Yesterday I did something that I haven’t done in nearly 20 years. I attended a National Hockey League game. It was a contest between the hometown Minnesota Wild and the visiting Montreal Canadiens, and the tickets were a gift from my lovely fiancée, who I think was getting tired of me whining about never having seen a Minnesota Wild game.
I hadn’t seen a professional hockey game for so long not because I don’t like hockey, although truth be told it’s the one sport I haven’t played due to my inability to put on skates and not endure painful, repetitive interactions between the ice and my backside. I actually think hockey is probably the most exciting sport to watch live in person, an opinion that was reinforced after spending a few hours at the arena last night, despite the 8-1 drubbing my team took. My two decade absence from a professional hockey game is more due to the fact that, when it comes to hockey, Minnesota is more province than state, as its citizens have the same fervor for the game as our neighbors to the north in Canada. Hockey tickets in Minnesota can be hard to come by (until this fall, the Wild sold out 409 straight games – roughly 10 years of home games, an NHL record) and expensive (with an average ticket price of over $60).
Naturally, I wanted to be prepared to really savor the experience of the game, since I didn’t know when I’d have another chance to see one in person. So to prepare for the game, I faced off with a pile of recently released hockey books in an effort to bone up on my hockey expertise. Many of the books I read would make wonderful selections to delight the puck fanatics who use your library.
Of course, team books, particularly those showcasing local teams, fly off the shelves regardless of the sport. Two wonderful series that have been published in recent years come from Child’s World Publishing and Creative Education. The Favorite Hockey Teams series from Child’s World is perfect for lower and middle elementary grades. Great layouts, manageable text blocks, and well-selected glossary terms and pronunciation guides provide the framework for a variety of interesting facts about the team and its history, as well as about the rules and culture of the sport itself. Eight of the most popular and celebrated teams are profiled.
Written at an upper elementary to middle school level, Creative Education’s The NHL: History & Heroes series showcases amazing photography, fascinating inset features, and a compelling narrative that will surely capture the young fans of the nine teams profiled.
Everything you could ever want to know about the NHL can be found in the 5th edition of The Official Illustrated NHL History : The Official Story of the Coolest Game on Earth. Updated through last season’s Stanley Cup Championship, this newest edition from Carlton Books breaks the game down by decades and is full of vivid descriptions of memorable games and personalities. Especially impressive are the massive lists of chronologies and statistics at the end of the book.
Sports Illustrated : The Hockey Book is a similarly magnificent work. This coffee table book is chocked with full-color photo spreads and hockey-related articles from past issues of sports’ most famous magazine. It is absolutely stunning. While both of these works are directed towards general readers, they should easily be suitable for upper middle-school and high school readers who are fascinated with the game of hockey as well.
Naturally, no hockey collection could be complete without a few books about the fundamentals of playing hockey as well. One book which I found absolutely fantastic was Ron Davidson’s Play Better Hockey : 50 Essential Skills for Player Development. Davidson, a former player and coach, and now the director of a hockey camp, is the perfect instructor for players looking to improve on a wide range of hockey skills, including passing, shooting, and of course the one I could really benefit from, skating. The book’s illustrations are wonderful for demonstrating the specific tips in the book, and the use of photographs of today’s best stars demonstrating these skills are well-placed and exciting for fans. Play Better Hockey is published by Firefly Books and could be utilized by players at the middle school level and above.
Guest Blogger: Jason S
Montreal Canadiens (Favorite Hockey Teams). Craig Zeichner. 2011.
Story of the Minnesota Wild (The NHL : History and Heroes). Lisa M. Bolt Simons. 2009.
The Official Illustrated NHL History : The Official Story of the Coolest Game on Earth. Arthur Pincus, with David Rosner, Len Hochberg and Chris Malcolm. 2010.
Sports Illustrated : The Hockey Book. 2010.
Play Better Hockey : 50 Essential Skills for Player Development. Ron Davidson. 2010.