“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.
One hundred percent of NHL players will tell you that their top goal is to hoist Lord Stanley’s Mug over their head, skate around in a circle screaming, and wondering who they’re gonna spray first in the face with champagne. OK, cool squad goals bro. I can say 100% because Ilya Kovalchuk and Alexander Semin are playing in the KHL these days, and they only give a damn about money. The second goal for every player is to make the playoffs; just to get that extra patch on their jersey and at least play some late-April hockey.
Now that Ron Hainsey’s Ultimate Ironman Streak of playing so many seasons on so many bad teams — and having made his tee time on the golf course by April 15 — is over, let’s look at the top eight players currently in the NHL who have yet to make the playoffs and could take up Ron’s mantle of misfortune:
All-Star. Author. MVP. Enforcer. John Scott may be the only one who can claim to be all of the above. In his new autobiography, “A Guy Like Me: Fighting to Make the Cut,” Scott takes us through his journey on how he went from a fourth-line enforcer to All-Star MVP. Anyone who wanted a tell-all about last year’s drama surrounding Scott’s controversial inclusion in the NHL All-Star Game will get that here — and more.
Happy New Year! With the holidays and other obligations requiring my focus over the past few weeks, I needed to take a little break from Puck Junk and turn my attention elsewhere. But now I am back on track and ready to start writing about hockey goodness once again in 2017.
Before we get on with the new, I thought it would be good to take a look back at the year that was 2016. Yes, a lot of cool people died — rest in peace, Princess Leia and Ziggy Stardust — and a mean Oompa Loompa was elected as U.S. President.
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What a week for hockey collectors! In this episode, Sal and Tim (@TheRealDFG) discuss the new “Topps NHL Skate” digital trading card app, Connor McDavid’s exclusive autograph deal with Upper Deck Authenticated and Jack Eichel’s arrangement with Leaf Trading Cards — and how collectors can get non-Leaf cards signed by him. Lots of awesome stuff here, so kick back, grab a beverage and hit that play button!
Total podcast time is 39 minutes 41 seconds.
Kickin’ theme music by Jim “Not the Goalie” Howard.
What do you think of the new Topps Skate digital trading card app? Or the Connor McDavid exclusive autograph deal with Upper Deck? Or with Leaf charging $75 to $125 for Jack Eichel to autograph your hockey cards? Leave a comment and let us know! ■
It is not uncommon for a trading card company to sometimes spell a player’s name wrong. And occasionally, a card company might flub the player’s position, such as listing him as a defenseman when he’s really a forward. Heck, we all make mistakes. But showing a player on a team he never played for? Well, that’s a mistake that you would have to go out of your way to make. And that’s exactly what card company Topps did in 1974, when they pictured Jacques Lemaire with the Buffalo Sabres — a team that he never played for. Continue reading “Card of the Week: Paper Sabre”
You know what grinds my gears in the card collecting world? Absolute laziness fortified with an attitude that no one will notice. On Friday evening, I’m sitting back in my dapper, leather high-back Georgian wing chair, enjoying a freshly poured adult beverage consisting of Scotch old enough legally buy itself and nothing more, when my phone pinged with a message.
It was an email from an online sport card retailer that I frequent, directing my attention to a sale. I adjusted my pashmina afghan, tipped my yachting cap back on my brow, and dove in to see what wares awaited my eyes.
No NHL players can boast appearing on a hockey card 12 years before their career began — except Patrick Kane. On Sylvain Turgeon’s 1994-95 Pinnacle hockey card, you see the Senators winger trying not to fall flat on his face in a game against the Sabres from the previous year. This photo actually makes for a pretty good metaphor for the Senators’ 1993-94 season, when they went 14-61-9 in 84 games.
Now, take a closer look at the wide-eyed kid in the stands.
In the opening pages of “Black Ice,” a 12-year old Valmore James is teaching himself to ice skate after-hours in a darkened hockey arena. Meanwhile, his pet dog is making a game of emerging from the shadows, knocking James to the ice, and running away. James believes that if he could learn to skate while dodging a charging Doberman, he would be able to avoid getting hit when playing hockey.
But during his career, it was other hockey players who would try to avoid getting hit by James. In his autobiography, “Black Ice: The Val James Story,” we follow James, as he makes the unlikely journey as a young man, transplanted from Florida to New York, who learns how to play hockey as a teenager and becomes the first African American to skate in the NHL. We also learn about the endless racially-charged hatred that he had to endure because of the color of his skin. Continue reading “Book Review: Black Ice: The Val James Story”