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Hockey fans are blessed with a overloaded bookshelf, and there always seems to be more books coming down the road.
It will be my duty to try to let our readers know about books that are out now and forthcoming, not really in the reviewing sense, but sharing information about the new editions and, in some cases, talking to the authors and editors that made it happen.
Plus, I'll try to point out a story here or there online or from a magazine or newspaper that you might have missed (or I might have too!).
The summer seems an odd time to talk about hockey books, but the fact is that most hockey books come out in the fall, and publishers make an effort to print up what's called an “Advance Reading Copy” (ARC) to get into the hands of reviewers, bloggers, and more. They are always clearly marked as such, with a note that it's not the final version, meaning that some errors (usually typos) will be fixed and photos will be added and it's not to be sold.
Sometimes they are spiral bound, other times a softcover, quickie-like book. These are not polished editions, but they give you an idea what's in the book.
It's a funny position to be in sometimes when you get an ARC. I remember reading an early edition of Ken Reid's Hockey Card Stories: True Tales from Your Favourite Players. When I saw him in person, I mentioned one of the entries that I really enjoyed. His reply? “You must have gotten an advance copy, because that one didn't make the final book.”
The Players' Tribune website has been a home for some great hockey-related pieces over its short existence. The site was created by New York Yankees great Derek Jeter after his retirement and it's taken on a life of its own, a place for athletes to speak directly to the fans, without their message being reinterpreted by the media.
One of the latest hockey stories is by Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators. His column is partly lamenting what could have been, as the Preds lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games in the Stanley Cup Final, and partly a love letter to the city of Nashville itself. Plus, there's some fun insight into the likes of P.K. Subban.
“But now it’s a couple of weeks later, and I’ve been able to distance myself a little from that feeling — and from this season. I’ve been able to get a little more perspective on it all. And the first thing that came to mind was that I wanted to write this letter to our fans,” writes Rinne.
It's worth checking out, complimented as it is by some awesome photography too. https://www.theplayerstribune.com/pekka-rinne-nashville/
The Sports Bucket List: 101 Sights Every Fan Has to See Before the Clock Runs Out came out in early 2017, from Harper Design. It's written and edited by Rob Fleder, and the creative direction was under the care of Steve Hoffman. The fact that the creative aspect of the book is acknowledged so prominently should tip you off that it's a pretty beautiful book, and it is.
Fleder was involved with Sports Illustrated and its books division for two decades, so he brings some good credentials to this one, and it's great fun, taking the reader to venues near and far, mundane and exotic. We should perhaps start saving our money now to be able to one day make a trip to the Elephant Polo Championship in Nepal.
For the hockey fan, there are obvious choices, like seeing Les Canadiens in action, the Frozen Four to determine the NCAA Division I championship, and the Winter Classic.
A couple of others made me go, huh? One was the Hershey Arena, which is talked about because that's where Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point game took place; the AHL's Bears get mentioned, but they don't play there any more either, calling the Giant Center their home since 2002 .
Speaking of home, “The Vancouver Canucks at home” was listed. It's a bizarre entry to me, because, while I've never been, on TV the fans of the 'Nucks never seem to be the craziest out there, aside from the dudes that dress up in those full-body leotards. The rioting following losses in 1994 and 2011 seems to be the clincher for adding it, proving to the predominantly American audience that Canadians can be bad too.
The other hockey one that made me chuckle was “Ryerson Rams Hockey.” As an alum of “Rye High” I can remember when the home team played at a dingy little arena in Moss Park, so the leap to the Mattamy Athletic Centre a couple of years back was like going from the outhouse to the penthouse—even more true since the rink is on the third floor of the building. Of course, it's really there because it's still Maple Leaf Gardens to all of us, even if the curmudgeons at Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment wouldn't let the name be used. The “MAC” was home to the fall 2016 meeting of the Society for International Hockey Research too.
Personally, I have already knocked off just 10 from this Bucket List (The Green Monster at Fenway Park; Touchdown Jesus at Notre Dame; NHL Winter Classic; The Cubs at Wrigley; Harlem Globetrotters; Doubleday Field in Cooperstown; the Dodgers at Chavez Ravine; The Dawg Pound in Cleveland for the Browns; Ryerson Rams hockey; and I have seen the Habs play both in the old Forum and in the Bell Centre), so have a lot still to do! More information here.
I figure I should briefly make note of the title of this on-going blog, especially for our non-Canadian readers. It's a reference to one of the most awesome, iconic, cheezy commercials ever— Maurice Richard hawking Grecian Formula, and being told that he deserves “two minutes for looking so good.”
Thankfully YouTube keeps the memory alive: https://youtu.be/kHbjpGw1s9c
As always, I welcome your suggestions, notes, and feedback on other books and authors to feature here. You can be email me at email@example.com and you can follow me on Twitter @gregmep. For info on my own books, see OliverBooks.ca
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