Essential Hockey Books to Read

Want  to build a collection of the very best hockey books, but don’t know where to start? I hope that this comprehensive list of essential reads will provide you will all of the hockey-related books you will ever need.

And feel free to suggest a book if you can’t find it on the below list.

* This list is in alphabetical order.

Behind the Moves | By Jason Farris 

My Thoughts:

This book is pretty new relative to most of the others on this list, but it could be my favorite. Farris worked for years on it, and he got a ton of quotes and insights that you won’t find elsewhere. Often times hockey books, and sports books in general, recycle what we already know. Not this book. Farris spoke to a vast number of Stanley Cup-winning GMs – how they make trades, the art of the negotiation, player relationships, and much more. I’d highly recommend this one.

Official Summary:

Farris spent 18 months traveling across North America to speak at length with every living GM who had taken a team to the Stanley Cup Final. His 252-page book is the byproduct of those discussions and gives unprecedented insight into what makes these iconic GM’s tick.

Farris is a jack-of-all-trades. He’s currently an Executive Vice President with the Dallas Stars, but has also served as CEO of Citizens Bank of Canada, Vice President of software company Fincentric, and earned degrees in political science, physics, and an MBA from MIT’s Sloan School of Management. He’s seen leadership in action (and destruction) across a number of industries and his interest in hockey motivated him to study what really makes a successful General Manager.

The Best Game You Can Name | Dave Bidini

My Thoughts:

Bidini is a really good writer, and that shines through in this book. He gets lots of funny stories from former players, and writes about his own experiences in hockey, as well. A good read even all hockey fans, but the diehards will really appreciate it.

Official Summary:

In 2004, Dave Bidini laced on his skates and slid onto the ice of Toronto’s McCormick Arena to play defence with the Morningstars in the E! Cup tourney. While thrashing around the ice, swiping at the puck and his opponents, Bidini got to thinking about how others see the game. Afterward, he set off to talk to former professional players about their experiences of hockey. The result is vintage Bidini — an exuberant, evocative, highly personal, and vividly coloured account of his and his team’s exploits, interwoven with the voices of such hockey heroes as Frank Mahovlich, Yvan Cournoyer, John Brophy, Steve Larmer, and Ryan Walter.

All aspects of the game are up for grabs in The Best Game You Can Name — the sweetest goals, the worst fights, the trades, the off-ice perks and the on-ice rivalries, not to mention the rotten pranks. Bidini and the former players offer sometimes startling observations about the fans, coaches, owners, other players, and the huge rush of being on the ice, stick in hand, giving everything you have to the best game you can name.

The Best Seat in the House | By Jamie McLennan 

My Thoughts:

This is a book I haven’t had the chance to read yet, but I am looking forward to doing so. McLennan played on several NHL teams, serving primarily as the backup goaltender. He is now a media personality with TSN.

Official Summary:

Jamie McLennan spent twenty years playing professional hockey. Sort of. As the backup for such legendary goalies as Grant Fuhr, Ron Hextall, Roberto Luongo, and Miikka Kiprusoff, he saw everything—except much playing time. In The Best Seat in the House, McLennan looks back on his unique career, from breaking into the NHL, to working with the legends, to life on the road and in the league, offering readers an unprecedented glimpse into life inside the locker room.

Birth of a Dynasty: The 1980′s Islanders | By Alan Hahn 

My Thoughts:

As someone who wasn’t even born when the Islanders were the class of the NHL, I enjoyed reading about how dominant they were in the early 1980s.

Official Summary:

The National Hockey League saw the birth of a new dynasty in 1980. The New York Islanders had been an expansion franchise in 1972 in the New York City suburbs of Long Island. For years they played in the long shadow of the big-city New York Rangers and were considered the league’s laughingstock during their first season. Miraculously, eight years later, they were champions. Despite their mercurial rise in the 1970s–which included a first-place overall finish in the 1978-79 season–the Islanders were still considered chokers because of playoff failures. The most frustrating failure of all came at the hands of the rival Rangers, who beat them in 1979 to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals. A year later they stumbled through an injury-plagued and inconsistent regular season.

Blood Feud | By Adrian Dater 

My Thoughts:

Dater goes behind the scenes into what made the Avalanche/Wings rivalry so special. Included is a chapter on each of the main players – Claude Lemieux, Patrick Roy, and more. Dater is a Colorado reporter, but there isn’t really much bias in this book. He didn’t really focus on the quiet and unassuming stars – Sakic, Yzerman, and Lidstrom aren’t really mentioned all that much. Still, a good read and a great one if you are a Colorado or Detroit fan.

Official Summary:

 In Blood Feud, Colorado Avalanche beat writer Adrian Dater not only submits that the Red Wings-Avalanche rivalry was the most feverish match-up in recent years, but also that there was none better played. No fewer than twenty players have or will eventually make it to the Hall of Fame; the best scorers were matched up against the best goalies; brilliant coaches could be found on both benches; and two of the league’s smartest general managers ruthlessly tried to one-up each other at every NHL trade deadline. Blood Feud is a rollicking story of a fierce, and often violent, rivalry.

Breakaway: From Behind the Iron Curtain | By Tal Pinchevsky

 My Thoughts:

This book is relatively new and I haven’t gotten the chance to read it yet, but it sounds like an interesting read. On the Christmas list for this year.

Official Summary:

The incredible true story of the trailblazing men who risked everything to pass through the Iron Curtain and become NHL superstars, Breakaway is a thrilling look at the untold stories that changed hockey forever. From midnight meetings in secluded forests, to evading capture by military and police forces, this is the story of the brave players whose passion of the game trumped all.

Brodeur: Beyond The Crease | By Damien Cox 

My Thoughts:

As someone who has never been the biggest Marty Brodeur fan, this book opened my eyes a bit. Sure, it is written by him (through Damien Cox), and there are obviously things that are left out, but Brodeur’s longevity is remarkable to say the very least. Not the best book ever, but a very interesting one and it provides a look at the NHL in the late 1990s and early 2000s that you won’t find elsewhere.

Official Summary:

The numbers speak for themselves, but what they cannot express is that Martin Brodeur is at the very heart and soul of the Devils, and one of the team’s greatest leaders. And when Canada finally ended a 50-year gold medal drought at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, it was Brodeur who stood tall in the crease. In Brodeur: Beyond the Crease, the game’s best netminder takes a candid, personal look at his career, his sport and his journey to the apex of the modern game, including updates from the 2006/2007 season.

The Best of Down Goes Brown | By Sean McIndoe 

My Thoughts:

The funniest hockey book I have read. Most of you know of Down Goes Brown. If you don’t, I highly recommend bookmarking the site and picking this book up. Now.

Official Summary:

Hundreds of thousands of hockey fans around the world are addicted to Down Goes Brown, and with good reason: Sean McIndoe is the funniest writer in hockey. His often insightful, always entertaining posts have made the site one of the top hockey blogs in the world—and definitely the most amusing. From shrewd observations to tongue-in-cheek commentary, Down Goes Brown manages to capture the essence of hockey while exposing the frequently funny side of the sport. Now, in The Best of Down Goes Brown, McIndoe himself compiles some of the blog’s best-loved posts, along with a host of all-new content, in one side-splitting volume.

Packed with fan favourites, including The Code: Hockey’s Unwritten Rules Revealed, The official map of an NHL rink, A complete transcript of every NHL game ever broadcast, What an official NHL trade call really sounds like, An NHLer’s guide to never saying anything interesting, The other former NHL stars who interviewed for Colin Campbell’s job, and more, many of which have become so ubiquitous that readers who have never even heard of Down Goes Brown know them by heart, the book is the ultimate gift book for hockey fans everywhere.

The Boys of Winter | By Wayne Coffey 

My Thoughts:

This book and the movie Miracle both do a great job of telling the story of the Miracle on Ice team from the 1980 Olympics.

Official Summary:

Once upon a time, they taught us to believe. They were the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team, a blue-collar bunch led by an unconventional coach, and they engineered what Sports Illustrated called the greatest sports moment of the twentieth century. Their “Miracle on Ice” has become a national fairy tale, but the real Cinderella story is even more remarkable.

Wayne Coffey casts a fresh eye on this seminal 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.

The Code: The Unwritten Rules of Fighting | Ross Bernstein 

My Thoughts:

A decent read – there are many contradictions throughout the book, but it does provide many current and former NHL fighters the opportunity to explain their craft, and the unofficial rules that govern it.

Official Summary:

Ice hockey has always been a sport steeped in a culture of violence, and players universally calibrate the level of physical contact by adhering to unwritten rules known simply as “the code”. “The Code” picks up where the rule book leaves off and fills in the gaps, all in an effort to govern the game and its players – allowing them to complete in a manner deemed fair and respectable. To fully understand the significance and history behind “the code”, Bernstein interviewed more than 50 past and present players and coaches. Their insights and stories explain why fighting is allowed, and how players police themselves on and off the ice.

Complete Conditioning for Hockey | By Peter Twist 

My Thoughts:

Twist is one of the leaders in the hockey training industry, and this book is a great starting point for anyone who wants to know how to improve their hockey game in the gym. I’d recommend hiring a training coach as well, but this book is a good starting point. I have trained hockey players and at hockey camps before using many of the workouts and philosophies from this book.

Official Summary:

Increase strength to carry the puck through traffic. Pack more power when checking an opponent. Improve quickness and agility and create angles for higher-percentage shots. Complete Conditioning for Hockey shows you how to achieve all of these performance goals and more!

Hockey players are bigger, faster, and stronger than ever before. This special book and DVD package features a comprehensive training approach that will build players’ physical abilities as well as the hockey-specific skills required for skating, puck handling, passing, shooting, and body checking. The book contains assessment tests for determining a player’s fitness status along with specific programs designed to improve balance, quickness, agility, speed, and strength. The DVD puts the training into action, demonstrating key tests, exercises, and drills from the book.

The Day I (Almost) Killed Two Gretzkys | By James Duthie 

My Thoughts:

Duthie is funny on TSN, and he is a funny writer, too. This book covers a wide-range of topics, and would be a good gift idea even for casual hockey fans.

Official Summary:

One of the most recognized hockey media personalities, James Duthie is best known for hosting TSN’s NHL hockey broadcasts and also for his more than decade-long sports column. In The Day I (Almost) Killed Two Gretzkys, he brings his well-known sense of humour, deep hockey knowledge, and his passion for the game to hockey fans and readers everywhere. In his inimitable style, balancing humour with trenchant analysis, Duthie’s essays travel all over the hockey map, covering the NHL, being a hockey parent, and hockey as it relates to life.

The Doug Harvey Story 

My Thoughts:

I haven’t got the chance to read this one yet, but I have heard nothing but great things. Harvey was the Nick Lidstrom of his time, and from what I have heard this biography is very different than the typical athlete story.

Official Summary:

A perennial all-star and seven-time winner of the Norris Trophy for best defenseman, Doug Harvey was a cornerstone of the legendary Montreal Canadiens, winners of five consecutive Stanley Cup trophies. This is a rare biography of an extraordinary athlete who turned down careers in football and baseball to become one of the world’s greatest hockey players. It tells the story of a remarkable individual—a man who was as irreverently funny, generous, and kind as he was obstinate, hard-drinking, and explosive. He was a leader and friend to his teammates, a troublemaker and rabble-rouser to hockey management. Well-written and painstakingly researched, this biography offers a full view of the player, coach, and man.

Future Greats & Heartbreaks | By Gare Joyce 

My Thoughts:

A great behind-the-scenes look at what goes on at the NHL Draft. Joyce got to sit in on player interviews with the Columbus Blue Jackets – he got to see how teams scout prospects, how they develop them, and how they rank them relative to their peers. I’d recommend this book to any diehard hockey fan – it is one of the most interesting books I have read. If you are a fan of Phil Kessel, you may want to skip the first few chapters, though.

Official Summary:

Veteran sports writer Gare Joyce realizes a long-held secret ambition as he spends a full season embedded as a hockey scout. Joyce’s year on the hockey beat is a steep learning curve for him; NHL scouts spend each season gathering information on players fighting it out to break into the world of professional hockey. They watch hundreds of games, speak to scores of players, parents, team-mates and other scouts, amassing profiles on all the top contenders. It’s a form of risk assessment–is this young hopeful deserving of a multi-million dollar contract?–and it can be a tough and thankless task. Scouts are ground into the game, picking up nuances of play that even the most committed fan would miss, but they are looking at more than just how well a kid can play. And come the final draft, only a tiny percentage of their full year’s work might matter.

Examining the amount of information gathered on the under-eighteen hopefuls, the scrutiny to which they are subjected, and the differences between the rigour of American and Canadian junior teams, Joyce opens a window on the life and methods of an NHL scout and penetrates the mysterious world of scouting as no one has before.

The Game: A Thoughtful and Provocative Look at a Life in Hockey | By Ken Dryden  

I’ll admit – I didn’t love the Game. I found it a bit dry, but I still think it is worth reading. Dryden shares his insights on those dominant Montreal Canadiens clubs, and playing hockey as a whole. Reading the book, it is quite clear how Dryden was able to make a smooth transition to politics once his playing career ended.

Widely acknowledged as the best hockey book ever written and lauded by Sports Illustrated as one of the Top 10 Sports Books of All Time, The Game is a reflective and thought-provoking look at a life in hockey. Intelligent and insightful, former Montreal Canadiens goalie and former President of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Ken Dryden captures the essence of the sport and what it means to all hockey fans. He gives us vivid and affectionate portraits of the characters — Guy Lafleur, Larry Robinson, Guy Lapointe, Serge Savard, and coach Scotty Bowman among them — that made the Canadiens of the 1970s one of the greatest hockey teams in history. But beyond that, Dryden reflects on life on the road, in the spotlight, and on the ice, offering up a rare inside look at the game of hockey and an incredible personal memoir. This commemorative edition marks the 20th anniversary of The Game’s original publication. It includes black and white photography from the Hockey Hall of Fame and a new chapter from the author.

Game Misconduct | By Ross Conway 

My Thoughts:

This book is a must-read for anyone wanting to know why the NHL is what it is today. Eagleson’s corruption was far-reaching across the hockey world, and it took some brave people to bring him down. Unbeknownst to everybody, Eagleson was a crook and a bully, and he screwed over a lot of the greats in the hockey world (most notably Bobby Orr).

Official Summary:

Russ Conway has worked at the Eagle-Tribune of Lawrence, Massachusetts, since 1967. For more than five years, he pursued the details of this fascinating story, an investigation that focused increasingly on the activities of Canada’s Alan Eagleson, once regarded as the most powerful figure in professional hockey. Conway’s series for the Eagle Tribune, “Cracking Ice,” from which this book was developed has been at the heart of the FBI and US Justice Department investigations that led to the 1994 indictment of Alan Eagleson.

The Game of Our Lives | By Peter Gzowski 

My Thoughts:

I haven’t read this book, but I have had it recommended to me by many people. Consider it high on my “to read” list.

Official Summary:

In this bestselling timeless classic, Peter Gzowski recounts the 1980-81 season he spent travelling around the NHL circuit with the Edmonton Oilers. These were the days when the young Oilers, led by a teenaged Wayne Gretzky, were poised on the edge of greatness, and about to blaze their way into the record books and the consciousness of a nation. While the story of the early Oilers embodies the book, The Game of Our Lives is much more than a retelling of one season in the life of an NHL team.

Unlike any book ever written in the annals of hockey, Gzowski beautifully weaves together the anatomy of a modern NHL team with the magnificent history of the game to create one of the best books about hockey in Canada. Here are the great teams and the great players through the ages—Morenz, Richard, Howe, Orr, Hull—the men whose rare and indefinable genius on the ice exemplified the speed, grit and innovation of the game.

The Greatest Game : The Montreal Canadiens, the Red Army, and the Night That Saved Hockey | By Todd Denault 

My Thoughts:

A great read on one of the most important games in the history of the NHL, and hockey, for that matter. This is a comprehensive book, and it is about much more than the game itself (in fact, roughly the first 250 pages are dedicated to setting the scene for the game).

Official Summary:

On December 31, 1975, the Montreal Canadiens, the most successful franchise in the NHL, hosted the touring Central Red Army, the dominant team in the Soviet Union. For three hours millions of people in both Canada and the Soviet Union were glued to their television sets. What transpired that evening was a game that surpassed all the hype and was subsequently referred to as “the greatest game ever played.” Held at the height of the Cold War, this remarkable contest transcended sports and took on serious cultural, sociological, and political overtones. And while the final result was a 3-3 tie, no one who saw the game was left disappointed. This exhibition of skill was hockey at its finest, and it set the bar for what was to follow as the sport began its global expansion.

The Greatest Hockey Stories Ever Told | By Bryant Urstadt 

My Thoughts:

I really enjoyed this book – essentially it is a collection of very interesting stories related to hockey.

Official Summary:

Finally, hockey’s rabid fans have an anthology of their own, a showcase of writing as dynamic and diverse as the fastest sport itself.

Gretzky’s Tears: Hockey, Canada, and the Day Everything Changed | By Stephen Brunt 

My Thoughts:

Brunt is a great writer, and this book looks at the Gretzky trade from Edmonton to Los Angeles. Brunt tries to compare Gretzky to Orr, who he wrote about a few years previous – the comparison is not apt, and thankfully he drops it early on in this book. If you ever wanted to know what Gretzky thought of Alan Thicke, this is the book to read.

Official Summary:

Renowned sportswriter Stephen Brunt reveals how “the Great One,” who was bought and sold more than once, decided that the comfortable Canadian city where hockey ruled couldn’t compete with the slushy ice of a California franchise. Bobby Orr’s career ended prematurely, with tears. Wayne Gretzky’s tears, unlike Orr’s, announced not an ending but another beginning. Gretzky’s Edmonton Oilers had four Stanley Cup victories, but Gretzky may then have had other goals in mind.

Gordie: A Hockey Legend 

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed this book, as I never got to see Howe play live. The book goes into some detail about how Howe was the best of all-time (something I don’t agree with), but I did like learning about Howe’s childhood, as well as his career from start to finish.

Official Summary:

For longevity, no athlete in a contact sport has matched hockey’s Gordie Howe, who played professionally as a right wing for 35 years, with a two-season hiatus, from age 17 to 52. In that career, spent mostly with the Detroit Red Wings, he set dozens of records, but the most noteworthy are the scoring of 801 goals in regular season play, winning the trophy for most valuable player six times, being named to NHL all-star teams 21 times and playing on the same squad as two of his sons. Born in 1928, and raised in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, one of nine children of a poor family, Howe was preternaturally shy as a child and not much less so as an adult.

Gross Misconduct; The Life & Times of Brian “Spinner” Spencer 

My Thoughts:

They also made a movie about this book, which is quite a wild story. The story is almost unbelievable, and quite sad. Spencer was shot to death at the age of 39. The book is dark, but it is captivating.

Official Summary:

An excerpt from the story:

Spencer told his parents that he would be a second period guest during Hockey Night in Canada’s broadcast of the Leafs game against the Chicago Blackhawks on December 12th, 1970. For any Canadian kid, this was huge. Family and friends would tune in across the country to watch you on Hockey Night in Canada and your parents couldn’t be any prouder.

Unfortunately for the Spencer’s, a game featuring the Vancouver Canucks and the California Golden Seals was aired instead of the Leafs/Hawks game in the B.C region. Infuriated, Roy Spencer drove over 2 hours to Prince George, where the closest CBC Television station was located. When he arrived he ordered them at gunpoint to broadcast the Leafs game instead. The station complied, but as Roy Spencer left the station he was confronted by the RCMP. After a brief stand-off, Roy Spencer was shot and killed at the age of 57. He started to skate and play hockey before he was six and was recognized as an outstanding talent in his early teens. MacSkimming (On Your Own Again) spends too many words trying to prove that Howe was better than Maurice Richard and Wayne Gretzky, but this unauthorized bio will still have wide appeal for hockey fans

The Hockey Compendium | By Jeff Klein 

My Thoughts:

With statistics continuing to creep to the forefront of hockey analysis, this book acts as a great starter’s kit. That isn’t to say it is simple or dated, but it really is the first literature that came out on finding quantifiable ways to measure what happens on the ice, beyond the basic statistics.

Official Summary:

In an NHL crowded with expansion teams and hundreds of new players, fans have begun to demand more thorough and reliable statistics – and the league has accommodated them. But how do hockey fans make sense of this wealth of raw tabulation, and how do they compare today’s achievements with the legendary performances of the past?

Hockey Dad | By Bob McKenzie 

My Thoughts:

Arguably the most respected voice in the hockey world, Bobby Mac shares his thoughts on being a hockey dad in this book (the title doesn’t lie). Sometimes funny, sometimes serious, this is a great read and one that will likely ring true for any hockey dad out there.

Official Summary:

Known as TSN’s “Hockey Insider,” Canada’s Bob McKenzie is synonymous with the sport and one of its most respected analysts. In Hockey Dad, McKenzie describes firsthand the joys and heartbreak of raising two sons, with entirely diverging athletic futures. He details their separate paths, describing Michael, a 22-year-old playing NCAA hockey on scholarship, and Shawn, now 19, whose competitive minor hockey life was cut short at age 14 because of multiple concussions. Their deeply personal stories, and the trials and tribulations of a father creating futures for them, offer readers a compelling look into the world and culture of minor hockey.

The Hockey Sweater | By Roch Carrier 

My Thoughts:

One of the most famous hockey books, and for good reason. This is a classic that needs to be in any hockey collection. It is also a great way to teach your kids why everybody hates the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Official Summary:

In the days of Roch’s childhood, winters in the village of Ste. Justine were long. Life centered around school, church, and the hockey rink, and every boy’s hero was Montreal Canadiens hockey legend Maurice Richard. Everyone wore Richard’s number 9. They laced their skates like Richard. They even wore their hair like Richard. When Roch outgrows his cherished Canadiens sweater, his mother writes away for a new one. Much to Roch’s horror, he is sent the blue and white sweater of the rival Toronto Maple Leafs, dreaded and hated foes to his beloved team. How can Roch face the other kids at the rink?

Hockey Towns | By Bill Boyd 

My Thoughts:

A great book on why hockey is Canada, and Canada is hockey. Boyd travels across the country to see the impact that the sport has had on a number of communities.

Official Summary:

William Boyd takes us on a journey across Canada — from Glace Bay, Nova Scotia to Powell River, British Columbia — for a look at hockey outside the big cities. Visiting places like Truro, Nova Scotia (where there’s a run for the Allan Cup, senior hockey’s top prize), Bienfait, Saskatchewan, and Stonewall, Manitoba, Boyd finds the people who care about the game and work to keep it alive. He sits in on junior-league coaching sessions, heated playoff games between rival teams, and the coffee-shop conversations that relive the good old days. Hockey Towns paints a vivid picture of where hockey came from and where it is today, from the enthusiastic kids who practice early Saturday mornings to the former NHL players who keep the spirit alive in their late-night oldtimers’ games. What emerges is a heartwarming portrait of our national pastime on a small-town level, where its roots have always been.

Home Ice | By Jack Falla 

My Thoughts:

Similar to the book above, this book is about the relationship that hockey has with the people who play it, watch it, and live it. This is a collection of essays and short stories on what make the game so great.

Official Summary:

There is no shortage of books that describe how participating in a particular sporting activity strengthens bonds between people. Falla’s book accomplishes this feat through a collection of essays on backyard skating rinks and frozen ponds and how these local skating venues allow their participants to get in touch with the game of hockey in addition to building relationships with family and friends. The author, a sportswriter and author of Sports Illustrated Hockey, is the architect and CEO of his full-scale backyard rink, the Bacon Street Omni, around which neighborhood life seems to revolve during the long, cold months. Each essay is short and provides for excellent recreational reading for people interested in skating in general and hockey in particular. Throughout, the author’s love for winter sports is clear, especially as a link between his New England childhood and his current life, but readers who have never put on a pair of skates may have trouble connecting with this well written book.

How the NHL Conquered Hockey | By Morey Holzman 

My Thoughts:

This is a good book about how the NHL came to dominate the hockey landscape in North America.

Official Summary:

Hockey lovers will be fascinated by the truth about how the National Hockey League was founded and how, through less than savory means, it captured permanent possession of the Stanley Cup. Deceptions and Doublecross begins with the 1917 conspiracy among a Montreal contingent of the National Hockey Association to oust Toronto owner Edward James Livingstone from the league. The result was the transformation of the NHA into the NHL, with Frank Calder as president, leaving Livingstone out in the cold. Under Calder’s iron-fisted direction, the NHL became the only major hockey league in North America, and gained exclusive claim to the Stanley Cup.

Jean Beliveau: My Life In Hockey | By Jean Beliveau 

My Thoughts:

I unfortunately never saw Beliveau play growing up, but I was able to relieve his career through this book. Written by Beliveau, it shows why he is one of the most respected and revered men in the history of the sport. He was a superstar on the ice and a class act off of it, paving the way for future generations of NHL players who did a lot more than just play hockey. A must read.

Official Summary:

The classic hockey biography, fully updated: all new material on a decade of personal challenge and a troubled game, with a new introduction by Wayne Gretzky.For close to twenty seasons, Jean Beliveau was le Gros Bill, “the gentle giant” centreman and captain of the fabled Montreal Canadiens during the team’s glory years in the 1950s and 1960s. Retiring from active play in 1971, he went on to a successful twenty-two-year career as the Canadien’s senior vice-president of corporate affairs and to life-long service as a goodwill ambassador for the sport. For half a century, he has been universally acknowledged as a prince of our national game and unofficial royalty to four generations of Canadians.

Journeyman | By Sean Pronger 

My Thoughts:

Haven’t read this one yet, but it is on my Christmas list. I am looking forward to reading Pronger’s take on the infamous Bieksa-Fedor Fedorov incident.

Official Summary:

Anyone who’s gotten to the NHL the hard way has a story to tell.

No one knows the game better than the guys on the fourth line who fight for their jobs every night. They know all too well what it’s like to watch from the press box or, worse, to be sent to the minors or traded. Sean Pronger has seen it all. He’s played for legendary coaches like Pat Burns and gone head-to-head with guys such as Doug Gilmour and Steve Yzerman in the faceoff circle. He was on the ice for perhaps the most notorious violent attack in recent hockey history. While playing in the minors in Winnipeg, he guzzled beer in an ice-fishing hut with grizzled veterans like John MacLean, and while playing in Europe, he caused international incidents with guys such as Doug Weight.

JR | By Jeremy Roenick 

My Thoughts:

Another one on my Christmas list – love him or hate him, there is no denying how entertaining Roenick is. Here is an excerpt from Roenick’s playing days.

Official Summary:

In J.R., Roenick reveals all, from his youth hockey days commuting across the continent, to his time with the Chicago Blackhawks, Philadelphia Flyers and his other teams, to skating with the American team in international competition. From his famous media battle with Patrick Roy, his entreaty to fans to “kiss my ass,” his accusation that USA Hockey had “blackballed” him, and his claims of a bias against American players, to his thoughts on Wayne Gretzky and the Phoenix Coyotes, Roenick tells it as only he can.

King of Russia | By Dave King 

My Thoughts:

Dave King, a former NHL coach, went over to Russia to coach during 2005-06, and he shared his thoughts in this book. He coached Magnitogorsk, the team led by phenom Evgeni Malkin, who at the time had yet to make his debut in the NHL. This book is really interesting, as it peels the curtain back on the differences between hockey and lifestyle in Russia and North America. There are also a lot of similarities – hockey is a sport that transcends borders and languages.

Official Summary:

Until now no Canadian had penetrated the coaching ranks of Russian hockey, but the year after the NHL lockout, Dave King became head coach of the Metallurg Magnitogorsk. From the beginning, King, Canada’s long-time national coach and former coach of both the Flames and Blue Jackets, realized he was in for an adventure. His first meeting with team officials in a Vienna hotel lobby included six fast-talking Russians and the “bag-man” — assistant general manager Oleg Kuprianov, who always carried a little black bag full of U.S. one hundred dollar bills.

The mission seemed simple enough: keep the old Soviet style combination play on offence, but improve the team’s defensive play — and win a Russian Super League Championship. Yet, as King’s diary of his time in Russia reveals, coaching an elite Russian team is anything but simple. King of Russia details the world of Russian hockey from the inside, intimately acquainting us with the lives of key players, owners, managers, and fans, while granting us a unique perspective on life in an industrial town in the new Russia. And introducing us to Evgeni Malkin, Magnitogorsk’s star and the NHL’s newest phenomenon.

Money Players | By Bruce Dowbiggin 

My Thoughts:

One of my favorite hockey books, Money Players takes a look at the rise and fall of Alan Eagleson. It also follows around then-player agent Mike Gillis as he wades through a number of offers on July 1st for several of his star clients. This book is relevant today more than ever with another lockout.

Official Summary:

Incredibly, the legacy of one-time hockey czar Alan Eagleson still poisons professional hockey. The generation of players that “the Eagle” systematically abused, misled, and defrauded continues to take its revenge on his successors. When a former Boston player, Mike Gillis, suffered a career-ending injury, Eagleson, his agent, bilked him out of some $40,000 in insurance money. Gillis sued and won. What Gillis learned from the episode is that players need hard-nosed and honest representation and that no quarter needs to be given in encounters with the good old boys who run the game.

Gillis is an agent now – one of the best. The players he and other trained agents represent routinely get contracts worth tens of millions of dollars. Over the past ten years, the NHL’s payroll has shot up from nearly $200 million to more than $1 billion. Around 350 players make more than a million dollars per annum. And the league’s owners are crying the blues.

Net Worth: Exploding the Myths of Pro Hockey | By David Cruise 

My Thoughts:

Net Worth looks back at the history of the NHLPA, and how it has grown and changed over the years. Again, this is more relevant than ever with the lockout of 2012-13.

Official Summary:

National Bestseller “Net Worth is explosive. It details in print for the first time much of what has only been talked about in the past….It chronicles the fates and fortunes of everyone who is anyone, from Jim Norris to Clarence Campbell to Alan Eagleson to Gordie Howe to Bobby Orr to John Ziegler to Lindros, perhaps the most significant hockey book ever written.” Bob McKenzie, The Toronto Star

Open Ice | By Jack Falla 

My Thoughts:

A collection of essays relating to the game of hockey, this is a fantastic read. Even casual fans of hockey will be able to relate to Falla – he’s a terrific author and does a fantastic job tying all of the different stories together.

Official Summary:

In this new collection of exquisitely crafted essays, veteran sports writer Jack Falla writes about hockey as he has seen and experienced it over the past fifty years. Reflections on the game, its personalities and arenas, and twenty-five years of commitment to creating his backyard rink are woven into family memories and other fond remembrances. A heartwarming and amusing collection, Open Ice is sure to touch every hockey fan and all those who have grown up loving the game.

Open Net | By George Plimpton 

My Thoughts:

One of the most well-regarded sports writers of his time, Plimpton spent time with the Bruins, learned how play goalie, and even got to see some action in an NHL preseason game. A timeless book and it is particularly interesting if you grew up following the Bruins.

Official Summary:

Participatory journalist (and celebrity editor) Plimpton delivers yet another insider’s account of professional sports; this time, the game is ice hockey. A season with the Boston Bruins is the basis for Plimpton’s absorbing personal report of what many consider the most awesomely brutal of sports. The crowds, coaches, athletes’ wives and players each have their own stories, and each is recounted in a seemingly effortless, breezy, captivating style. As Plimpton learns his formidable duties as a goal-tender (a position which detailed description and hockey legend explicates is remarkably dangerous and isolated), he gathers the spirited tales and ambience of the brouhaha and brawls that belie the agility and skilland team camaraderieof the game. A winning entertainment for fans of sports, told with warmth and integrity.

Playing with Fire | By Theo Fleury 

My Thoughts:

Most people know the Theo Fleury story, but if you don’t, I highly recommend reading this book. Fleury has battled a number of demons throughout his life (and hockey career), and he he doesn’t pull any punches in this book.

Official Summary:

In Playing with Fire, now in trade paperback, Theo Fleury takes us behind the bench during his glorious days as an NHL player, and talks about growing up devastatingly poor and in chaos at home. Dark personal issues began to surface and drinking, drugs, gambling, and girls ultimately derailed his Hall of Fame-caliber career. Fleury shares all in this raw, captivating and honest look at the previously untold story of one of the game’s greatest heroes.

Power Plays | By Gil Stein 

My Thoughts:

Perhaps more relevant now than ever, Stein’s book reveals a lot of the inner-workings and behind-the-scenes negotiations in the NHL.

Official Summary:

Former president and CEO of the National Hockey League, Stein has written a less-than-flattering, albeit honest, portrayal of the organization he once headed. Stein’s book is a stark contrast to the on-ice glitter and speed that the public sees. While many of his anecdotes are humorous, overall the story reveals the sport’s dark side. The author, who still goes to Flyers games, depicts team owners as some of the richest, most powerful men in North America, whose business philosophy is ruthless and motivated purely by money and little love for the game. He sees both a former league president and its Players Association as inept. 

Putting a Roof on Winter | By Michael McKinley 

My Thoughts:

I haven’t read this book yet, but every review of it that I have come across has been full of praise.

Official Summary:

The first indoor hockey match took place in 1875–and since that fateful date, the sport has occupied a central place in North American life. Here are the gods and villains of the game, those whose exploits won cheers, drew forth curses, and sometimes even elicited tears. Their tale, skillfully combining character and incident, traces hockey’s changes from its amateur days to the moment when pros skated on artificial ice to the exciting and significant Canada-Russia summit series. Meet hockey’s greats, like Cyclone Taylor and Newsy Lalonde; the glory teams of the 1940s, 50s, and 60s; the powerful owners; and the tragic players, like superstar Howie Morenz, dead at 35. You will come to understand the power of this poetic, violent, and gloriously improvisational sport.

The Rebel League | By Ed Willes 

My Thoughts:

This is on my “to read” list. Willes profiles the characters that made up the WHA – a short-lived competitor to the NHL in the North American hockey market.

Official Summary:

The Rebel League celebrates the good, the bad, and the ugly of the fabled WHA. It is filled with hilarious anecdotes, behind the scenes dealing, and simply great hockey. It tells the story of Bobby Hull’s astonishing million-dollar signing, which helped launch the league, and how he lost his toupee in an on-ice scrap.It explains how a team of naked Birmingham Bulls ended up in an arena concourse spoiling for a brawl. How the Oilers had to smuggle fugitive forward Frankie “Seldom” Beaton out of their dressing room in an equipment bag. And how Mark Howe sometimes forgot not to yell “Dad!” when he called for his teammate father, Gordie, to pass. There’s the making of Slap Shot, that classic of modern cinema, and the making of the virtuoso line of Hull, Anders Hedberg, and Ulf Nilsson.

The Red Machine | By Lawrence Martin 

My Thoughts:

A timeless classic – this is a must have for any hockey historian. It is amazing how far ahead of their time the 1960s Soviets were with regards to training and on-ice tactics.

Official Summary:

An excerpt:

“Unlike Canadians, the Russians, particularly in the Tarasov years, were always in search of new ways of playing the sport. They studied the game in ways that they didn’t study it in North America. They kept track of the number of passes, successful and unsuccessful, made by their players compared to opponents. They tallied how many times they lost the puck starting those attacks. They counted how often the forward lines entered the enemy zone carrying the puck and calculated their success rate in doing so, comparing this to the other option of dumping it in.”

The Riddle of the Russian Rocket | By Kerry Banks 

My Thoughts:

A must have for any fan of the Canucks or Bure. This book reveals a lot of insights as to why Bure acted like he did when forcing his way out of Vancouver – it also gives us a better idea of who he really was, not only as a hockey player but as a person.

Official Summary:

He’s one of the most exciting players in professional hockey, with outstanding speed and skill. In his first season with the NHL, Pavel Bure won the Calder Memorial Trophy as top rookie. Eight years after his debut, the man known as the “Russian Rocket” has racked up two 60-goal season and two 100-plus- point years, despite absences caused by injuries and contract disputes. Now an award-winning journalist delves into the mysteries of Bure’s life, including allegations of involvement with the Russian Mafia; his troubled relationship with his father; the feuds with the media and with the Canucks’ management; and his ambivalent attitude towards his intensely adoring fans.

Roger’s World – The Life and Unusual Times of Roger Nielson | By Wayne Scanlan 

My Thoughts:

A quick  read, but a very interesting one nonetheless. Nielson’s passion for hockey shines through in every page – he truly wanted to help everyone he came across, and that led to a willingness to buy in to his system from his players that was unrivalled in hockey.

Official Summary:

There are a thousand colourful Roger Neilson stories – and players, owners, coaches, and his many friends share the best in Wayne Scanlan’s Roger’s World.Roger Neilson was a hockey nomad, even by professional coaching standards. The Hall of Famer coached 1,000 NHL games and was head coach of seven teams, but his strongest links were to the Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, New York Rangers, Florida Panthers, Philadelphia Flyers, and, most recently, the Ottawa Senators. His hockey story was one of heartbreak. He came so close to a Stanley Cup and yet remained so far. He took the Canucks into the Cup finals, and his Panthers and Rangers both reached the finals shortly after he left. New York won the Cup the season after he was fired.

Searching for Bobby Orr | By Stephen Brunt 

My Thoughts:

I was too young to witness Bobby Orr’s dominance, but Brunt does a great job of bringing it to light in this book. This is about a lot more than Orr’s career though – his childhood, his legal battles with Alan Eagleson, and a lot more.

Official Summary:

The legend of Bobby Orr is one of the most enduring in all of sports. Even those who have never played the game of hockey know the mystique and tradition surrounding Boston’s immortal defenseman. In the glory years of the Original Six, he and Gordy Howe were the Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio of their sport with equally as rabid a following. In Searching for Bobby Orr, Canada’s premier sportswriter gives us a compelling and graceful look at the life and time of Bobby Orr that is also a revealing portarit of the game and a county in transition.

Sudden Death | By Leesa Culp 

My Thoughts:

On my to-read list. Such a tragic story.

Official Summary:

Sudden Death brings to life the incredible ongoing saga of the Swift Current Broncos hockey team. After a tragic game-day bus accident on December 30, 1986, left four of its star players dead, the first-year Western Hockey League team was faced with nearly insurmountable odds against not only its future success but its very survival. The heartbreaking story made headlines across North America, and the club garnered acclaim when it triumphantly rebounded and won the Canadian Hockey League’s prestigious Memorial Cup in 1989.

They Call Me Killer: Brian Kilrea | By James Duthie 

My Thoughts:

Kilrea is one of the most respected coaches in hockey – he has helped many young players take the next step from the OHL to the NHL. A lot of good stories in this one from a very interesting career.

Official Summary:

With more wins than any coach in junior hockey history, and a personality as large as his winning record, Brian Kilrea is more than a hockey legend, he’s one of the most beloved figures in the game. With veteran sportswriter, James Duthie, Kilrea gives fans a rink-side view of his early days as a player with the Red Wings and what it was like to score the first-ever goal in the history of the L.A. Kings; as well as his role as a coach for the Ottawa 67s and as a mentor to young stars of the future. With stories and comments from famous NHLers who played for Killer, including Bryan Trottier and Dennis Potvin, as well as coaches, trainers, and general managers, readers will get a taste of Kilrea’s hardnosed coaching style, as well as the knowledge and dedication that has made him last so long.

They Don’t Play Hockey in Heaven | By Ken Baker 

My Thoughts:

Another one on this list that I haven’t read, but is on my to read list. A lot of people I consulted when putting this list together recommended this one to me.

Official Summary:

Hockey exerts a mesmerizing hold on its participants and fans, as exploits like Baker’s attest. Once a highly touted high-school player, considered a strong possibility for the U.S. Olympic team, goalie Baker’s pro hockey aspirations were forestalled during college by a brain tumor. After his recovery, the allure of the fast-paced hockey world surged within him again. He took a break from a budding journalism career to give hockey a last shot, joining the minor-league Bakersfield (California) Condors. And he was back in that strange but serene world between the pipes, blocking biscuit-sized pieces of hard rubber hurtling at him at speeds up to 100 mph. Ah, sports bliss! Baker’s story conjures the spirit of another great tale of boisterous minor-league hockey, the movie Slap Shot, but possessed of the old-pro-in-the-minor-leagues charm of that classic baseball flick, Bull Durham.

Thunder and Lightning | By Phil Esposito 

My Thoughts:

The truth of everything in this book may be up for debate – Esposito tells some pretty interesting tales, but overall this book does give some good insights into the Bruins teams of the past – Bobby Orr, Esposito, and so on. His involvement in the ownership of the Lightning is also discussed.

Official Summary:

An excerpt:

At a party marking the end of his third season with the Blackhawks, Phil Esposito told coach Billy Reay and GM Tommy Ivan that they had a great team, maybe even a dynasty, but that the two of them would screw it up.

It was a classic Espo moment (and may have had something to do with his being traded to the Bruins): the big centre from the Soo who became one of hockey’s all-time leading scorers, has never been reluctant to speak his mind. In this rollicking hockey memoir, he reveals what it was like to play with other Hall of Famers like Howe and Hull and Orr. He recalls his acrimonious encounters with Allan Eagleson, the incredible intensity of the 1972 Canada-Russia series, the fabulous ride with the great Bruins teams of the early 1970s, and the tough years that followed with the New York Rangers.

Tretiak: The Legend | By Vladislav Tretiak 

My Thoughts:

I have yet to read this book, but have only heard good things. Tretiak is one of the most important figures in the history of the sport.

Official Summary:

Tretiak never plays a stereotyped game. He is like a living computer – first he ‘inputs’ into his head all the information connected with the state of play, processes it and ‘outputs’ the right decision, taking account of a number of factors: from which point the shot is most likely to be made; which part of the goal the puck will be sent towards; which of this teammates are on the ice at the moment;which of his opponents are attacking. “Aha, Henderson, he’ll never try for an intricate shot.” “Hey, is that Bobby Hull stealing up on me? That means the puck’ll be passed to  him and – slam!” “That Martinec with the puck? He’ll probably try and deke it around me.” All this information is processed instantly – there is no time to waste, with the puck flying at the speed of an airplane.

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

My Thoughts:

This may be my favorite hockey book, and I genuinely mean that. This book, better than any other I have read, shows why the sport of hockey has captivated so many people. Fans fall in love with the game without knowing the slightest rule or fact about it, and players all around the world (literally everywhere) are united by one thing – their love of a fresh sheet of ice, a puck, and a stick.

Official Summary:

On a hot summer’s day in 1998, when Dave Bidini found himself watching Martha Stewart rather than the Stanley Cup playoffs, he knew that something was seriously amiss: The game he loved had crossed the line. It was now an entertainment, not a sport. A passionate hockey fan and rec player, Bidini immediately resolved to follow Canada’s best export to the rest of the world, to find out whether the true game still existed elsewhere.

His quest took him to a rink on the eighth floor of a shopping mall in Hong Kong; to the gritty city of Harbin in Northern China, where a game much like hockey has been played for six hundred years; to Dubai in the desert of The United Arab Emirates, where hockey is brand-new and incredulous Bedouin drop by the Al Ain rink to wonder at the ice; and to Transylvania, where the game was introduced in the 1920s by a ten-second newsreel of Canadians chasing after a puck, and where it is now played as a vicarious war between Romanians and ethnic Hungarians. In Tropic of Hockey, Bidini weaves hilarious stories of encounters with rinks and players of wildly different talents and experiences with tales of his travels and spot-on observations about the game and players.

Wayne Gretzky’s Ghost | By Roy McGregor 

My Thoughts:

MacGregor is one of the best hockey writers ever. This contains his best columns. Naturally, it is a really good read. He covers essentially every hockey topic under the sun, and that shines through (pun intended) in this book.

Official Summary:

For nearly 40 years, Roy MacGregor has brought our national sport alive on the pages of Canada’s newspapers and magazines, and now the best of this writing is available in a volume that’s a must-read for any hockey fan. He covers a list of hockey legends–players like Borje Salming, Jean Beliveau, Bobby Clarke–and legends in the making–Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, the Sedin twins. While many of their stories play out on the ice, some of the most compelling take place away from it–Ted Nolan’s struggle for acceptance, Swift Current’s remarkable rise, the many tribulations of Bob Gainey and Guy Lafleur.

When the Lights Went Out | By Gare Joyce 

My Thoughts:

For those that were too young to remember the 1987 World Junior Championship, Joyce brings it to life with this profile. Players and important people on both sides (Canada and Russia) are interviewed. And even if you were around to witness the legendary fight, you will discover more than a few new details from reading this book. The WJC is my favorite hockey of the year, and this book is a must-read for anyone who shares my love of this tournament.

Official Summary:

When the Lights Went Out tells the story of a moment in the 1987 World Junior Championship that forever changed the lives of the players involved, and ignited a debate that has yet to subside about the way the game is meant to be played.

When Team Canada skated onto the ice that night in Piestany, Czechoslovakia, they thought they were 60 minutes away from a gold medal. Future superstars like Brendan Shanahan and Theo Fleury, pitted against Russians like Alexei Fedorov and Alex Mogilny, dreamed of returning to Canada in glory. Instead, they were sent home empty-handed, bearers of a legacy that would follow them throughout their careers.

No one who saw it will ever forget it. The mere mention of Piestany evokes the image of twenty fights breaking out all over the ice as players rushed to their mates’ defence, of haymakers, stick-swinging, and even kicking, of a referee skating off the ice in shame.

Zamboni Rodeo | By Jason Cohen 

My Thoughts:

A really interesting look at hockey being played in places you wouldn’t expect. The Austin Ice Bats are the team that is profiled – they travel around Texas playing in rinks that are described as something out of Slapshot. This book does a great job of conveying the passion that leads people to continue on in hockey, long after the NHL dream is dead.

Official Summary:

Hockey is booming in the minor pro leagues south of the Mason-Dixon line, with the epicenter being the Texas Sunbelt, home to more pro hockey teams than any other province or state including Ontario and Michigan. Zamboni Rodeo follows the fortunes of the Austin Ice Bats as they wander across Texas, living on junk food and beer, practicing in deserted malls, and navigating slushy ice in too-warm arenas. Writer Jason Cohen joined the team in the locker room between periods, suffered through every lurching bus ride and fog-delayed game, and even spent a night in the penalty box in his quest — hilariously documented here — to know heartland hockey in all its sorry glory. Photographs add to this lively, irreverent ride through the heady world of bush-league hockey.

What books have I missed? Would you recommend any other ones? How about sharing your favourite books?