September 4, 2007

Hockey Books 2007 - A Sneak Peak

This week Raincoast Books sent me my first books to be reviewed of the season. Raincoast and Random House have both asked me to review their lines this season, and I hope to finalize other deals with publishers soon.

Raincoast sent me Chris Mizzoni's Clancy with the Puck, a poetic children's tale along the lines of the Ernest Thayer baseball/literary classic Casey at the Bat. I will have a full review of Mizzoni's book later. For now all I'll say is Raincoast never disappoints in the amount of effort and capital they invest in their products. This is an absolutely beautiful book.

Raincoast also sent Mike Leonetti's Maple Leafs A-Z. Again, this book will get a full review later, but my first impressions weren't quite as favorable as Mizzoni's work. The product quality is there as always with Raincoast, but some of the letter choices were far-reaching (E is for Ted Kennedy?). This book is curiously aimed at kids, none of whom have any idea who Johnny Bower, Busher Jackson or Snowshoes Stanley is.

That being said, Leonetti and Raincoast must be finding success with such projects, as previous historically tag-team titles include Gretzky's Game, A Hero Named Howe, Number Four, Bobby Orr!, The Greatest Goal, The Goalie Mask, and My Leafs Sweater.

I do believe it is no coincidence that this children's book comes out at the same time as a similar book by Leonetti and Raincoast - Maple Leafs Top 100. I haven't seen this book yet, but it does sound awfully similar to Leonetti's 2002 release Maple Leaf Legends: 75 Years of Toronto's Hockey Heroes. Hockey books 101, books on the Maple Leafs, no matter how repackaged, sell lots.

Being an avid hockey book enthusiast and collector, this package from Raincoast got me even more excited for what promises to be a bumper crop of hockey books for Christmas 2007. This is not yet a complete list, andI haven't seen most of these titles, but here's a sneak peak of what is coming to bookshelves in the coming weeks:

This one has me chomping at my bookmark. Ed Willes, Vancouver beat reporter extraordinaire and author of the WHA epicThe Rebel League is coming out with Gretzky to Lemieux: the Story of the 1987 Canada Cup. Those who know me know that the 1987 Canada Cup is my favorite moment in hockey, so much so that Patrick Houda and myself tried writing our own encyclopedic history of all the tournaments. It didn't have as much success as Willes undoubtedly will.

If you don't know who Bob McCown is, then brace yourself. McCown is the host/ringmaster of Toronto's/Canada's most popular sports radio talk show. He ranks among the best in radio in that he knows how to create a stir no matter which side of the argument he finds himself in. And he does so articulately and entertainingly. I be this first book Mccown's Law: the 100 Greatest Hockey Arguments will prove to be a huge hit.

Paul White and Altitude Publishing return looking to capitalize on the popularity of Coal Harbour, Nova Scotia's own Sidney Crosby with Hockey Stars of the Maritimes : Suiting up for Canada's Favourite Sport. It's only 8 bucks, so it should be a popular stocking stuffer on the East Coast this Christmas.

Gare Joyce penned one of last year's best releases with When the Lights Went Out: How One Brawl Ended Hockey's Cold War and Changed the Game. Well you can get the paperback this fall, but he also continues to cash in on the national craze of junior hockey with his new title Future Greats and Heartbreaks: a Season Undercover in the Secret World of NHL Scouts.

Speaking of behind the scenes looks, Ralph Mellanby recently retired after years at the helm of Hockey Night In Canada. He's used his extra time to pen Walking With Legends : The Real Stories of Hockey Night in Canada. I bet he called upon Dick Irvin more than a few times for this project.

The new regime at HNIC has been busy making on air changes and branching out on the internet, satellite radio, and now books. Scott Morrison writes for HNIC in the quick read about hockey jerseys Hockey Night in Canada : By the Numbers.

I don't think Cassie Campbell's entry is the autobiography I'd love to read of the Canadian women's star, but Some Things I've Learned : Lessons on Motivation, Passion, Excellence and More will offer some insight no doubt. More importantly, I hope this book inspires more girls to take up the game, which is no doubt Campbell's full intention.

Speaking of women's hockey, Lorna Schultz Nicholson looks at the very first women's world champions. Pink Power : The First Women's Hockey World Champions is about Team Canada 1991, who, to some note of controversy, wore pink Canada jerseys.

Paul Hollingsworth, with a foreword by Bob McKenzie, takes a look at 2006-07's highest paid hockey player Brad Richards. All of Prince Edward Island will buy this book.

It looks like more than one publisher decided to try and collect hockey catchphrases. Super writer Andrew Podnieks' The Complete Hockey Dictionary : The Language of the Game promises to be the best, but Paul Arsenault's Great Canadian Hockey Phrase Book is out there too. Keep your head up for the little guy. J. Alexander Poulton has a tiny publisher for his release How To Speak Hockey.

Speaking of Podnieks, he's coming out with World of Hockey : Celebrating a Century of the IIHF. Podnieks is incredibly thorough, and I know he had some of Europe's best hockey experts working on this project for him. I really hope this book is as good my all time favorite Podnieks release, 2002's Kings of the Ice: A History of World Hockey.

It's almost time to take a breather here. As mentioned yesterday on Legends of Hockey Network, The Hockey News has two titles coming out this fall: The Top 60 Since 1967: the Best Players of the Post-Expansion Era and Hockey's Young Guns: 25 Inside Stories on Making It to "the Show". As I understand it these aren't just glossy magazine specials, but full books.

Dave King is one autobiography I'd love to read. I guess we'll have to settle for a look inside one year of the life of the great hockey coach, as King and Eric Duhatschek look at King's season behind the bench of Metallurg Magnitogorsk in King of Russia.

Bruce Dowbiggin returns. With such thorough masterpieces as The Stick and Money Players already penned, his newest topic is Canada itself in The Meaning of Puck : How Hockey Explains Modern Canada. Curious by its release timing, it is not available until February 2008.

Of course, some of last years books will reappear as paperbacks. You may want to grab the lower priced versions of such titles as Searching for Bobby Orr (Oct. 30th), Power Of Two : Carl Brewer's Battle With Hockey's Power Brokers (Sept 14th), Brodeur: Beyond the Crease (Sept 14th), Between the Lines : Not-So-Tall Tales From Ray "Scampy" Scapinello's Four Decades in the NHL (Sept 30th) or the highly underrated Baptism By Ice


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