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Hockey: A People's History

A book by Michael McKinley

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A beautiful book that brings the history of the game alive...

  • Feb 27, 2007
Rating:
+5
If you're a hockey fan with an appreciation for the history of the game, *this* is the book you need to read... Hockey: A People's History by Michael McKinley. This both entertained and educated me, and brought the history of hockey alive in a way I've never seen it before.

Contents: Prologue; The Temple and the Chalice; Gold After Silver; Blood and Champagne; The Dustbowl Dream; A Cool Medium; Us and Them; The Soul of a Nation; Hope and Betrayal; The Winter of Our Discontent; Reclaiming the Game; Acknowledgements; Index

This is a coffee-table companion book to a CBC series of the same name. Not living in Canada, I can't say I've seen the series. But if it's anything like the book, it must be outstanding. McKinley goes back to the beginning of the game we know as hockey, back to 1875 when the first game was played in Montreal. Many other variations of the game existed before then, but generally speaking, this is when the game started in its modern form. Lavishly illustrated, he works his way up through time, from the birth of the Stanley Cup to the lockout season of 2004-2005. In between, you learn about the great names of the sport who often are just names attached to trophies unless you know the history... Hobie Baker, Frank Calder, Conn Smythe, and many others. The stories of teams put together to challenge for the Stanley Cup, back in the day when it was up for grabs to just about anyone. There's even coverage of the Portland Rosebuds, who challenged the Montreal Canadiens in 1916. Junior and women's hockey also figure prominently in the story, so whatever your particular interest niche is for the game, you'll find it in here.

I remember a few years back when my kids attended a hockey camp in Penticton, British Columbia. The final day included a game played in the city arena that was home to the Penticton Vees. It's an old-time barn, with plenty of memorabilia from years gone by. But until I read this book, I didn't realize just how big a deal that team was. That team went over to Germany in 1955 and beat the Russian team for the World Championships, and was the toast of Canada in the midst of the Cold War tension of the time. Walking through the arena, you could almost feel the ghosts of history, the thousands of games that had been played there. It's hard to explain, but hockey in Canada is more than just a sport, it's a national identity and obsession.

I don't know that I've spent as much time lingering and savoring a book than I did this one. It's a pleasure to read, and will add immensely to your understanding and respect of the game.

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About the reviewer
Thomas Duff ()
Ranked #43
Thomas Duff, aka "Duffbert", is a long-time member of the Lotus community. He's primarily focused on the development side of the Notes/Domino environment, currently working for a large insurance … more
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*Starred Review* McKinley's history of the "fast, rough, beautiful game" comprehensively chronicles hockey from its genesis as a winter substitute for lacrosse. A companion to a similarly titled CBC TV series, the lavishly illustrated book combines punchy boxed features celebrating individuals and hockey oddments and a detailed tracing of the game's development. Among the tidbits one learns: the New York Rangers' name derives from a pun (their first owner was Tex Rickard, making them "Tex's Rangers"), women introduced the goalie mask (at various times, they employed a baseball catcher's mask and a fencing cage) decades before Ken Dryden became an inspiration toFriday the 13th's Jason, and women's professional hockey dates back nearly as far as men's but disappeared after the 1940s. Of course, McKinley returns frequently to hockey's hallowed rivalry: the Toronto Maple Leafs versus the Montreal Canadiens. Only the Yankees versus the Red Sox yarn can compare to that of the Francophone-beloved Canadiens and mercurial Conn Smythe's scheming to make the Leafs their outranking Anglo analogue. Bouts of hand-wringing over the way American money threatens hockey's Canadian identity punctuate the continuum as McKinley gives all the franchises and all the stars, from Cyclone Taylor to Maurice "Rocket" Richard to Wayne Gretzky, their due. Essential for general sports as well as hockey-intensive collections.Mike Tribby
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ISBN-10: 0771057695
ISBN-13: 978-0771057694
Author: Michael McKinley
Genre: Biographies & Memoirs
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart
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