“The ‘Down Goes Brown’ History of the NHL: the World’s Most Beautiful Sport, the World’s Most Ridiculous League” written and narrated by Sean McIndoe
Ice Hockey, humor, professional, history
October 30, 2018
5 of 5 stars (outstanding)
Having just recently celebrated its 100th anniversary, the National Hockey League (NHL) has had an interesting and colorful history. Sean McIndoe, also known as “Down Goes Brown” with his popular hockey blog, writes and narrates an excellent book on this history, highlighting some of the more strange moments.
While the book follows the history of the league in a chronological format, that is about the only thing that is “regular” about this book. Sure, the reader will learn about the origins of the league and how it began with four teams, nearly folded when it was down to three, the Original Six era (which nearly became the Original Seven in the early 1950’s when the league nearly added the Cleveland Barons), the Great Expansion of 1967 and the future expansions to the current league of 31 teams.
There is also mention of equipment, great players of each era, the styles of play from the wide open offenses of the 1980’s to the trap defensive style made popular by the surprise Stanley Cup championship of the New Jersey Devils in 1995. BUT…and this is a big BUT…this type of writing is not what sets this book apart from the rest.
What DOES make it memorable and one that every hockey fan should read, whether or not they know about “Down Goes Brown”, are the quirky stories that fill every chapter and also serve as a segue between each chapter. Most likely, many fans have not heard about these occurrences or near-occurrences in the league’s history. One of my favorites occurred in 1970 when two new teams, the Buffalo Sabres and Vancouver Canucks, entered the league. One of them would be able to get the first pick in the entry draft. The best player in the draft that year was Gilbert Perrault by far and away. So, to try to be fair, the league decided to use a wheel with various numbered slots to determine which team gets the pick – each team had an equal number of slots. But how to determine who spins? Well, that was easy – flip a coin. Now, you may ask, why didn’t they just use that coin flip for the pick? As the book notes time and time again, this is the NHL – they don’t do anything the easy way. For the record, the Sabres won the pick and Perrault enjoyed a Hall of Fame career playing 18 seasons in Buffalo.
This was just one of the many crazy stories told with humor (mostly – the discussion on the violence in the sport certainly was not). For a funny line, try this on for size – but first a little background. In 1984, the Montreal Canadiens and Quebec Noridques had a huge brawl that became known as the Good Friday Massacre. Then in 1991, the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues had a similar melee known as the St. Patrick’s Day Massacre. They got their monikers because of the holidays on which these took place. McIndoe wrote the “The NHL – the only sport where you make reference to a holiday-themed massacre and you have to ask to be more specific.”
This book is a must-read for all hockey fans no matter their interest level or their favorite teams or eras. Very entertaining, very easy to read and informative as well, it is one that is sure to be added to many hockey libraries.
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