“The Goaltenders’ Union” by Greg Oliver and Richard Kamchen
Ice Hockey, Professional, biography
4 of 5 stars (very good)
Hockey goaltenders are considered to be some of the most colorful athletes. There are plenty of stories about their quirks and superstitions as well as their ability to stop the puck. “The Goaltenders’ Union” gathers many of these stories into one compilation that covers goaltenders from the early 20th century before there was a National Hockey League to today’s elite goaltenders. If you want goalie stories, this is the book for you.
One thing I did like is that this book had passages on professional goalies who may or may not have had successful hockey careers. Sure, there were stories on the superstars who are well known such as Glenn Hall, Dominick Hassek and Martin Brodeur, but there were plenty of anecdotes about lesser known goalies as well such as Bill Ranford, Gilles Meloche, and John Henderson.
As entertaining and sometimes downright funny as these stories were (Norm Gratton skating almost nude was hilarious) there were times when reading the stories started to feel the same – literally. One example – Clint Malarchuk was considered to be a fitness freak in an era where off-season workouts, diet and avoiding smoking were not considered necessary. In the chapter on Malarchuk, there is a good line about this prevailing attitude – “…a time when ashtrays still sat in dressing room stalls.” Later in the book, the exact same line appears in a story about goalies as “goons” – they would fight, slash forwards with the stick and other such acts of aggression. Seeing that line again, while catchy, I felt wasn’t needed. Since this was an advance copy of the book, I would not be surprised if one of these uses ends up being cut.
Overall, I enjoyed the many stories about goalies all across the spectrum both in terms of eras played and career success. This book would be enjoyed by hockey fans of all ages.
I wish to thank NetGalley for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Did I skim?
Pace of the book:
At times it seemed to drag, especially in some of the stories of the old time goaltenders. This wasn’t really because of the authors, but more because of the scarcity of information. Otherwise, it was read pretty quickly because of the brevity of the stories.
Do I recommend?
Book Format Read:
None at this time. These will be included after publication.