“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 160-page book has 130 photographs, both color and black and white, most fitting in between the “Original Six Era” to the late 1990s. Each picture is thoroughly captioned with a paragraph about the player or what is happening in the picture. At the bottom of each page is the date the picture was taken, the name of the photographer, the size of the negative (most pictures in this book are analog) and the Hall of Fame induction year of the pictured player, if applicable. Most of the players in this book are honored members of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
“A Century of NHL Memories” has some photos that most seasoned hockey fans will no doubt remember: Bobby Clarke’s toothless smile; Bobby Orr hugging the Stanley Cup; Terry Sawchuk sprawling to corral an airborne puck; Bill Mosienko holding up three pucks after his record-setting fastest hat trick; Rangers coach Lester Patrick, clad in goalie gear and hunched forward.
Of course, the book has photos of more recent legends such as Wayne Gretzky, Martin Brodeur, and of current players like Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Toews. Some of these pictures are recognizable; that Gretzky picture above was used on a cover of Sports Illustrated. But many have never been published elsewhere, giving hockey fans a chance to see 100 unpublished pictures.
What I like about “A Century of NHL Memories”: The photographer is prominently credited, and the exact date of the photo, when known, is given. There are some great photos that you won’t see elsewhere, including a few original hockey card photos of players before they were “cut out” and placed over solid-colored backgrounds.
What I do not like about “A Century of NHL Memories”: While many of the images have not been published elsewhere, many are not that exemplary; they are either a bit dark or not very exciting. And though the pages are large at 10.5″ by 10.5″, the photos most times don’t even come close to filling the available space. Sure, some white space is fine, and ample space is usually given between works of art when hung on a wall in a gallery. Perhaps that is what this book is trying to emulate here. But with large-format photography books, it is almost expected for the pictures to fill most of the pages.
“A Century of NHL Memories” is a fine book for those who love hockey photography and/or hockey history, and boasts a nice lineup of pictures of Hockey Hall of Fame players. It is available in both a standard version ($49.95) and a limited-edition deluxe version ($149.95). You can purchase the book online at NHLMemories100.ca. ■
Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk.