Aug 122011

2010-11 was great year for avid consumers and readers of hockey books.  At this point we’ll take a wait and see approach to measure this coming year’s crop, but there are a few standouts hitting your favorite book outlets before Christmas.

–First, though – Gamers, NHL 12, via EA Sports, for Xbox and PS3 hits stores on Tuesday, Sept 13th.  Steven Stamkos is this year’s cover boy, succeeding Jonathan Toews.  Among the additions to this year’s game are Wayne Gretzky and the Winter Classic game at Heinz Field.

For readers….

Wiley Publications has three new books hitting the market before the end of the year.

Adam Proteau has a book coming out in December.  The title, “Fighting the Good Fight: Why On-Ice Violence is Killing Hockey,” is sure to ruffle some eyebrows.  Proteau is a staunch advocate of eliminating fighting in hockey.  While I’m not really on board with that idea, I am looking forward to this book.  It’s listed at 288 pages, so hopefully it’s an all-encompassing look at the violence issues plaguing the game, not limited to goonery, and possible steps to be taken to curb those, instead of steering it mostly towards fighting.

Former Maple Leafs general manager Gord Stellick also has a book forthcoming on November 8th.  Stellick is now a sports talk radio personality in Toronto.  Stellicktricity promises to be chock full of wit, anecdotal insight on some of the game’s biggest names.   Sounds like it will be similar to Steve Ludzik’s book Been There Done That. —

Popular hockey author Gare Joyce’s new effort hits bookstore outlets October 11th and it tackles a sensitive subject.  The Devil and Bobby Hull: How Hockey’s Original Million-Dollar Man Became the Game’s Lost Legend claims to be the full, unauthorized story of Hull’s life.  If it lives up to its billing, don’t expect any acknowledgement by the Blackhawks organization of this release.   Judging by the book’s description, I don’t expect it to completely live up to that title.  While the publisher states “This is the full, unauthorized story of Hull’s life—that doesn’t sidestep the controversies (including the domestic violence tainting his private life),” they further indicate this book aims to give Hull his just due as being hockey’s first true superstar.  “In The Devil and Bobby Hull, this once great hockey player and pioneer is finally given his due.”

There’s a lot modern day Hawks can learn from Hull’s past.  However, its chunks of that past that Hull, nor anyone around him, ever wants to recount.  Joyce is the author of When the Lights Went Out, the story of the infamous 1987 Canada-Russia brawl at the WJC in Piestany but he also co-wrote the less-acclaimed The Ovechkin Project on Alex Ovechkin, released last year, with Toronto Star sports columnist Damien Cox.  Capitals’ owner Ted Leonsis went on the offensive last year after the joint Cox/Joyce book came out, criticizing the authors for their presentation of Ovechkin, and claimed various inaccuracies and even suggested the authors wrote vindictively because they were not granted access to Ovechkin for their book.  Leonsis also criticized the book saying he sat with the authors on different occasions and very little of his interviews and info on Ovechkin was used.  Well, in the end Leonsis’s qualms only resulted in more light shown on the book’s contents and more copies sold.  For both reasons, the Blackhawks should just ignore Gare’s new book.  The Hull stories have been out there for decades, so we’ll wait and see if Joyce digs further into Hull’s past.  The preview also promises details of Hull’s reconciliation with the Rocky Wirtz/John McDonough led Blackhawks.  McDonough in particular has been very eager to tell that story, for obvious reasons, so it’ll be interesting to see if Joyce can add more depth to it.

Stan Mikita and Bob Verdi have a 208-page keepsake book, Forever a Blackhawk, coming out sometime in October through Triumph Books.  This will be in the vein of the Bobby Hull Golden Jet release, loaded with great photos, Mikita facts and stories.

Mike Brophy also has another new release on Oct 11.  Brophy gets fifty current and former NHL players to recant the story of their first NHL goal in My First Goal.

Kirstie McLellan Day, co-author of recent auto-biographies of Theo Fleury and Bob Probert, will release a hockey book for the third straight year.  This time she partners with Ron MacLean, host of Hockey Night in Canada.  The book, Cornered: Hijinks, Highlights, Late Nights and Insights (available October 11, 2011) will be published by Harper Collins in Canada.  It might be hard to find this one in the States.  MacLean’s appeal stretches beyond your typical ardent hockey fan into the casual audiences and female demo, so this book should sell very well north of the border.

Al Strachan’s newest, Over The Line: Wrist Shots, Slap Shots, and Five-Minute Majors, comes out on November 1.  Not much info yet on this release, but if this effort is anything like last year’s I Am Not Making This Up, it will be a quick, interesting and humorous read.  Strachan, the former Toronto Sun columnist and Hockey Night In Canada Hot Stove analyst, was also the author of the 2009 Canadian best seller, Why the Leafs Suck and How They Can Be Fixed.

And if manning the grill is your thing, Toronto Maple Leafs legend, the “King”, Borje Salming has a cookbook coming out next month through Harper Collins Canada.  “Grilling with Salming follows the King as he tackles steaks, fish, veggies and even desserts. Not only does he share his favourite recipes with us, he also talks food and hockey memories, from both Sweden and Canada.”

–If you haven’t already, we still recommend and you should check out…..

Tough Guy: My Life on the Edge, by Bob Probert and Kirstie McLellan Day.  Probert’s posthumous auto-biography is worth the purchase for, if nothing else, its first chapter chronicling Probert’s final hours in heartbreaking detail.  The rest of the book is the best and worst of the man, mostly written before his passing over 4th of July weekend 2010.

We should mention, both Tough Guy and Theo Fleury’s Playing With Fire have paperback editions forthcoming this October.

Eddie Shore and That Old-Time Hockey, by C. Michael Hiam.  What I have read, albeit just excerpts – in  a word – Awesome.  August is typically a book intensive month for myself, and I hope to squeeze this one in soon.

I still haven’t had a chance to get a copy of Kerry Fraser’s book, and every time I check on Amazon it is sold out (as it is now) but I have heard very good things about that one as well.  This book gets a re-release on paperback on November 15th.

The Greatest Game, by Todd Denault.  This one I have, but haven’t had the time to read.  It’s the story behind the Dec 31, 1975 exhibition game between the Montreal Canadiens and Russia’s Central Red Army.  This book received stellar reviews across the board in Canada.  Yet another paperpack re-release here, this one on October 4th.

And more….

The behind the scenes Making of Slap Shot, by Jonathon Jackson.  This one came out in hardcover last year but gets a paperback release this October 25th.  Jackson put a lot of work into giving fans of the film the behind the camera and on the set perspective of the making of this cult classic.

Both Don Cherry’s Hockey Stories and Stuff, Volumes 1 and 2 are also fun bathroom type reads.

Michael McKinley’s Hockey: A People’s History (2009) is an encyclopedia to the sport’s evolution.  A must have for the serious fan.

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