Rating: 4 star
Published 1983, with update at the end added in 2005
For fans of hockey (the ice variety), this book is a great read. For fans of the Montreal Canadiens from back in their golden years of the 1970s, this book is a must. I don’t follow the game anymore but I did back then and Montreal was “my” team. Ken Dryden was the star goalie for the team that won the league championship for most of the years in the 1970s. They were legendary back then, almost unbeatable. They won the Stanley Cup 6 between 1971 and 1979 and it was a great time to be a hockey fan.
Ken Dryden has written a very thoughtful and insightful book about hockey, not just his personal experience, but the game in general. He touches on the history of the rules, the business of the game both in the 70s and now and how it’s changed, how it feels to play, win, lose, be a part of a team, practices, celebrity, he goes into how things changed when the Soviet and Eastern Bloc teams nudged their way onto the international platform. He talks about some of the individual players, the coach Scott Bowman, the trainer, Eddy. He doesn’t brag but he knows he played for the best team in the league. He explains the psychology of being a part of a team. It brought back many memories for me, reading all those names I used to follow on the sports pages for statistics, listen for on the Hockey Night in Canada broadcasts as I watched.
The coach, the trainers, the road trips, the personalities, the hotels. Horsing around on the bus and the excess adrenaline being burned off in the bar after a game. Different players psych up for a game in different ways. He writes about a few of the players and how they came to be professional hockey players.
Hockey or any sport to those who play it is “the game”, and “The Game” is The Game is “something that had to do with an intense shared experience of parents and backyards, teammates and friends, winning and losing, dressing rooms, road trips, fans, dreams, money, and celebrity.”
It’s a fascinating and amazing behind the scenes look at the sport, the Montreal Canadiens, and of the man that stood in front of the goal and leaned on his stick waiting for the action to start. I remember him well.