October 23, 2019

New Hockey Books for 2019

I hate to say it, but 2019 does not look like a great year for hockey books.

Maybe I've just seen too many hockey books over the years. I have something like 1400 in my personal library. No joking. 1400. That's a lot of books. So sometimes it takes something really special to get my interest going in project. And, as much as I hate to say it, I'm not too excited by what I see coming down the pipeline so far.

Let's take a look at three books I've read so far.

I have no idea what the word summareliquary means, but Mr. Tidman gives us a good idea once we crack the spine on his new book. He collects the box scores and rosters of every major victory in Canadian hockey history. So that means every Canadian based team winning the Stanley Cup both in NHL history and before the NHL existed. WHA Championships are included, too. And of course international tourneys, both men and women, such as the Olympics, World Championships, World Juniors, Canada Cup/World Cup and the 1972 Summit Series. 

That's it. Its a neat collection of the box score and the roster of the championship game. No real context, or text of any kind for that matter. The book is what it is, and does not pretend to be anything else. So if you're looking for this information, Andrew Tidman's WINS: Canadian Hockey Summareliquary has it all in one place for you. 

Eddie Olczyk: Beating the Odds In Hockey and in Life by Eddie Olczyk with Perry Lefko.

Being Canadian, I do not watch a much of NBC hockey broadcasts. To me Eddie O will always be the former star player. But to many, especially in America, Eddie has become much more as his broadcasting career has helped to cement a very special place in American hockey history. He is much beloved and understandably so.

News of cancer and his valiant fight to overcome it has taken all of that to another level. He is no longer a hockey player or a hockey broadcaster (I should mention he is one heck of a horse racing broadcaster too), but a real person we can connect with.

Like most hockey autobiographies, this offering is typical sports jock literature. It's pretty pedestrian, with a few good stories along the way. But where it gets real is his chapter on cancer and what he had to go through. It's heart wrenching. After reading it it gives you a whole new appreciation for Eddie and for life. 

Nicklas Lidstrom: The Pursuit of Perfection by Nicklas Lidstrom with Bob Duff and Gunnar Nordstrom

I was a little surprise to see Lidstrom come out with a book, especially so quickly after retirement. Lots of Hall of Fame players deserve a book on the, be it biographical or autobiographical, but don't. Lidstrom always struck me as the kind of personality that wouldn't pursue the book option.

Shows you what I know!

If I complained about Olczyk's book being typical jock literature, I have to re-emphasize that with Lidstrom. Obviously this is a must read for any Red Wings or Lidstrom fan, but otherwise this a typical recounting of a career with not a whole lot of profound offerings in it. I always enjoy reading about the player's youth and upbringing, but find that is as personal as they often get in these books. 

I think that's why I prefer biographical texts rather than autobiographical. It allows the author to explore certain themes in a players life. Think Steven Brunt on Bobby Orr and Wayne Gretzky. Autobiographies are just a little too cookie cutter for me these days. 

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