The story of Percival Leary transcends the label "hockey book." Paul Quarrington's 1988 classic tells the often touching, often hilarious story of a once-great hockey hero. Now largely forgotten and sharing a room in a nursing home with an alcoholic reporter, Leary looks back on the highs and lows of his professional and personal life as he sets out on one final quest to reclaim his title of "King of the Ice."
King Leary was the winner of Canada Reads 2008, when it was championed by Dave Bidini.
I can't remember lacing on blades for the first time. Likewise with hockey. I've got no idea when I first heard of, saw, or played the game of hockey. Some years back, Clay Clinton and I were invited to one of those hockey schools for a seminar. It couldn't have been that long back, come to think, because what we were discussing was something like The Development of Hockey in North America, which means we were trying to figure out a way of beating the Russians. So there was me there, and Clay (who was drunk much of the weekend, and occupied with the pursuit of somebody's floozy wife), and this young coach from Minnesota.
And the lad from Minn. starts talking about the origins of hockey. He went on and on about soccer and lacrosse, English foot soldiers playing baggataway with the Indians, some Scandinavian entertainment called bandy. I bit my tongue, but the truth of the matter is, I never knew that hockey originated. I figured it was just always there, like the moon.
From King Leary by Paul Quarrington ©1987. Published by Anchor Books/Doubleday Canada.