Tuesday, May 23, 2006


That's kind of how I feel today, after a trip to Border's books, and the embarrassingly pathetic "ice-hockey" section.

Seriously, in case you ever feel like interest in hockey in this country is on the upswing, take a little stroll thought the sports section of any chain bookstore. Obviously, baseball is the king of the sports books section, mainly because it's the only sport you can actually watch WHILE reading. Basketball and football have large sections of their own as well, and you'd think that hockey might be next, right?

Fuck no, compadre, it's time to buckle down for the golf section.

Don't get me wrong, golf is a fun game, but the writing inspired by it is a HUGE industry, far bigger than it has any business being. This is mainly because a lot of the men who play golf tend to be exactly the boring types of bastards whose families have no idea how to shop for them. I mean, they go to work, come home, love their families in their typical way, and they're pretty much interested in Golf, Patrick O'Brian novels , scotch, and pornography.

Then, once they’ve gotten through all the O'Brian and have 12 bottles of single malt behind the bar, their families have just two options left, and most of them tend to pick the one where they don’t have to say “Happy Father’s Day, Dad- it’s a subscription to BangBus!” So… sorry about that Pop, here's another book about Golf. I love you, OK? Now please don't hang yourself.

And then, finally- after you work your way through the smaller sections, demarcated usually with a plastic signs extending off the shelves reading “NASCAR,” “Olympics,” or “Action Sports” (usually skateboarding, snowboarding and in-line skating) you get to...

could it be....



It’s "Outdoor Sports" a section packed with books on skiing, hunting, biking, mountain climbing, and the memoirs of idiot “sportsmen” whose appendages were frozen off , were trapped under heavy things, or were at the very least menaced, but in some cases either partially or completely devoured by, everything from bears to sharks to Arctic wolves.

Then- finally, finally- you see a small section, usually half a shelf, this one without even a plastic sign of it’s own, but instead just a series of letters at the center of the shelf, in a font so small that the writing on the spines of the books themselves are bigger than what is faintly spelling out the words “Ice Hockey.”

And there isn’t a lot to offer. You’ll see, oh- I don't know, an NHL Yearbook maybe, and a few kids books with lots of glossy pictures and grammatically incorrect exclamation points in the titles. Stuff like "So- you want to play in the NHL!" or "Seeking the Silver! 8 Stories of Lord Stanley's Cup." Then if you're lucky- very lucky, you might find a lone, dusty copy of George Plimpton's Open Net , which if you haven't read, you should buy immediately. It's incredible.

There also will be at least 12 books about the 1980 Olympic Hockey team, which chronicles the Miracle on Ice, the miracle being that the citizens of the United States all actually enjoyed a hockey game, mostly because it introduced them to a storyline that would one day be adapted into the screenplay for Rocky 4 .

As Don Cherry once wrote “Let’s face it, Americans would rather watch ‘The Rifleman’ than a hockey game.” And I know he said that because it was in the book next to the 12 copies of the Miracle on Ice book, a 6-inch paperback entitled “Hockey’s most hilarious one-liners!”

It's just a little depressing, the ice hockey shelf.

You should check it out.

It's right above the one labeled "Soccer."


colelab said...

You are correct sir. Looked about a month ago for some drills and training books on hockey. I did find one book, but amounted to generic photos that really could have had any sport on the cover. Well except golf since being in shape is not a requirement. Given the shape John Daily is in, I think he would also qualify for another sport which gets more coverage on ESPN than hockey... extreme eating.

Maybe it is time to put pen to paper. I will guarantee at least one sale at this point for your book.

Anonymous said...

I agree, Barnes and Noble isn't any better. I'm new to the sport and I wanted to learn more, but the only offering was Hockey for Dummies which I think was pretty good. Funny being in Long island NY I thought i'd find more oh well

Charles Star said...

It is often said by Cornell hockey fans that the Ken Dryden autobio "The Game" is excellent. Of course, this is roughly equivalent to having Mrs. Dryden giving the same recommendation but I have heard it from too many people to think it is just homerism.

Open Net was a great read (but not as good as Paper Lion).