I often get asked what my top hockey reads are – by other players, fans, family and people looking to get into the game. Below are my top ten hockey reads, I have left out any coaching manuals or conditioning books. These books are just for anyone who loves the game, or wants to. The coaching and conditioning books will await another post. And without further ado (and in no particular order:)
Dino-Hockey combines two of my favorite things. Dinosaurs (an obsession I still haven’t outgrown) and hockey. Obviously it is a kids book, but if you can’t enjoy carnivores vs herbivores on the ice then you are taking yourself far too seriously. If you have kids, most likely sons, get this one.
What it’s missing: Gore. If they wanted to re-release this book, they should do it for adults and include all the glory and fighting that should be in this one. As a throw back to another obsession of mine, Mutant League Hockey, if other team doesn’t have enough players to field a team, they can’t win.
I haven’t finished this book – but what I got from it was amazing, and I’ve already ordered it. It basically gives you a quick look at some of, you guessed it, hockey’s greatest stories. A number of authors chime in to share the stories, and from the introduction to, about page 50 something was great. I doubt it fell off after that, but I’ll find out.
What it’s missing: Quips from the players themselves. I think it would have been a great element if a couple players could have shot over a line or two about each story via email. That being said, it’s still a great read.
A lot of people will call me out, as this book is written much like a coaching guide. I’ve included it because it also demonstrates what hockey is all about. It discusses the skills, as well as the mental fortitude and quick thinking behind the game. For people who have watched, and wonder what is going through a players mind, this book will help get you there.
What it’s missing: For what this book is, it isn’t really missing much. It does have a bonus forward by Mark Messier.
Another children’s book, by the same author who wrote Z is for Zamboni, this one instead goes through numbers. 1-12, then 15, 20, 25, 30, then by tens to 100. If you have a kid who is into hockey, or a spouse who may as well be a child, then its a good pickup. He ties in a lot of hockey trivia and knowledge, as well as the whole counting thing.
What it’s missing: For a kids book, I’m not sure what else could be tied in. The book even touches on penalties and the sin bin.
Ok I haven’t read this book. But I did flip through it when trying to decide if I was going to buy it for my girl – who often says I love the ice more than her. I try to explain to her that it isn’t that I love it more per se, but that the ice is only open certain hours, whereas she and I can hang out almost anytime. She doesn’t seem to get it, so I am hoping this book will live up to the North Shore News’ review “Two words: relationship saver!”
What it’s missing: No idea. If I was caught reading this by someone on one of my teams I would be forced to play in panties, and would most likely have the name on the back of my jersey changed to something like “Princess” or “Daisy.”
The Code is probably one of the best hockey books I have ever read. I will admit that I love the fighting aspect of the game, and think that it adds a whole element to the game. In no other sport can two players decide to drop the gloves, settle their differences, cool down and come back to get some more. The Code expands more on how fighting keeps the NHL cleaner than extra penalties, and how the changes in the rules are negatively affected the superstars of the game. I could go on and on, but I’ll try to keep these short.
What it’s missing: Not a damn thing. It keeps you turning the pages, and strikes a good balance of interviews and discussions with players, explaining history and past events, and then getting into the psychology and consequences of fighting.
PS: John, call me before next game and I’ll try to remember to bring this for you.
Putting a Roof on Winter is a great book for anyone who wants to know how hockey came to be the way it is today. This book covers conceptualization of the sport, and how its roots in different areas built it into what it is today. It even has some really old pictures of old teams and players. All I can say is the guys who played back in the day were tough bastards. Not only did they play without helmets, they played with piss-poor skates, and pads that were little more than a piece of leather and a string. They also allowed slashing and more than one player gave up the ghost as the result of a particularly nasty slash. (Albeit it was to the head)
What it’s missing: Page turnability. The book is chock full of knowledge and history from players, teams, how teams were managed, and how the leagues began. But, it does get caught reading more like a history book in a few spots. If you can trudge through though, it’s well worth it.
This book is a great read. It doesn’t read like any of the other books on this list – it is a compilation of top ten lists, and the stories behind each part o each list. The stories range from the 10 craziest owners, and stories for each, to the 10 most embarrassing moments. It has nicknames, stories, fights, etc. It’s got everything. As a matter of fact I’m going to re-read this book next week.
What it’s missing: Not much, it is great for what it is. If you’re looking for in depth background, then check out one of the other books. If you’re looking for great qucik stories and tales, then this is it.
Another good great read, this one is all about the players themselves. It gives a pic, a bio and their stats, as well as their story. Anything from a heartbreaking trade to an overtime goal – a lot of key moments are relived in these pages. This book was published pretty recently, and is definitely a solid read.
What it’s missing: Again not much. I would have liked to see more of the great enforcers included in the book, but it does a great job highlighting a long list of players greatest stories – everyone from Hasek to Lemieux, Gretzky to Orr.
This was actually written by the same author as the book above. It’s a quick read with a ton of hockey quotes. Trash talk, team rallying, moral builders and breakers. It’s a book you can either read cover to cover, or just crack open here and there and check out a quote. I suggest dog-earing the corners of the pages you have already read, so you get a new one each time.
What it’s missing: For what it is, it’s perfect. I wish he would set up a website and add to the quips in the book. Then you could just go click random and get a great line from a hockey player. Please note I withheld myself from using a corny one-liner / one-timer comparison pun here.
As an ending to this post (the first actual post with content) I’d like other people to add their corny one-liner/one-timer. Best one will get a puck with the line on one side, and their name and number on the other.