Sunday, March 16, 2014

Review of "Between the Pipes"

As a hockey fan who has always been fascinated with goalies, I picked up this book with high hopes that it would talk not only about the stats, but also some of the strange habits goalies have that are the stuff of legends.  Those are included as well as the career highlights of twelve goalies in this fast paced book.  Here is my review of "Between the Pipes." 

“Between the Pipes: A Revealing Look at Hockey’s Legendary Goalies” by Randi Druzin

Ice Hockey, Professional, biography

October 1, 2013

287 pages

4 of 5 stars (very good)

Throughout the colorful history of the National Hockey League, goaltenders have always had a special place that forwards and defensemen do not enter. Whether that is superstition, unusual habits or just being “different”, many talented goaltenders have interesting stories behind their legendary careers.  Randi Druzin’s book on twelve of the best goalies in NHL history takes a look at their careers, their achievements and yes, their idiosyncrasies as well.

The span of time covered by the book is long. Goalies who had success during the time when the NHL had only 6 teams are portrayed are included as well as recent stars such as Ed Belfour and Martin Brodeur. The stories of these legendary net minders such as Terry Sawchuk and Glenn Hall made for some of the more interesting passages in the book. Jacque Plante’s knitting hobby may have earned him some ridicule from teammates, but it served him well while becoming a Hall of Fame goalie. Ken Dryden appeared to be deep in thought while the action was on the opposite end of the rink, leaning on his goalie stick. This book puts that myth to rest, as he states that he simply was relaxing in a different manner than most goalies. Passages like these are the best parts of this book.

The style of Druzin’s writing is easy to read, quick paced and well organized.  Each goalie’s chapter starts with a personal story or two, his amateur career, his NHL career season by season followed by life after the NHL.  None of these sections get too detailed that would drag the book, nor does it skim too much to not be insightful 

I have only one quibble with the book – some of the stories or actions by the men being featured were written in a manner that left me wanting to know more about it or wondering why this happened. One example was in the chapter on Dominik Hasek when he retired from the Detroit Red Wings, only to play the next season in the Czech Republic. There is no reason given for his sudden retirement from the NHL, not even that he did it to play in his home nation.  That left me wondering just why he wanted to leave the Red Wings.  Excerpts like this made me wonder if there is more than what is written in the book.  It doesn’t detract from the overall book, but it would have been even better with a full explanation.

Overall, this is a fun book to read that any serious hockey fan, especially those who are fascinated with the position of goaltender, should add to the reading list. 

Did I skim?
No.  Because each goalie had a unique characteristic about him, I was interested in learning more about their personalities as well as their accomplishments.

Pace of the book: 
Very quick.  Because Druzin concentrated on each goalie’s personality instead of detailing each man’s childhood or extra analysis of their greatest seasons, each chapter was a quick and easy read for me. 

Do I recommend? 
Hockey fans in general should enjoy this book.  For fans like me, who pay extra attention to the goaltenders as they have a special role in the success of the team and have also gained notoriety as being “different”; this book is very informative and fun to read.

Book Format Read:
e-book (Kindle)

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