October 1, 2014

Facing Wayne Gretzky by Brian Kennedy

Facing Wayne Gretzky: Players Recall the Greatest Hockey Player Who Ever Lived
Buy The Book: Amazon.ca - Chapters - Amazon.com

Joe's Take - There are a zillion hockey books out there on Wayne Gretzky, but author Brian Kennedy finds a new angle with his book Facing Wayne Gretzky. The author interviews Gretzky's peers - players, some are superstars and some are role players, about what it was like to play against the greatest player of all time. It is fascinating to read the first hand stories and the various strategies and tactics attempted to stop Gretzky.

The author essentially just transcribes all the various interviews, and does not attempt to present the book in any sort of organization of themes. The interviews, at times a bit raw, are just there for your consumption and it is up to the reader to search for conclusions as to why this unlikeliest of superstars went on to become the greatest player ever.

Still, there is a lot to like about this book. The strategies tried, often to no avail, by the likes of Steve Kasper, Denis Potvin and Neil Sheehy, among so many others, is the kind of inside information hockey fans crave. It does not only give us a look at Gretzky, but each of the interviewees themselves.

This is a very interesting project by Brian Kennedy. I suspect it will fly under the radar a little bit so don't forget to check this out when you see it on store bookshelves. It is fun page turner that will take you back to hockey of the 1980s and 1990s.

From The Publisher: Wayne Gretzky holds the records for the most goals, assists, and points scored in a career, in addition to about 60 other records. These feats, in tandem with his exceptional on-ice performances, earned him the nickname “The Great One” as well as the immediate retirement of his number (99) across the NHL at the end of his playing days. During his 10-year career with the Edmonton Oilers, Gretzky led the team to five Stanley Cup Finals appearances and four wins. After moving on to Los Angeles, he also led the Kings to the 1993 Stanley Cup Finals. Gretzky ended his career with the New York Rangers in 1999.

Far from a conventional biography, Facing Wayne Gretzky offers perspectives and testimonials from opponents and teammates alike, including Denis Potvin, Kelly Hrudey, Rob Blake, and many more.

Never has another hockey player achieved what “The Great One” did on the ice, and it is unlikely that one will soon. This book details what it’s like to face the best player who ever skated, illuminating his passing ability, his deceptively effective shot, and his inventiveness both with the puck and without.


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