Leafs: The Toronto Maple Leafs Book of Greats 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. By Michael Ulmer

Leafs '65: The Lost Toronto Maple Leafs Photographs - From celebrated author and sports journalist Stephen Brunt comes a beautifully illustrated, elegiac tribute to the Toronto Maple Leafs of yesteryear. Acclaimed writer Stephen Brunt's essay on the '65 training camp -- based on interviews with team members -- Leafs '65 is the ultimate tribute to the Stanley Cup-winning Toronto Maple Leafs, to a forgotten era of hockey, and to a moment in Canadian history that will resonate with any reader.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Their Defining Moments -This book shares over 100 Maple Leaf moments that defined, started, or rejuvenated a career. This up-to-date volume of work tells the story behind each amazing player and is packed full of Hall of Famers and other great stars of the past and present.

Written in Blue and White - The Toronto Maple Leafs Contracts and Historical Documents from the Collection of Allan Stitt

Another Gretzky Book

Facing Wayne Gretzky: Players Recall the Greatest Hockey Player Who Ever Lived - Far from a conventional biography, Facing Wayne Gretzky offers perspectives and testimonials from opponents and teammates alike, including Denis Potvin, Kelly Hrudey, Rob Blake, and many more. Never has another hockey player achieved what “The Great One” did on the ice, and it is unlikely that one will soon. This book details what it’s like to face the best player who ever skated, illuminating his passing ability, his deceptively effective shot, and his inventiveness both with the puck and without.

Rethinking 1972

Coming Down the Mountain: Rethinking the 1972 Summit Series - A comprehensive look at the 1972 Canada-USSR Hockey series and the way that Canadian mythology has been built around it, including essays on topics such as the impact of the summit series on the development of women's hockey, an analysis of media perspectives from the series and how the summit series helped to form Canada's identity abroad. This collection will be written in accessible prose, allowing it to read and enjoyed by a devotee of the game who is not an academic.

Here's a few upcoming releases that have very little information about them other than titles and, in some cases, cover images:

Hockey Card Stories: True Stories from the Players on Your Favourites
Changing the Game: A History of NHL Expansion
It's Our Game by Michael McKinley
Bench Bosses: The NHL's Coaching Elite
50 Greatest Redwings
Boy on Ice: The Life and Death of Derek Boogaard
The Great Defender: From the Canadiens to Coaching and Everything In-between - My Total NHL Experience by Kevin Shea


New Gordie Howe Autobiography Coming

G.P. Putnam's Sons, a division of Penguin, has announced that Gordie Howe will release a new autobiography in October of 2014. The book will be called Mr Hockey - Gordie Howe: My Story .

"It is a pleasure to tell my story with this book, and especially to include the people who have meant so much to me along the way.” Howe said about Mr. Hockey, in a statement. "No accomplishment is about just one person – no championship, no statistic, and certainly not a whole career."

While there have been a number of previous books about Gordie Howe, including a few authorized by himself, Putnam promises this new book will "the definitive account" on the career of the hockey legend.

Putnam released Bobby Orr's autobiography in 2013.


March 3, 2014

Five: A Salute To Nicklas Lidstrom

Part of the celebrations this week as the Detroit Red Wings honour Nicklas Lidstrom by retiring his number is the unveiling of the limited edition book Five: A Salute to Nicklas Lidstrom.

The book will be available on March 6, 2014. Only 15,000 copies are being printed.

The Detroit Red Wings have produced similar books for Gordie Howe and Ted Lindsay. They are heavy on beautiful photography and solid commentary.

At this time I'm not even sure how to get copies. They are not listed for sale on Amazon or Chapters and I do not see it at DetroitRedWings.com at this time.

But I can tell you how to buy the limited release of Nicklas Lidstrom commemorative cereal: Detroit Red Wings Hockey Heroes Lidstrom Limited Edition Collector's Box Honey Nut Toasted Oats


February 5, 2014

Tie Domi To Publish Autobiography

News out of Toronto:

Former Toronto Maple Leafs enforcer Tie Domi is stickhandling another off-ice role: author.

Simon & Schuster Canada announced on Tuesday that it will publish Domi’s forthcoming memoir. The ex-NHLer will co-write the book with sports reporter Jim Lang.

The as-yet-untitled memoir is due for release in the fall of 2015.

Here's the full story.

The Domi memoir should be a good read. The personable Domi strikes me as an interesting fellow from my very distant vantage point. On the ice I've always had a great deal of respect for Tie Domi (the whole Scott Niedermayer incident aside) as he was usually the smallest dog in the fight but more often than not he was the winner. Off the ice he has had some interesting twists, whether it be stints in soccer and football or dating billionaire Belinda Stronach.


January 20, 2014

The Story Behind The Hockey Sweater

It is arguable that the greatest book ever written by a Canadian is a children's book. Roch Carrier's The Hockey Sweater needs no introduction in Canada. But Carrier recently revealed some fascinating insight into the story behind the story.

"I got this invitation from the CBC to write something about the question that everybody was asking in Canada - What does Quebec want?" He started working on the text but it was not coming together.

"And I phoned back on Friday to tell CBC that I could not do it. They said they had a time slot booked for Monday so 'Write whatever you want and it will be OK.' "Suddenly I got an idea ... to write about some experience when I was kid about hockey. No philosophy, not thinking about hockey as a religion, just write the thing as it was. "It was written very quickly. It was translated into English by Sheila Fischman, who did an incredible job.

"By Sunday afternoon, we were sitting in the CBC studio in Montreal recording. Sheila was in front of me and she was my tutor in English. There were some words that were hard for me to pronounce in English like M-O-T-H-S."

Here's the full article.

For those not familiar with The Hockey Sweater, be sure to watch this:


January 12, 2014

Interview With Gary Mossman, Author of Lloyd Percival: Coach And Visionary

Recently we discussed Gary Mossman's new book - Lloyd Percival: Coach and Visionary. In many ways it is a book about the most important hockey book ever written. Here is the full book review for further information. Buy the Book: Amazon.caChapters - Amazon.com

Below is the transcript of an email interview I did with Mr. Mossman about his new book.

Question -  What made you decide to write a book about Lloyd Percival?

Answer -   Throughout his life, Lloyd Percival helped numerous Olympians, never charging them any money for his time and expertise. He spent the summer of 1952 training the Canadian Olympic canoeing team. The result was a silver medal for Ken Lane and Don Hawgood in the 10,000 meter Canadian Singles - one of only three medals won by Canadians in Helsinki - and later, a close relationship with my father, Jim Mossman, who coached the Canadian Olympic canoeing team throughout the 1960’s and was Technical Director of the Canadian Canoe Association from 1972-1976. Many years later, my father and I were having lunch and he was recalling some of the remarkable stories about Lloyd. A little research revealed that nothing substantial had been written about Percival since he died in 1974 and I decided to rectify the situation.

Question -   Would you say The Hockey Handbook was the most important book in hockey history?
Answer -    I think it would be fair to say that “The Hockey Handbook” (1951) is the most important book in hockey history. It stood alone for thirty years and some experts say it is still the most complete hockey instruction book ever written. NHL coaches tried to ignore it; however, for minor hockey coaches and college coaches in Canada and the United States it was  essential reading. The first real instruction book for hockey was Percival’s, “How to Play Better Hockey”, published in 1946. It holds a special place in hockey history because Anatoly Tarasov  was probably given a copy in 1951. It was the first hockey instruction book he read and the basic philosophy and style of Russian hockey were derived from it. “The Hockey Handbook”; however, was much bigger and more detailed. We know that Tarasov shipped 500 copies from New York in 1955 and that it was translated into Russian. The book was also the primary source for hockey instruction in Sweden, Finland and Czechoslovakia.  When Russian and European hockey players, as well as American college players, began impacting on the training of Canadian hockey players and the style of play in the NHL, it was a style of hockey, derived from the pages of  ”The Hockey Handbook” that paved the way for the “New NHL”. 
Question -  While Europeans, especially the Russians, loved the book, Canadians dismissed it and mocked it. Why?

Answer -   Canadian hockey is built on tradition and has never easily accepted change. Until recent decades it was a blue collar sport. Hockey players did not go to college, or university and coaches were retired, ex-players (professional hockey, like baseball, lagged behind football and basketball for this reason). Although he was self-educated, Percival was perceived as a “college guy”, an outsider, and Canadian professional hockey people did not want to listen to him. According to them, there was no need, because Canada produced the best hockey players in the world and the NHL was far and away the best hockey league in the world. It was not until the Summit Series of 1972 that Canadians began to question their dominance of world hockey and it was another dozen years before real change began. Sadly, Percival died in 1974 and received only scant recognition for his knowledge and his prescience.

Question  -   Lloyd Percival died in 1974. Did he ever realize how big of an impact his book had on Russian hockey? Did Anatoli Tarasov ever get a chance to further talk with Percival?
Answer -  Yes. On at least two occasions, Tarasov visited Percival at his health and fitness centre in Toronto, The Fitness Institute. While Tarasov was reluctant to admit to Russians that there were any foreign influences in the evolution of Russian hockey. He was free with praise for Percival when they were together, as well as when he spoke with American hockey experts, such as Lou Vairo. On one of his visits (in 1969), Tarasov gave Percival a copy of his book “Russian Hockey Secrets: Road to Olympus,” with the inscription:
“Respectfully to Lloyd, Your wonderful book which introduced us to the mysteries of Canadian Hockey, I have read like a schoolboy. Thank you for a hockey science which is significant to the hockey world.”
The performance of the Russians  at the Summit Series of 1972 was a complete surprise to almost every Canadian, except for Lloyd Percival, who not only warned us about how good the Russians would be, but offered Team Canada advice on how to counteract the Russian strengths, advice which was rejected by the Canadian coaches. Percival was naturally proud to see his hockey theories played to perfection by the Russians, but he was a loyal Canadian and was saddened to see Team Canada struggle. He said at the time “it didn’t have had to be that way.”
Question - The book was reproduced and updated over the years. Does it remain pertinent in today's day and age?

Answer     Percival published a second edition of “The Hockey Handbook” in 1959; however, the changes were insignificant. When he died in 1974, Percival was working on a significant overhaul of the book which would have taken into account the contribution of Tarasov and the evolution of hockey in Europe. In the 1990’s, Larry Sadler led an initiative to update the book. The authors “were surprised at how much detailed, technical information was in the book” and decided to change very little. The revised edition is still in print and it would be very difficult to name a better hockey instruction book than this.

Question -  Percival was interested in improving athletic performance in many sports. What famous athletes did he work with?

Answer -  Many NHL coaches forbade their players from working with Percival, although some players ignored their coaches and the Detroit Red Wing (1951-1955 and 1972-1973) and the Minnesota North Stars (1967-1969) hired Percival to work with their teams. Of the NHL players, Gordie Howe and Terry Sawchuk were Percival’s finest students, with Sawchuk in particular owing some of his Hall of Fame stats to Percival’s stretching program, co-ordination drills and diet.

Outside of the NHL, athletes who benefitted from Percival’s scientific understanding of sport training included Olympic medalists Lane and Hawgood, Roger Jackson (rowing, gold 1964), John Wood (canoeing, silver 1976) and Toller Cranston ( figure skating, bronze 1976), as well as boxer, George Chuvalo; golfers, George Knudson and Al Balding; cyclist, Jocelyn Lovell; divers Beverly Boys and Nancy Robertson; figure skaters, Sandra and Val Bezic; tennis player, Peter Burwash; football players Dave Raimey and Jim Corrigal, water-ski world champion, George Athans jr.; fastball pitcher, Bob Domik and skiers, Judy Crawford and Jungle Jim Hunter. 

Buy the Book: Amazon.ca - Chapters - Amazon.com

Also, if you are in Toronto on January 23rd, 2014, be sure to head down to Toronto Public Library to listen to Gary Mossman read from Lloyd Percival: Coach and Visionary.


Warriors On The Ice: Hockey's Toughest Talk

Want to write a hockey book? One tried and true hockey publishing route is to interview hockey tough guys. We've seen quite a few over the years, and undoubtedly will see quite a few more.

New author Brian D'Ambrosio offers the latest such book. It's called Warriors On the Ice: Hockey's Toughest Talk. At this time it available only as Kindle e-book, though there may be a print deal in works for the future.

I have yet to read the book yet so I can not comment on the content. It is extensive at over 250 pages. And the list of players interviewed is impressive:

1) Jim Agnew
2) Paul Baxter
3) Ken Belanger 
4) Riley Cote
5) Craig Coxe
6) Gordie Dwyer
7) Mike Hartman
8) Tim Hunter
9) Jamie Huscroft
10) Kevin Kaminski
11) Ed Kastelic
12) Darin Kimble
13) Paul Kruse
14) Reed Low
15) Kevin McClelland
16) Jeff Odgers
17) Jim Peplinski
18) Cam Russell
19) Reid Simpson
20) Daryl Stanley
21) Jason Strudwick
22) Chris Tamer
23) Rocky Thompson
24) Ryan VandenBussche
25) Jay Wells
26) Brendan Witt
27) Richard Zemlak
28) Doug Zmolek
29) Glen Cochrane
30) Tony Twist


January 9, 2014

New Book Celebrates One Of Hockey's Most Important Books

A lot of people know that Anatoli Tarasov is considered to be the great architect of the Soviet hockey empire.

But even Tarasov had to learn from someone. That someone was a Canadian coach and author named Lloyd Percival.

Percival was Canada's leading expert on fitness through out the mid 20th century. Although he was best known for coaching track and field, he would often make forays into other sports in order to help those athletes attain greatness, too.

In 1951 Percival attempted to make a big splash in hockey when he published The Hockey Handbook. Percival was years, even decades, ahead of his time here in Canada. 

His book featured the oddest things Canadian hockey coaches and players had ever heard of. Breathing control? Gymnastics? Goal setting? No way, we scoffed. Goal scoring is what we practice!

Hall of Fame coach Dick Irvin (no, not the television broadcaster, that is his son) blasted Percival's notions. It was "the product of a three year old," he unceremoniously snorted. 

While the NHL was quick to dismiss The Hockey Handbook, Europeans were quick to adore it. It is not a coincidence that European hockey exploded and caught up to Canadian hockey only a generation or so after the publishing of this book.

One person who especially appreciated the book was Tarasov. He called it "the bible." 

"Your wonderful book, which introduced us to the mysteries of Canadian hockey, I have read like a schoolboy," Tarasov once said.

Tarasov of course added his own quirks and innovations, but Percival's book was the basis of the greatest hockey program ever created.

Nowadays every NHL player and aspiring young player follows The Hockey Handbook's principles even though they likely have never actually read the book. The techniques in the book, which have been republished and updated regularly, are now common place in hockey culture in Canada, and especially in the NHL.

Fast forward to today and I will introduce you to a new author named Gary Mossman. Mr. Mossman, with the help of Seraphim Editions, has penned a new book that looks at the impact of Percival and his Hockey Handbook. The new book is called Lloyd Percival: Coach and Visionary .

Here's the promotional blurb:
They called him 'Coach', but Lloyd Percival was much more. 
He introduced modern track and field to Canada, produced a blueprint for radically changing the way hockey was played, built the world's first modern fitness club, inspired and contributed to government policy on sport, and was instrumental in the success of Canada's best amateur and professional athletes. 
However, he was a radical, an iconoclast, and a thorn in the side of the authorities in amateur and professional sports for almost four decades. Percival has been compared to Marshall McLuhan for his willingness "to look at things people took for granted". 
Respected around the world, Percival's controversial prescriptions for change made "the stepfather of Russian hockey" a "prophet without honour" in his homeland. 
The story of Lloyd Percival is the story of sport and fitness in Canada during an era of profound change, a story of the man most responsible for those changes and of his enduring legacy.
So as we celebrate Russian hockey history as the 2014 Sochi Olympics begin, lets be sure to celebrate the Canadian author who, unknowingly, gave Russian hockey history it's greatest assist. And be sure to check out Mossman's new book which explores the famous hockey book but also the man and his everlasting impact on the sporting world.

Buy the Book: Amazon.ca - Chapters - Amazon.com


December 22, 2013

The Winter Classic by Russ Cohen and Michael del Tufo

The holiday season is upon us. For many hockey fans that now includes the highlight of the regular season in the annual Winter Classic outdoor game. This year Detroit hosts Toronto at The Big House at the University of Michigan. With an expected 106,000-plus fans in attendance, this game will dwarf all other Winter Classics of the past.

Speaking of Winter Classics of the past - that is the focus of Russ Cohen and Michael del Tufo's new book The Winter Classic.

Buy The Book - Amazon.ca - Chapters - Amazon.com

The NHL debuted the Winter Classic in 2008 in at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo to a crowd of 71,217, which still stands as the biggest crowd in NHL history. Subsequent Winter Classics were played at Chicago’s Wrigley Field (40,818), Boston’s Fenway Park (38,112), Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field (68,111) and Citizen’s Bank Park in Philadelphia (46,967).

The Winter Classic has been the one event that has transcended the American sports scene as a true hockey event. In many ways it is the most important game on the calendar.

Back in 2008 they probably never dreamed it would grow to be such a spectacle.

“We weren’t sure if we could sell 73,000 tickets at a football stadium,” said  NHL Chief Operating Officer John Collins. “Then we sold out in 20 minutes.” And despite wet and snowy weather, no one left. And it was television hit.

Six years later, the Winter Classic continues to thrive, with festivals and sold-out alumni games now part of the experience. HBO's "24/7" documentary specials are fan favorites and the souvenir sales are through the roof.

Cohen and del Tufo look to recount all the great moments in their book, The Winter Classic. They also offer a behind the scenes look at each game. The authors offer a look at each venue and discuss why they were chosen. Player interviews about the venues and the games are plentiful. And of course the actual game is covered nicely.

If you are a fan of the Winter Classic, or if you are new to the hockey spectacle, you will want to check out The Winter Classic by Russ Cohen and Michael del Tufo.

Buy The Book - Amazon.ca - Chapters - Amazon.com


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