The California Golden Seals have a long and storied history as the worst hockey franchise in the NHL’s 100-plus years of existence. So long and so storied, in fact, that it took author Steve Currier over 400 pages to document all of it in his book, “The California Golden Seals: A Tale of White Skates, Red Ink, and One of the NHL’s Most Outlandish Teams.” If you love a good story about a bad team, then this book is worth the read.
If there are two things that Bruce Dowbiggin loves, it is sports and business – or more specifically, the intersection between the two. He is a former sportscaster for the Canadian Broadcast Company (CBC) and writer for The Globe and Mail. Dowbiggin was a part of the investigation that put Alan Eagleson, the corrupt former head of the NHL Players’ Association, in prison.
He has also written numerous books about sports and business. His latest work, entitled “Cap in Hand,” explains how parity and the salary cap are ruining professional sports in North America. Dowbiggin recently spoke with Sports Collectors Digest about his new book, why pro sports must change, and how soccer gets it right.
Sal Barry: Why would someone want to read “Cap in Hand”?
Bruce Dowbiggin: If you’re like a lot of sports fans, who wonder why it is that every season starts with eight to 10 teams that basically say “we’re not going to try and compete,” then I think you’re going to want to read this book. This is a book about how we got to where sports are today, to the point where it is that teams don’t care about winning, that teams are tanking. It’s all in the service of parity for the major league sports in North America. I make the argument that the usefulness of parity is over. We want a new sports economy, and it’s time that the people that run the leagues understood that.
SB: So, why write a book about the salary cap?
BD: I wanted to write a book about the 10 or 12 most-significant player contracts in history. I wanted to show the evolution from Babe Ruth to current contracts today. My publisher suggested that I put it in a bigger context. So, that’s where the idea came in, about how salary caps have done more harm to pro sports in North America than they have to help.
SB: Why is the salary cap the main culprit?
BD: As you know, in baseball, football, basketball and hockey, we’ve lost seasons or half-seasons. We’ve lost considerable amounts of time where leagues have locked out its players to get salary caps. Was it worth it? No, it wasn’t. Whenever there is a labor lockout, the owners and their commissioner are always talking about that somehow this is going to keep ticket prices restrained. That doesn’t happen at all.
Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk.
Do you want to give a book to your favorite hockey fan this holiday season? Then consider any of these fine books listed here. I have personally read each and every one, and highly recommend all of them.
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.
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.
What is it like to be an NHL coach during the biggest game of his life? What was going through Mike Babcock’s mind when the Gold Medal Game in the 2010 Winter Olympics went into overtime? What game-changing decisions did Ken Hitchcock make in Game Six of the 1999 Stanley Cup Finals to help the Dallas Stars clinch the Cup? What tactics do coaches like Joel Quenneville, Dan Bylsma and John Tortorella use to motivate their players?
Craig Custance, formerly with ESPN and currently with The Athletic, finds all this out in his new book “Behind the Bench: Inside the Minds of Hockey’s Greatest Coaches.” He gets to know today’s best NHL coaches, how they got to where they are, and what they do to succeed.