On a recent wet and cold camping trip I snuggled up in my sleeping bag and tried to ignore the wind by reading one of my many hockey books I brought with me. I picked the right book, as, completely oblivious to the chilling wind, I breezed right through Chris Robinson's 2005 offering Stole This from a Hockey Card: A Philosophy of Hockey, Doug Harvey, Identity and Booze.
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Harvey, of course, is one of the greatest hockey players ever, though he was doomed by alcoholism and depression. This drew in our author. Tragedies make for good stories, and we get a double dose here. Fortunately for our author he seems to have overcome his demons. That's something Harvey never seemed to have accomplished.
Now I know what you are thinking. Why would I care about the author's troubles. Well, even if you don't, this book still serves as an excellent insight into the life of Doug Harvey, at least as assumed by our author. And the majority of the book is about hockey anyways. But, like me, I think you will be drawn into the life of the author. While reading of the author's childhood love of all things hockey I certainly was left nodding, knowing exactly how he felt. I can't relate to his adult addictions, but by then I saw enough of myself to be pulling for his recovery.
Besides, in contrasting his own life with Harvey's the author thoroughly explores his philosophies, and that is what makes this book so good. He has lots to say about family and growing up, as well as hockey and, by extension, Canada. The book is very well written, with the author using very raw and often expletive language. He also seems to narrate with emotions matching his own time line - angry as a kid, drunk as a young adult, and finally with a calm clarity as a middle aged recovering alcoholic. It comes across as honest and genuine.
This is one of the most unique hockey biographies you will ever read. I highly recommend it for your own cold camping trip, or wherever else you want to read it. This book has so much more to offer than most hockey books.