Co-authors Greg Oliver and Richard Kamchen bring us Don't Call Me Goon: Hockey's Greatest Enforcers, Gunslingers, and Bad Boys. The book is one of the earliest books to hit the store shelves just prior to the 2013-14 hockey season.
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It is hockey's most controversial role. Violence in hockey has existed since the first time they dropped a puck. Not everyone likes it, but when these masters of mayhem drop the gloves everyone in the stadium is sure to get out of their seats. The fights are often highlighted later that night on SportsCentre.
They play an under-appreciated role on every team, even if it is a role that is tough to justify to a newcomer to the game. They are there to self-police the game, defending the game's honour by holding the trouble makers accountable. The best can also play the game, score a few goals, and shadow and intimidate the top stars in the league.
The book is a collection of dozens of profiles on hockey tough guys. Old timers like Joe Hall and Red Horner are honoured here, along with legendary heavy hitters like Tiger Williams, Stu Grimson, and Bob Probert. There are the fan favorites like Tie Domi and Georges Laroque, and today's stars like Arron Asham and Brian McGrattan.
The best part about the book is all of the first-hand accounts the authors have collected in what must have been hours and hours of interviews. Who better to talk about a hockey tough guy than another tough guy who took a beat down from him only to do it again the next time they meet? The respect factor between tough guys is completely evident in this book, and that really adds to the project credibility. Hearing Jay Miller talk about John Kordic, or Todd Ewen talk Bob Probert, for example, is fascinating reading.
And some of the stories these guys can tell! The stories about Bob Gassoff taking on all comers. Or the lengths Tony Twist went to to train himself for hockey fights. And the names like "Charlie" Manson or "Mental Case" Durbano immediately tells the reader that they have to read about these guys!
This book does not shy away from the controversies involved over fighting in hockey. The never ending debate about violence in hockey is examined as well as the new controversy regarding brain injuries. They also look at what I consider the biggest concern in terms of hockey violence these days - the rise of the rats.
Regardless where you stand in the fighting in hockey debate, this book is an entertaining read that offers a chance for what all tough guys ultimately want from the fans - respect as people and respect for what they do. Mission accomplished.