Celebrating a new hockey season — with books

October is rapidly becoming one of my favorite months. Wednesday night was the draft in the Puck Podcast keeper fantasy hockey league — which has members from the U.S., Canada, Switzerland and the U.K. (I had the first draft pick and took Ovechkin.) The USHL season started Friday night. The NHL Network brought me the two season-opening NHL games Saturday from Stockholm (Ottawa-Pittsburgh) and Prague (NY Rangers-Tampa Bay) with the same teams playing again today. Most important, the Stampede opened the season at home with a win. It was the first hockey game I’d seen in person since the NCAA championship game April 12.

In celebration, I thought I’d combine two addictions: hockey and books. Here’s a list of essential hockey books with the ones I’ve read in bold and comments on some of them. Several are out of print.

  1. The Game, Ken Dryden. Many consider this 1983 book by the Stanley Cup-winning goalie the top hockey book of all time. I didn’t think it did well with age.
  2. Net Worth: Exploding the Myths of Pro Hockey, David Cruise and Alison Griffiths.
  3. The Age of Longing, Richard Wright. The only novel on the list.
  4. The Red Machine: The Soviet Quest to Dominate Canada’s Game, Lawrence Martin. In looking around in connection with writing this post, I discovered this book is currently selling for $250 at one online used book provider.
  5. Searching for Bobby Orr, Stephen Brunt. This has been on my “wish list” for quite a while.
  6. Thunder and Lightning: A No B.S. Hockey Memoir, Phil Esposito.
  7. Tropic of Hockey, Dave Bidini. An enjoyable travelogue of hockey in places like China, Dubai and Transylvania.
  8. Open Net, George Plimpton. Paper Lion on ice, with Plimpton participating in training camp for the Boston Bruins as an “amateur goalie.”
  9. Zamboni Rodeo: Chasing Hockey Dreams from Austin to Albuquerque, Jason Cohen. A look at life in minor league hockey, focusing on the Austin (Tex.) Ice Bats that I’ve been pining after for quite a while. By coincidence, the Ice Bats announced in June they would not be playing this year because it couldn’t find an “acceptable venue.”
  10. Original Six: True Stories from Hockey’s Classic Era, Paul Quarrington (ed.).
  11. Crossing the Line: Violence and Sexual Assault in Canada’s National Sport, Laura Robinson. This examination of Canadian junior hockey also has been on my wish list for quite a while.

My only real complaint about hockey season? It cuts into reading time.

Why is a puck called a puck? Because ‘dirty little bastard’ was taken.

Goalie Martin Brodeur, quoted in Right On The Numbers

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