With Father’s Day approaching on June 19, 2011, now’s the time to start thinking ahead for gift ideas, and a solid option every year is a good hockey book or two. After all, it doesn’t just allow Dad the opportunity to delve deeper into the game, but it also gives him a warning flag to wave and say “can’t you see I’m reading?” For many dads, a healthy dose of piece and quiet is as good as gold.
With that in mind, here are six hockey books which could all make fine Father’s Day gift ideas this year:
Hockey Dad: True Confessions Of A (Crazy) Hockey Parent – Bob McKenzie
Bob McKenzie is one of the most respected hockey journalists in the business, regularly providing keen insight as an analyst with TSN. He’s also a hockey dad, however, and in this memoir he shares his family’s journey through the development cycle. One of his sons earned a scholarship to play college hockey, while another had to stop playing competitively at just 14 years of age due to concussions. Along the way there are peaks, and valleys, and moments where the parents engage in the kind of win-at-all-costs mentality that coaches only dream their players can muster. It’s now available in paperback from Amazon.
Tough Guy: My Life on the Edge – Bob Probert
Bob Probert was the proverbial 800-lb. gorilla which stalked NHL rinks in the 1980’s and 90’s, asserting his physical presence at will and clearing out space for his teammates in both Detroit and Chicago. What separated him from the other great enforcers of his day, though, was undeniable hockey talent, which was ultimately recognized with an All-Star Game appearance in 1988. His career was marked by frequent issues off the ice as well, however, and this autobiography (which Probert was working on when he passed away suddenly last summer) takes an unflinching view of that darker side of his nature. It’s all in there, the arrests, the addiction, the pain he inflicted on family, friends and teammates – but it’s a refreshingly open look back by a guy who was trying to do the right thing and set a good example for his kids. Tough Guy: My Life on the Edge is also available at Amazon, and if Dad has a Kindle, that version is only $2.99.
The Official Illustrated NHL History: The Official Story of the Coolest Game on Earth
The National Hockey League was founded back in 1917, and this tome (recently updated) chronicles the development of the league, some of the great stars of decades past, and loads of photos which point out just how much things have progressed over the years, while the essential element of the game remains unchanged.
Hockey: A People’s History – Michael McKinley
This this mammoth tome (recently updated with a section on international hockey) is a genuine delight, a thorough history of the game of hockey from the days before the Stanley Cup all the way up through the present day. It’s laid out in an inviting manner, such that it’s easy to flip from one era to another and just soak in the story. And trust me, it won’t just be Dad who enjoys this one. My 8-year-old son falls asleep with this book in his bed each night, and at a recent Little League baseball game, upon observing the lopsided score on another field, he remarked, “yeah, but that’s not as bad as when the Montreal Canadiens beat the Quebec Bulldogs 16-3 back in 1920.” You just can’t beat moments like that…
The Hockey Book – Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated has a massive archive of writing and photography to take advantage of here, and they assemble the best and brightest in a coffee-table offering
that focuses more on the “modern” game. Highlights include George Plimpton’s article for SI which led to his hilarious book “Open Net“, and the story of Travis Roy, the collegiate hockey player who suffered a paralysis-inducing injury on his very first NCAA shift.
The Art of Scouting: How The Hockey Experts Really Watch The Game and Decide Who Makes It – Shane Malloy
Scouting is the great Dark Art of the hockey business these days, and NHL teams typically don’t share much specific information into the process they use to determine which players to target on Draft Day. Shane Malloy delved deep into that secretive world to show us just how scouts go about the tireless task of watching hundreds of games each year to try and find that undiscovered stone that might, under their team’s tutelage, be polished into an NHL-quality gem.