Canada's great hockey hero Paul Henderson (with the help of Jim Prime and, supplying the foreword, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper) have come out with the new book How Hockey Explains Canada
Henderson and Prime set out to find out what exactly it is about Canada and Canadians that inspires such unbridled passion for this simple game of ice, puck and stick. They attempt to answer that and many other questions by inquiring with players, announcers, writers, coaches, and fans from coast-to-coast-to-coast. They take their findings and interweave it throughout all of Canadian history, tackling topics such as confederation, Quebec, Western Alienation, even the Feminist movement and Don Cherry!
Now that sounds like some pretty heavy reading, but this book is far from some university level text book for a Canadian Studies course. It is a fun read, often poking fun at either hockey or it's associated topic.
While it is good that this book is far from some dry academic offering, it does fall short of truly explaining just how hockey explains Canada. I found the text to be lacking anything terribly profound. There is no recurring theme discovered. Most of the time the authors explore how hockey and other aspects of Canadian life are greatly intertwined, but fail to truly explain why hockey has such an impact on Canadians.
Instead it is a collection of good writing presented nicely with color photos filling the glossy pages. There is plenty here to learn and to enjoy both in terms of the game and of the country. And there's nothing wrong with that.
But with a title like "How Hockey Explains Canada" there are some pretty high expectations. It opens up conversation, but it falls short of truly concluding how hockey explains all these aspects of Canadian life.
Buy the book: Amazon.ca - Chapters
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper writes the foreword. Randy Bowell of PostMedia News has more:
The idea of Harper contributing to a book titled How Hockey Explains Canada — co-authored by Henderson and Nova Scotia sportswriter Jim Prime — is not surprising. Harper is a well-known fan of the Canada's national winter game, a member of the Society for International Hockey Research and the intended author of his own book on hockey history — presumably on hold while he heads the country's government — covering the professionalization of the sport in the early 1900s.Here's Boswell's full piece.
But the way the prime minister opens up in the book's lengthy foreword, casually detailing his personal connections to hockey and his views on the sport's evolution, is truly unexpected.
"My father's first cousin was married to Leafs defenceman Carl Brewer, so my parents knew most of the Toronto players of the great 1960s teams," Harper writes. "I didn't play ice hockey until I was 10, and I still can't skate well. I did play for three years, but I was pretty marginal."