Hockey Independent Summer Reads

Until this past week, it’s been a pretty dull off-season for hockey fans. The free agent frenzy was more of a fizzle. After  Zach Parise and Ryan Suter opted for the Minnesota Wild, it took another three weeks for anything interesting to happen. The Philadelphia Flyers surprised the hockey world, extending a mega-offer sheet to Shea Weber that the Nashville Predators matched. Finally, the Rick Nash saga ended with an engagement on Broadway and Alexander Semin found a home in Raleigh, at least for one year. Shane Doan watch carries on, due to the continued uncertainty in Glendale.

The NHL Network may tide you over for awhile until you’ve had your fill of Oil Change episodes and Stanley Cup Playoff reruns that’ll open old wounds if you’re not an L.A. Kings fan. Then you’ll be begging for September to come so training camp can open and pre-season can get under way. But if the NHL’s initial CBA proposals are a harbinger of things to come, you’ll have to wait a lot longer than that for the puck to drop. Then what?

Rather than hurl your remote at the television when you see NHL 36: Mike Richards is airing *sigh* again, why not pick up (or download) a hockey book? Some of the members of Hockey Independent staff have gotten together again and have shared some of their favorites.


Alex Muscat (@AlexMuscat73)

“Searching For Bobby Orr” by Stephen Brunt

“Searching For Bobby Orr” by Stephen Brunt is near the top of the list among my favorite books. The book details the story of Bobby Orr, from his days in Parry Sound to his testimony against his former agent Alan Eagleson, who disgraced the sport by defrauding his clients during his time as an agent and executive director of the Players’ Association. Orr turned down the request to take part in the book. However, Brunt got Orr’s approval to do the story on one condition: that his family would be off limits.

Brunt did have the opportunity to interview former NHL defenseman Bucko McDonald, who was Orr’s coach as a pre-teen, and Wren Blair, the Boston Bruins scout who first discovered the prodigy from Parry Sound. Orr’s billets during his days with the Oshawa Generals, Jack and Cora Wild, were also interviewed for the book.

From reading the book, Orr’s upbringing to his superstar status in the NHL, his story is self-made. Brunt relied on plenty of research from newspapers, magazine articles and those who knew Orr. From the first to last page, the title “Searching For Bobby Orr” fits the bill perfectly.In my opinion, Wayne Gretzky is the greatest hockey player I’ve seen, but Robert Gordon Orr was one of those players that made me think “What could have been?” He was a great player, who retired so soon. Give me a hot tub time machine and I’ll go back to the early 70s to see Orr play.


WB Philp (@LightningShout)

“The Code: The Unwritten Rules of Fighting and Retaliation in the NHL” by Ross Bernstein

The book takes an in-depth and insightful look at fighting and the so-called honor system in the NHL. “The Code:  The Unwritten Rules of Fighting in the NHL” chronicles the history of fighting in the National Hockey League by interviewing over 50 players, coaches and media mavens who discuss why fighting is allowed and the tactics that are used surrounding the fight. Bernstein provides a balanced approach to this divisive issue and clearly explains the background of some of the most infamous fisticuffs that have taken place on NHL ice. The highlight of the book is the first-person accounts by many of the leagues enforcers such as Derek Boogaard, Todd Bertuzzi and Marty McSorley. It is an easy and captivating read.


“The Game” by Ken Dryden

Sports Illustrated calls “The Game” one of the ten best sports books of all-time. The book is an intelligently written work that lends unprecedented access and insight into being a member of an NHL team. Former Canadiens Hall of Fame goalie Ken Dryden pulls back the proverbial curtain and allows us to peek inside the workings of the 1970’s Montreal Canadiens dynasty. Dryden takes us on the road, inside the locker room and on the ice in his last season (1978-79) in the NHL. This is a rare, thought provoking personal memoir written by a 30 year old Dryden without the use of a ghost writer. The book is presented well, chronicling the season, with Dryden inserting his opinions and comments about the players and the organization throughout. Dryden also discusses topics such as leadership, belonging to a team and NHL history in this sensitive portrayal of an NHL player’s life. It is a very cerebral read and well worth your time.


Benjamin Woodward (@_BWoodward)

Full 60 To History” by  Eric Tosi and John Bishop

A special thanks goes out to Eric Tosi, Matt Chmura and the rest of the Boston Bruins’ communications department for providing all of us media folk with a copy of  “Full 60 to History” on the final day of the 2011-12 regular season. It was a tremendously generous gesture – its retail value is $49.99 — from a staff that does remarkable work all season long.

The book tells the magical tale of the Bruins’ run to Stanley Cup glory in the spring and summer of 2011 from a point-of-view unlike any other. As told by Mr. Tosi, Bruins’ public relations guru and John Bishop, beat reporter and web content manager,  who were present for the entire length of the season, this wonderful work of literature gets you as close to the Bruins’ championship season as humanly possible.

From the chronicling of captain Zdeno Chara’s lucky Slovakian horse shoe to the first-hand account of what led to a 1972 copper penny being frozen into the TD Garden ice prior to the season, “Full 60 To History” brings fans of the Black and Gold behind closed doors with many captivating anecdotes within the story.

The evolution of head coach Claude Julien and many of the players were expertly captured and give readers an inside look at all of the hard work and dedication that goes into winning the most coveted prize in all of sports, the Stanley Cup.

There is no doubt in the mind of this scribe; “Full 60 to History” is the best piece of Boston Bruins themed literature on the market today and should receive a perfect five-star rating in any publication that chooses to review it. The book will live on forever in the annals of Boston Bruins hockey, as it tells the story of one of the greatest teams in franchise history and their efforts to quench the thirst of a puck-crazed city in search of its sixth Stanley Cup championship.


Cris Cohen  (@CC_927)

“New York Rangers Seventy-Five Years” by John Halligan; Foreword by Wayne Gretzky

Almost twelve years later, I still laugh when I think of that Christmas my brother and I gave this book to each other, right down to the same edition. But that’s not the only reason this coffee-table book is special to me.

“New York Rangers Seventy-Five Years” is an excellent written and visual history of the longest running show on Broadway. The late John Halligan, who served as the Rangers’ Public Relations Director, takes the reader through over seven decades, from the team’s birth in 1926 (noting Conn Smythe put the first team together at a cost of $32,000.00) to the overlooked 1933 Stanley Cup victory to the unbelievable spring and summer of 1994 and capped off with Wayne Gretzky’s final bow in 1999.

The book also has contributions from other writers that enhance the story of the Original Six franchise. Dave Anderson spotlights the Mullen brothers, who grew up in Hell’s Kitchen playing roller hockey; Stu Hackel focuses on the Russian Rangers, the first to have their names inscribed on the Stanley Cup. Former Rangers goaltender and broadcaster John Davidson selects the 75th Anniversary Team (somewhat of a misnomer, as the selection is  one player at each position).

Whether you’re a dyed-in-the-wool old timer from the days when Madison Square Garden sat on 8th Avenue between 49th and 50th Streets or “New Blue,” it’s a must-have.

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About the Author: Likes: Hockey, the New York Rangers, King Henrik, singing the Rangers goal song, "The Save", the sound skates make against ice, heckling Marty Brodeur. Dislikes: 3-point games, front-office mismanagement, Denis Potvin, overpriced arena beer. Interested? Follow me on Twitter: @CC_927

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