The greatest hockey books


New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur makes a save. Hockey Night in Canada's Andi Petrillo says Brodeur's memoir Beyond the Crease is one of her favourite books about hockey. (Luis M. Alvarez/Associated Press)

hockey-night-in-canada-100.jpg We recently asked the Hockey Night in Canada team and Michael McKinley, author of Hockey Night in Canada: 60 Seasons, to weigh in on their all-time favourite books about hockey.

Ron MacLean

maclean_ron-55.jpg"My favourite hockey book is Hockey Dreams: Memories of a Man Who Couldn't Play by David Adams Richards, from Miramichi, New Brunswick. It starts off with the story of a drifter out in British Columbia during the '72 Summit Series and he's running into folks everywhere who detest the Canadians and his basic premise is these S-O-Bs don't love hockey and he has a good reason behind it. David has always had the line, 'When are we most Canadian? When we drop the puck,' and I thought that book really got us to the place most of us beer leaguers or rink rats are in, so I really admire that one."

Andi Petrillo

andi-p-55.jpg"I loved The Hockey Sweater by Roch Carrier because that kind of just brought to the forefront the rivalry obviously between the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs, but other than Brian McFarlane, who I think is a great historian of the game too and I really enjoy his books, I really love Martin Brodeur's Beyond the Crease. It gave me an inside look into how a player views the game while they're still playing. It was really interesting to be able to interview him afterwards."

Elliotte Friedman

elliottefriedman-55.jpg"I don't know if anybody's going to find this book, but when I was a kid and I was learning how to play, and I'll admit I wasn't great, my father got me a book called Sittler at Centre. It was Darryl Sittler's book on how to play centre, and it included some of the notes that [legendary NHL coach] Roger Neilson gave him, on how to be a responsible player. It had a lot of drills -- what he did during the summer, and all the kinds of things he felt were important to be a good centre in the National Hockey League. And I ripped the spine off of that book, reading it so much. That's my favourite hockey book ever."

Dick Irvin

dick_irvin-55.jpg"I'll excuse myself with my six books, but I must say I got quite a thrill the other day when my 10-year-old grandson came and took one of my books because he was writing a school project biography on his great grandfather, my dad [former NHL player and coach Dick Irvin Sr.], and I showed him a section of one of my books about my father.

But there are two books that stood out for me for a realistic look at what it was all about, one was Punch Imlach's Heaven and Hell in the NHL. Scott Young wrote that with him, I believe. I just remember that that was a book that I thought really took you behind the scenes from the standpoint of coach/general manager. The other book that I really enjoyed for what I thought was a really good look at what the fella did was Red's Story. It's the life of Red Storey, the longtime football but mainly hockey referee. It was written by a chap named Brodie Snyder, and that was really a good book about a life in sport. Because Red did all sports -- he did lacrosse, played hockey, and would referee a football game in Montreal in an afternoon, and then go referee a hockey game at the Forum at night. I thought that told the real story of someone whose life was not on the field of play, but around it."

Michael McKinley

michael_mckinley_photo-55.jpg"Conn Smythe: If You Can't Beat 'Em in the Alley, written with Scott Young. It's the rollicking account of one of the most epic, contrary Canadians in history, who had so much influence over the game we see today. A fine rendering of a world long lost, and yet very much present.

Midnight Hockey by Bill Gaston, a wonderfully funny and insightful tale of life in hockey's beer leagues by a very talented novelist. The game from the perspective of all of us who didn't make the NHL, but believe we did in the wee hours in cold rinks.

Net Worth by Alison Griffiths and David Cruise. A searing piece of investigative writing about the rise of the NHLPA in the face of NHL owners very much dedicated to the failure of same, and to keeping the players in servitude. Powerful and timely.

The Game by Ken Dryden. That rare occurrence where you get an athlete who can write so compellingly and gracefully about his pro hockey life that he creates a classic that transcends the genre."

What's your favourite hockey book of all time?

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