Nearly 29 years after he skated his last shift, former St. Louis Blues center, honored Hockey Hall of Fame member and current Blues color commentator Bernie Federko finally penned an autobiography. Entitled “Bernie Federko: My Blues Note,” and co-authored with Jeremy Rutherford of The Athletic, the former superstar recounts his 14-year NHL career and what came afterward. Federko — perhaps because of his subsequent career as a broadcaster — has no shortage of interesting things to say, good or bad, about those he played for, with or against.
With the NHL hockey season back in full swing, we take a look at five hockey books from the 2017-18 season that are well worth the read. And if you aren’t a hockey fan, don’t worry; these books will still appeal to anyone who loves reading about sports.
“Gratoony the Loony”
by Gilles Gratton and Greg Oliver
Gilles Gratton had a short, tumultuous career in the National Hockey League and World Hockey Association during the 1970s – but not because he lacked talent. The oddball goalie, best known for his lion mask, was sometimes said to be better than Ken Dryden when it came to his ability to stop pucks. The problem was, Gratton hated playing hockey.
“Gratoony the Loony: The Wild, Unpredictable Life of Gilles Gratton,” explores the life and times of one of hockey’s most colorful characters. Despite having the talent to garner a six-figure contract – great money for a pro hockey player in the 1970s – and representing Canada in international tournaments, Gratton sought interesting and absurd excuses to get out of playing hockey. Some nights, he couldn’t play because of a bad horoscope. Other nights, Gratton’s war wounds – incurred during his “past life” as a soldier in the Spanish Inquisition – made it too painful for him to play. The list goes on.
Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk.
NOTE: This interview with Jeremy Roenick was originally published in the October 2013 issue of Beckett Hockey Magazine. Because very few of you probably saw it, and it was five years ago, I am reprinting it here, just in time for the 25th Anniversary of NHL ’94.
Jeremy Roenick electrified crowds during his 20 seasons in the NHL with his hard-nosed, high-scoring style of play. He reached the 50-goal plateau three times and was the third American-born player to score over 500 career goals. When he retired in 2009, Roenick scored 513 goals and 703 assists in 1363 games. A year later, he was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, and is currently a studio analyst for NHL games broadcast on NBC.
Yet, to a generation of hockey fans, Roenick is perhaps better known as being one of the best-ever video game characters to grace a TV screen. NHL ’94, released in fall of 1993 and currently celebrating its 20th anniversary, is considered the best video game from the classic gaming era. In the game, which used the names and attributes of real NHL players, Roenick was nearly unstoppable. His great speed and agility, along with one of the hardest and most accurate shots, make J.R. the biggest offensive threat in NHL ’94.
In the Genesis version of the game, a programming mistake — known as the “weight bug” — made lightweight players actually more difficult to knock down while also making them hit harder. This resulted in Roenick being a total wrecking ball in NHL ’94, with a better mix of offensive skills than Mario Lemieux or Wayne Gretzky.
Movie-goers would also learn about Roenick in the 1996 film Swingers, starring Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau. In a memorable scene, the characters are playing NHL ’94 (although the cutaway shots of the game are actually from Electronic Arts’ previous hockey game, NHLPA Hockey ’93). When accused of playing unfairly, Vaughn’s character Trent replies “Y’know, it’s not so much me as Roenick; he’s good.” This cemented Roenick’s status as a pop culture icon and a video game legend.
Recently, Roenick talked with Beckett Hockey about his video game notoriety, games he played growing up, and what it’s like to be a cover athlete.
Sal Barry: The video game NHL ’94 celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. I’m sure you remember that game.
Jeremy Roenick: I do. Very, very well. The NHL ’94 game is the one topic that is mentioned to me most often to me in my lifetime. Continue reading “Interview: Jeremy Roenick on NHL ’94”
There are bad movies. There are movies so bad that they are good. And then there are movies that are so bad you want to turn it off because you’re embarrassed to be watching it. Ahockalypse falls into that last category. Ostensibly, the film is about a hockey team that fights off a zombie horde. Ultimately, though, neither of those things seem to take center stage throughout much of the movie.
If you enjoyed the 2014 book “Hockey Card Stories,” then you will absolutely love the sequel, “Hockey Card Stories 2.” Author Ken Reid asks another 59 hockey players about what they think about one of their old trading cards.
Right away, the book starts off with a hit: Bob McGill’s 1991-92 Upper Deck hockey card. Continue reading “Book Review: Hockey Card Stories 2”
You might think a book about the salary cap would as exciting as watching the ice freeze before an outdoor hockey game — and you would be wrong. “Cap in Hand: How Salary Caps are Killing Pro Sports and Why the Free Market Could Save Them” is a new book by Bruce Dowgiggin that expertly explains why salary caps and the promise of parity are killing sports in North America.
“Game Change: The Life and Death of Steve Montador and the Future of Hockey” is the latest treatise by Ken Dryden, and a difficult book to categorize.
As the title implies, the book tells the story of former NHL defenseman Steve Montador, who died at 35 — but “Game Change” isn’t a traditional biography.
It explains how concussions and traumatic head injuries affect the brain, body and mind — but “Game Change” isn’t a scientific journal entry.
It also recounts how the NHL, over the past century, has reached its current level of violence and physicality — but “Game Change” isn’t a history book.
“Game Change” is more than the sum of its parts, and like its name implies, it may very well change the sport of hockey. Dryden, the former Montreal Canadiens goaltender and six-time Stanley Cup-winner, has written several other hockey books. “The Game,” Dryden’s seminal work, is widely-considered to be the best hockey book ever written. “Game Change” may became the most important hockey book ever written, as it thoroughly discusses hockey’s concussion problem — illustrating it with Montador’s biography — and how to fix it.
“A Century of NHL Memories: Rare Photos from the Hockey Hall of Fame” is a hardcover, high-quality book that looks at the National Hockey League over the past 100 years. Well, mostly. There are no pictures from the league’s first nine years, and the book is scant on photos prior to 1940, so calling it a “century” of memories might be stretching it a bit. But what this book does offer is a look at many great hockey photographs — some iconic and memorable, and some that have never been published before — from the Hockey Hall of Fame’s expansive archives.
The story of the 1979-80 New York Islanders
“Dynasty” is a word that’s been tossed around in the hockey world a lot in the last decade. What does it take for a team to be a dynasty in the NHL today? Two Championships in three years like the L.A. Kings? Three Cups in six years like the Blackhawks? Two in back-to-back seasons like the Penguins? The fact that you can’t spell “dynasty” without “nasty” like the Bruins?
While we ponder this, it’s impossible to deny teams like the Oilers’ winning five Cups in seven years, and the Islanders gobbling up four in a row in the 1980s were clearly dynasties. When the Islanders won their first of four straight Stanley Cup Championships, did they know they were on the precipice of greatness? I guess it’s easy to look back and think they may have had an idea that something special was just beginning to brew, but every team that lifts the Cup probably thinks they’re going to repeat the feat next year.
When recently digging through a local record shop, I came across this “audio yearbook” from 1980 celebrating the New York Islanders first Stanley Cup Championship. Continue reading “Record: The Chemistry was Just Right!”
Dave “The Hammer” Schultz was many things during his hockey career: a Stanley Cup Champion, a Philadelphia Flyers legend and a member of the “Broad Street Bullies” of the 1970s. No one would ever mistake him for the King of Pop or the Thin White Duke. Nevertheless, in 1975, Schultz released a 7-inch double-sided record called, appropriately enough, “The Penalty Box.”