July 19, 2008

The Montreal Maroons by William Brown

William Brown easily captures my admiration as one of the most thorough writers and researchers in the hockey book market. He goes to painstaking lengths to find every last detail. That meticulous work is impressive his writing could serve as a university text book, it is an excellent read for those interested in his subject. For passive or younger fans, this book may be a bit of a hard read though, as it packed with details of an era long gone.

The title of the book I'm reviewing today immediately appears to limit those interested in his subject. The book is titled The Montreal Maroons: The Forgotten Stanley Cup Champions, but in reality this is a book about early hockey history in Montreal, specifically the early pro history and early NHL history. It is a fascinating time period piece from say 1910 through the arrival of Rocket Richard in the 1940s. It is not so much about a forgotten hockey team, but about a forgotten and intense and historically important rivalry.

| Buy at: - Amazon - Chapters |

For 14 glorious seasons, NHL hockey's greatest rivalry was between two teams in the same city. Their fierce but short battle shaped hockey history forever.

Many people consider Montreal to be the greatest hockey city in the world, and I would certainly never argue against that. There is no more revered team in hockey history than the Montreal Candiens. The Flying Frenchmen are the most storied team in hockey history.

But back before there was a NHL and during the NHL's first couple of decades, the city of Montreal was divided. Les Canadiens were the champions of the French. But anglophone hockey dated back much further. Over the years English speaking Montreal was represented by several teams, most notably MAAA Winged Wheelers, the Victorias, the Shamrocks, McGill University and the Wanderers, all predecessors of the Montreal Maroons.

As the NHL formed and emerged as kings of the professional hockey scene, the Maroons and Canadiens battled to epic heights. Their battles were so fierce that oldtimers reminisce about the "classics of hockey hate" and the "searing hatred that split the city's hockey populace in two." Their rivalry also helped shape the NHL and the evolution of hockey right across Canada.

The book opens by retracing this English hockey history in the city, with brief looks at each of the aforementioned English teams, and follows up by looking at the French history, which basically looks at the earliest history of the Montreal Canadiens.

All of this history is necessary for the reader to understand the deep rooted history of the English - French rivalry. Hockey certainly did not create Quebec's cultural tensions, but it was a main vehicle for it in Montreal during this time.

Finally we get to the Maroons. The Maroons were the most successful English team in Montreal, and the original tenants of the famed Montreal Forum. Twice they won the Stanley Cup. The team featured many of hockey's all time greats - Clint Benedict, Lionel Conacher and the S Line - Nels Stewart, Babe Siebert and Hooley Smith. Brown focuses on these key figures and the Maroons involvement in several key NHL moments in history.

The book goes on to ride the highs and lows of the Montreal Maroons existence, mostly in comparison to the cross town rivals. The book looks at the deep-pocketed and free-spending Maroons days of the 1920s through to their struggles and ultimate demise in the Great Depression in the 1930s.

Brown also includes some fascinating memorabilia, such as old newspaper advertisements, programs, cartoons, cards and photos.


  © Blogger templates Newspaper III by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP