Goalies, grinders and greats cap­tured in hockey card sto­ries

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - BOOKS - Re­viewed by Shel­don Birnie

SPORT­SNET’S Ken Reid has been a hockey card fa­natic as far back as he can re­mem­ber. For both hard­core or ca­sual fans of hockey his­tory, and es­pe­cially for his kin­dred hockey card freaks, it’s a good thing he’s put his pas­sion to work in com­pil­ing Hockey Card Sto­ries. Us­ing his in­sider’s con­nec­tions to the hockey world to track down some of the sto­ries be­hind some truly unique pieces of card­board, Reid dis­plays a gen­uine pas­sion for his sub­ject. And for any­one who caught the col­lec­tor’s fever — whether in the ’60s, ’70s or the boom times of the late ’80s and early ’90s — this col­lec­tion of sto­ries and images are a real treat. The full-colour recre­ations of some of th­ese beau­ties will ei­ther have you smil­ing in em­bar­rassed rec­ol­lec­tion or bust­ing a gut laugh­ing at some of the out­dated styles, es­pe­cially in the late ’70s and early ’80s (see 1974-75 Min­nesota Fight­ing Saint Mike Antonovich’s en­try for a beauty of a dis­play of Fubar- wor­thy mul­let ac­tion, with ac­com­pa­ny­ing fa­cial hair). For some of those wild about hockey, th­ese images will be worth the cost of ad­mis­sion alone. Many of the sto­ries un­earthed are also fun and, at the very least, im­part a bit of be­hind-the-scenes in­sight into the game as it was back then. The sto­ries of the WHA, which are all-too-of­ten brushed un­der the rug by the cur­rent gate­keep­ers of the NHL’s of­fi­cial sto­ry­line, are es­pe­cially in­ter­est­ing. And the grinders who toiled for years in the mi­nors to get their “one and only” cards, like Cal­i­for­nia Golden Seal Frank Spring or the Wash­ing­ton Cap­i­tals’ Mark Loft­house, of­fer in­sight into how much of a strug­gle it was, and re­mains, to make it to the big leagues. To be sure, it must have been a chal­lenge for Reid to frame the dozens of sto­ries con­tained within the 11 sec­tions of the book in fresh ways. Un­like Dave Bi­dini’s The Best Game You Can Name, which mines some sim­i­lar ter­ri­tory, there’s no over­ar­ch­ing nar­ra­tive con­nect­ing th­ese sto­ries. But for the most part, Reid makes the most of the some­what limited, blog en­trystyle for­mat. It must be said, how­ever, that far too of­ten Reid’s need to have the last word ru­ins what were oth­er­wise touch­ing in­sights from both for­got­ten and key play­ers. The repet­i­tive na­ture of the sto­ry­telling also gets old quick, though a pro­longed read is likely not the best way to en­joy th­ese “true tales from your favourite play­ers” any­way. Rather, Hockey Card Sto­ries is great in quick, short bursts. Jam-packed with trivia and funny sto­ries, this highly en­ter­tain­ing col­lec­tion of blog-length anec­dotes from NHL and WHA hall of famers, jour­ney­men and one-card-won­ders will make the per­fect gift for the hockey ob­sessed. For those with boxes of cards stashed some­where in the base­ment, Hockey Card Sto­ries is a must-read, if in short in­stal­ments only. Shel­don Birnie is a writer and ed­i­tor liv­ing in Win­nipeg, who still keeps boxes

of hockey cards in his base­ment.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.