Hockey books for all ages

Scott Murray is the player-coach-GM of Thailand's fabled expat hockey squad, the Flying Farangs. He is also the Vice President of the Siam Hockey League and a lifelong hockey fan and aficionado, remembering attending original six games at Maple Leaf Gardens. 

Over time, Bolt Sports will be discussing many hockey books and how they can give you insight and help develop your game. Here are a few just to get you started.    

A Dryden Trilogy (The Game, Game Change & Scotty: A Hockey Life like No Other  

Where do you start with Ken Dryden? He led the Montreal Canadians to six Stanley Cups in seven years, and even took a year off in his prime to return to Cornell’s Law School.  He is a member of Order of Canada and the Hockey Hall of Fame. A former president of the Toronto Maple Leafs, he was a Canadian Member of Parliament from 2004 to 2011, and served as a cabinet minister from 2004 to 2006. In 2017, he was also named one of the 100 Greatest NHL Players' in history”. 

Dryden’s critically acclaimed and bestselling books have shaped the way we read and think about hockey. He has written eight books about the game, but the three that have created the biggest stir are The Game, written about his time with the Habs; Game Change (The Life and Death of Steve Montador, and the Future of Hockey); and Scotty: A Hockey Life Like No Other, a biography about Scotty Bowman, his former coach.

The Game is a non-fiction account of the 1978-79 Montreal Canadiens. The book describes the pressures of being a goaltender in the NHL, and gives readers a behind-the-scenes look at a team that would eventually win the 1979 Stanley Cup. Dryden writes about the life of an athlete, coping with the demands of a demanding sport and reconciling these pressures with life outside the arena.

Game Change is a non-fiction account of the life and death of Steve Montador and the future of hockey. Following Montador's death it was discovered that he had chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Through the lens of Montador's death, Dryden connects the current game to the past while attempting to suggest the way forward for hockey in the future.

Dryden’s book delivers a powerful statement about the danger of hockey as it is played today, all through a portrait of one player’s short, tragic life. It has been called an outstanding contribution to sports literature.

In Scotty: A Hockey Life like No Other Dryden focuses on his former coach Scotty Bowman, one of the best coaches not just in hockey history, but all of sports. He won more games and more Stanley Cups than anyone else. Remarkably, despite all the changes in hockey, he coached at the very top for more than four decades, his first Cup win and his last an astonishing thirty-nine years apart. Yet perhaps most uniquely, different from anyone else who has ever lived or ever will again, he has experienced the best of hockey continuously since he was fourteen years old. With his precious standing room pass to the Montreal Forum, he saw "Rocket" Richard play at his peak every Saturday night. He saw Gordie Howe as a seventeen-year-old just starting out. He scouted Bobby Orr as a thirteen-year-old in Parry Sound, Ontario. He coached Guy Lafleur and Mario Lemieux. He coached against Wayne Gretzky. For the past decade, as an advisor for the Chicago Blackhawks, he has watched Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, and Connor McDavid. He has seen it all up close.

That’s Not Hockey by Andrée Poulin

Young Jacques Plante’s way of playing hockey may look different from everyone else’s. Instead of a puck, he uses a tennis ball, and his shin pads are made out of potato sacks and wooden slats. But that’s not going to stop him. He loves the game.

Jacques is drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in his mid-twenties. Fans love the unstoppable goalie as he leads his team to one victory after another. But there’s a price to pay: pucks to the face result in a broken jaw, broken cheekbones, multiple stitches, and even a skull fracture.

One day, Jacques has had enough. He goes on the ice wearing a fiberglass mask. The coach orders him to take it off.

Finally, at a game against the New York Rangers, when yet another puck hits Jacques square in the face, he puts his foot down. He will not continue to play unless he’s allowed to wear a mask.

Young hockey fans will enjoy this story of Jacques Plante, whose determination and love of the game brought about a revolutionary change to how it is played.

The Magic Stick by Peter Maloney and Felicia Zekauskas

Inspired by a real event, this is the fictional tale of a little girl whose parents win Wayne Gretzky's hockey stick at an auction. When the child begins to play with it, she becomes her team's star. Meanwhile, “The Great One" goes into the greatest slump of his career. Realizing he needs the stick more than she does, the girl returns it to him, and Gretzky gets over his thousand-goal hump.

Peter Maloney and Felicia Zekauskas really did win a Gretzky hockey stick at an auction and The Great One subsequently did go into a slump. The authors have turned their adventure into a terrific book for young sports fans, with clever rhyming verse, witty pictures, and a heartfelt theme about what it means to give. 

Tropic of Hockey: My Search for the Game in Unlikely Places by Dave Bidini

The Canadian writer, musician, and hockey enthusiast recounts his journey around the world in search of the true spirit of hockey, including stops in the United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong, Transylvania, and Manchuria.

His quest took him to a rink on the seventh storey of a mall in Hong Kong – a rink encircled by a dragon-headed roller coaster – and to the gritty city of Harbin in northern China, where a version of hockey has been played for 600 years; to Dubai the desert of the United Emirates, where hockey is brand new and incredulous Bedouin drop by the Al Ain rink to touch the ice; and to Transylvania, where the game is a war between Romanians and ethnic Hungarians, who were introduced to hockey by a 1929 newsreel of Canadians chasing the puck.

Bidini’s encounters with odd-sized rinks and players of wildly different talents and experiences have inspired him to interweave his stories of hockey in unlikely places with funny and eyebrow-raising stories about places and players back in Canada. As a bonus, readers are also treated to some striking observations about the game, its fans, and the testosterone, the profanity, and the moments of grace that enrich it.

The Boys of Winter: The Untold Story of a Coach, a Dream, and the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team By Wayne Coffey

The story of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team, who pulled a country together that was disillusioned by the Iranian hostage crisis & high gas prices. The “Miracle on Ice” went on to inspire many including some of the best American players to ever play the game. 
 
Author Wayne Coffey casts a fresh eye on this epic sports event, giving readers an ice-level view of the amateurs who took on a Russian hockey juggernaut at the height of the Cold War. He details the unusual chemistry of the Americans—formulated by their fiercely determined coach, Herb Brooks—and seamlessly weaves portraits of the boys with the fluid action of the game itself. Coffey also traces the paths of the players and coaches since their stunning victory, examining how the Olympic events affected their lives. Told with warmth and an uncanny eye for detail, The Boys of Winter is an intimate, perceptive portrayal of one Friday night in Lake Placid and the enduring power of the extraordinary.