“Art Ross: The Hockey Legend Who Built the Bruins” by Eric Zwieg
Ice Hockey, history, biography, Bruins
October 6, 2015
4 of 5 stars (very good)
Casual hockey fans most likely do not know who Art Ross is. Some may know of him because of the name of the trophy that is given to the NHL player who has the most points at the end of the regular season. Others, especially who are knowledgeable about hockey history, may know that he was the general manager for the Boston Bruins in their formative years and made them the popular franchise that they still are today.
While this well-researched book by Eric Zweig covers those years when Ross built the Bruins, that was not the most interesting subject he writes about in this book. It covers the entire hockey career of Art Ross including his days as a player. The positions and game were not nearly as defined as they are today. His position was not really a forward and not really a defenseman. The style in which he played would be most like a defenseman in today’s game but he was not called one. That really didn’t matter as he was considered one of the best players in professional hockey during that era.
At that time, the NHL was not in existence. Instead, professional hockey was a hodge-podge of various teams and leagues. Ross played many of his seasons with the Montreal Wanderers, an appropriate team name for the time. The business side of the game was cutthroat as well, with player salaries soaring because they could often sell themselves to whomever would be willing to pay. If this sounds familiar, it is because this book illustrates the well-known fact that no matter which game or era, players always did whatever they could to get higher salaries and the owners would always do whatever it took to keep them down.
While Ross’s success in Boston is also well-researched, I found this part of the book not quite as interesting as his playing days. The Bruins’ seasons, both good and bad, are chronicled here and a reader will learn some interesting facts about Ross in this part, such as it was his idea to paint the center red line as a striped line so that it would be easier to distinguish it from the blue lines on a black– and–white television set.
Overall, this is a good book for readers interested in learning more about the early days of professional hockey and for a good insight of the game in the early 20th century. It may be a tougher read for more casual fans as it does dig deep into details of the games and later the front office moves. Hockey historians should make this one part of their libraries.
I wish to thank Mr. Zweig for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
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