“Blue Lines Goal Lines and Bottom Lines: Hockey Contracts and Historical Documents from the Collection of Allan Stitt” by Greg Oliver
Ice Hockey, professional, history, documents
September 13, 2016
5 of 5 stars (outstanding)
Having received letters from sports figures in the past, I know that those can bring joy and can also be something that is kept for a long time. Now imagine getting hundreds of these documents – not just letters, but signed contracts of players, correspondence between management and players and other such documents.
Collector Allan Stitt was gracious enough to share some of his most treasured hockey documents with hockey writer Greg Oliver. The result is a terrific work that no matter what era of the sport the reader enjoyed the most, there will be some documents that will be a treat to not only look at in the book but also read the accompanying story.
The first document illustrated is one that any collector would love to obtain – the first professional contract signed by Wayne Gretzky with the Indianapolis Racers of the World Hockey Association in 1978. Not only was it a treat to see this contract, the accompanying story of the contract signing and subsequent move by Gretzky to Edmonton when Indianapolis was struggling financially was an excellent write-up to go with the illustration of the document.
There is a wide variety of teams, eras and types of documents illustrated and written about in the book. As mentioned earlier, no matter one’s preference, there is certain to be something that will make the reader happy. As an example, my favorite hockey team of all time is the Minnesota North Stars. There are many letters to players and other team executives from Wren Blair, a longtime general manager. There is documentation on defenseman Fred Barret and his injury problems. However, my favorite document in the book is the one where Lou Nanne signs his own retirement papers in 1978 when the team wanted him to retire as a player so he could assume the coaching and general manager responsibilities. While these are from the expansion era, there are also plenty of documents and stories on the Original Six era and those teams as well, so hockey historians will enjoy reading about some of the greats on those teams as well.
It should be noted that there were some problems with the advance review copy of the electronic book in the images of some of the documents. I was able to piece them together when the images were broken up into smaller segments to fit the e-reader screen. For that reason, it is recommended that interested readers purchase the hardcover version when it is published as the full pictures of the documents will be visible. This review was written with that in mind and the documents and writing were reviewed based on the information available in the copy provided.
Every hockey fan should seriously consider adding this book to his or her library. The documents are wonderful, the accompanying stories interesting and full of information, and it is one that can be shared with all hockey fans.
I wish to thank ECW Press for providing a copy of the book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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