So it came to pass that after a single (glorious) season of local NHL hockey, our hearts are broken again, albeit for a (hopefully) short time. So, what now, you ask? How can we deal with the symptoms of withdrawal? Well, maybe you were already on your way to the MTS Centre before reality overtook you, and you realised the game was on hold. If that is the case, then you were in luck since you were standing right next to the Millennium library branch. And we are here to help you in these difficult times.
First, we do have a lot about hockey, and this could be the opportunity for you to brush up on the history of the sport or recall about past golden ages. It is after all the 40th anniversary of the 1972 World Series, and we have plenty to choose from for those who want to remember, or learn about, this highly dramatic event in Canadian history. We even have the 1973 commemorative book “Twenty Seven Days in September” in our reference collection, which is filled with gorgeous photos of the games and the players in and outside the ice.
“A Wild Stab for it : this is Game Eight from Russia” by Dave Bidini covers the history of the games (most specifically game 8), interviews with major figures as well as witnesses of all nations involved in them, and reflects on the legacy that they left forty years later. Dave Bidini is a prolific author of sports, not only hockey, and he puts special emphasis on placing the series-and Canada- in the historical context of the time, and how they changed the sport.
“Team Canada 1972. ; The Official 40th Anniversary Celebration” is an updated commemorative coffee book with photographs and interviews of the surviving players and a retrospect look at the wider significance of the series. Both books are bout to become available at the library, so place your holds now.
A new and quite different perspective on the meaning of the sport is “Stickhandling through the margins : First Nations hockey in Canada” by Michael Robidoux. I was attracted by the existence of this book and its overall premise: that hockey can be and has been adapted by aboriginal peoples to express their own values and traditions. Games played in First Nations tournaments are played with different levels of engagement: some for do it for the socialising, other as a form of expression and pride, others to develop players that could move up toward professional sport. There are tournaments where the teams are community-based, with fans divided the same way, where games are more informal but the rivalries more intense than the upper, more professional nation-wide divisions. It is not a light read but it certainly is a great choice if you want to look at hockey from a new perspective.
If you are not in the mood for a read about hockey, we also have movies and documentaries. A recent arrival is the comedy “Goon“, starring Sean William Scott in the main role. This by-no-means-cerebral movie tells the tale of a former bouncer who found his calling as muscle for a minor league hockey team. The movie goes a bit overboard with the crude jokes for my tastes but score points for its Canadian setting ( filmed in Manitoba, and focuses on the fictional Halifax Highlanders team) and the obligatory French-Canadian player/friend (in this case fellow play Xavier LaFlamme). Also it is quite funny. Think of it as “Slapshot” but with more vulgar humour. If you are looking for a movie about the gracefulness of the game though…maybe try the Disney classic “Miracle” with Kurt Russell instead.
You could alternatively use your new free time to explore new interests, or adopt another sport. Recently, we had a chance to witness the Canadian women’s soccer team show its mettle at the Olympics, so why not read up on them: “Goals and Dreams : a Celebration of Canadian Women’s Soccer”by Shel Brødsgaard and Bob Mackin. Or if you prefer the professionals, “Soccer Men : Profiles of the Rogues, Geniuses, and Neurotics who Dominate the world’s Most Popular Sport” by Simon Kuper is another recent arrival.
If football is more to your liking, a recent arrival to our collections is “The Last Headbangers : NFL Football in the Rowdy, Reckless ’70s, the Era that Created Modern Sports” by Kevin Cook which chronicles the changes to american football underwent, both in its rules and howthe nature of the sport, to its present incarnation. The author sets out to describe the transition of American football from a relatively minor sports in the USA into the professional powerhouse that it is today. Like many other sports (including hockey), before becoming a multi-million dollar industry, football was a sport where players were actually under-paid (many had part-time jobs off-season) and played in very rough and unsafe circumstances in a game that was under-regulated by today’s standards. Where professionalism and disciplined training took second place behind “guts and passion”. It was also a time where cheating and abuses (performance and recreational drug use being especially endemic) were much more tolerated, allowing for the rise of colorful characters. As always, the main draw to a book like this are the personal stories and anecdotes, which can be quite surprising for non-initiates.
Of course, there is always television, and many re-broadcast of of movies and shows will surely be made available to fill in the empty time slots. But wouldn’t this be a good time to catch up on your favourite tv series commercial-free?
One personal recommendation is the series “Flashpoint” (season 3 has just become available at the library), which is a unique Canadian show about a swat team (called the Strategic Response Unit) operating in a Toronto-like unidentified city. The characters grow on you because their humanity is always reflected in their actions, and how they live with the consequences. Even though they carry impressive equipment and weaponry, their first mission is always the preservation of life.
Of course these are but a few modest suggestions of library material to fill in the void that might have been left in your heart by the lockdown. Please add your own so we can come through this time difficult time, stronger, better people.