November 16, 2009

Pelle Lindbergh: Behind The White Mask by Thomas Tynander and Bill Meltzer

If I told you one of the best books of 2009 was about a fascinating goaltender with his distinctive mask, you would no doubt think of Todd Denault's excellent title Jacques Plante: Man Who Changed Face of Hockey.

Well 2009 has at least two such books, because Thomas Tynander's excellent book Pelle Lindbergh: Behind the White Mask has been translated into English by Bill Meltzer.

Buy The Book: - Chapters -

Lindbergh was on the fast track to NHL superstardom, leading the NHL with 40 wins, winning the Vezina trophy, and leading his Flyers to the Stanley Cup finals in just his second full NHL season. With his bright white Bernie Parent style mask, he was easily one of the league's most popular players on both sides of the Atlantic ocean.

Unfortunately he was also on the fast track of life, and then death. Early in the 1985-86 season Lindbergh died after crashing his Porsche 930 Turbo in a drinking and driving accident. He was kept on life support only so that his father could come from Sweden to say good bye.

As a young fan back then, it was hard to deal with. How could someone who was on top of the world have lost it all so quickly?

That is the background story behind this compelling book by Tynander. The book was first released in Sweden in 2006, and became a best seller. Bill Meltzer, a journalist who taught himself Swedish, translates the book for English audiences.

The authors give us a great look into the life of Lindbergh, from his youth as a hockey-crazed boy to his obsession with speed. They do a great job of painting Lindbergh as a genuine and wonderful person who loved life. It is in many ways more about Lindbergh the human being as it is about Pelle Lindbergh the NHL star.

The authors do not try to hide the inevitable truth that Pelle Lindbergh's story is a very sad one, even an angry one, especially given that his demise was so preventable.

Much like the real life story, this book is split into two distinctive stories - a celebration of a wonderful life, and the tragedy of a heart wrenching death. The book jumps back and forth between the two stories a bit, but what it lacks in flow it makes up for in emotion and insight.


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