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A Great Game: The Forgotten Leafs & the Rise of Professional Hockey [Hardcover]

Stephen J. Harper
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 34.99
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Book Description

Nov. 5 2013

Drawing on extensive archival records and illustrations, histories of the sport, and newspaper files, Canada’s Prime Minister delves into the fascinating early years of ice hockey.

In the tumultuous beginnings of hockey, the fights were as much off the ice as on it. This engaging new book is about the hockey heroes and hard-boiled businessmen who built the game, and the rise and fall of legendary teams pursuing the Stanley Cup. With a historian’s perspective and fan’s passion, Stephen Harper presents a riveting and often-surprising portrait, capturing everything from the physical contests on the rinks to the battles behind the scenes and the changing social conventions of the twentieth century.

A Great Game shows that many things have stayed the same. Rough play, fervent hometown loyalties, owner-player contract disputes, dubious news coverage, and big money were issues from the get-go. Most important in these early years was the question: Was hockey to be a game of obsessed amateurs playing for the love of the sport, or was it a game for paid professionals who would give fans what they wanted? Who should be responsible for the sport – including its bouts of violence – both on and off the ice?

A century ago, rinks could melt, and by half time the blades screwed to the players’ shoes could be sinking in mud. It was during this time that teams such as the Toronto Professionals of 1908 and the Toronto Blue Shirts of 1914 took turns battling for the city’s very first Stanley Cup. Against the fanatical opposition of amateur hockey leaders, these “forgotten Leafs” would lay the groundwork for the world’s most profitable hockey franchise.

In paying tribute to these hockey pioneers and the contagious loyalty of their fans, Harper resurrects the history of hockey’s first decades. Lavishly illustrated with photographs of the game’s greatest arenas and earliest star players, this entertaining and original book will captivate you from start to finish.

Frequently Bought Together

A Great Game: The Forgotten Leafs & the Rise of Professional Hockey + Orr: My Story + An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth
Price For All Three: CDN$ 62.06

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Product Details

Product Description


"An illustration of hockey's special place in the Canadian heart and mind...Harper has written a finely detailed history of the struggle between professionalism and amateurism in early 20th-century Ontario hockey...It includes insightful examinations of class and religion and the roles they played in a country that still saw itself as a pillar of the British Empire, all viewed through the prism of hockey at the dawn of the pro era." (The New York Times)

"...the Prime Minister does a good job of taking you back to the country, and the time, that gave birth to the national game." (Globe and Mail)

A Great Game is a "...readable and entertaining historical exposition of the early organizational days of Canada's most beloved sport...[Harper is] an unreconstructed sentimentalist about hockey. He romances the game, focusing on its sepia-toned infancy." (Toronto Star)

About the Author

Like millions of other Canadians, Stephen Harper developed his love for hockey at a young age as he played at the arenas and on the shinny rinks and roads of his hometown. Today, long retired from his on-ice “career” with the Leaside Lions, he is the 22nd Prime Minister of Canada and is happily married to Laureen, who, with their children Ben and Rachel, live in Calgary and Ottawa.

A member of the Society of International Hockey Research with a particular interest in the early decades of the game, Mr. Harper is an amateur historian interested in exploring the sport’s impact on the people and places that define Canada.

A Great Game is his first published work on the game of hockey.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Interesting May 7 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Very Interesting and informative on the history of early hockey mostly the Maple Leafs, Easy to tell there was much research prior to writing.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Early Ice-hockey April 1 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A serious but very readable look at the game as played in the early 20th century.
Well worth reading for the surprising facts about the evolution of the rules.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Hockey Book March 20 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Bought this for my husband for Christmas. Stephen Harper has done his homework on this book, lots of history on the game of hockey. Husband enjoyed & recommends this book....and he is a fussy reader.
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15 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A trye Hockey Historian written book! Nov. 21 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A Great Game: The Forgotten Leafs and the Rise of Professional Hockey is chalked full of long forgotten facts about Canada's great game! Definitely a great gift for the holidays. And it's not just for Leafs fans, anyone who loves the game, should read this one!
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15 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars reignite a love for hockey Nov. 12 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A great book which will remind you why we love hockey.
I received the book yesterday, and i finished it before falling asleep.
waiting for Mr. Harper's next book.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars nice gift for hockey buffs. Dec 27 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Was a gift so not sure if they liked it or not. Was exactly what I order and next day delivery was great. Looked like a good product for the hockey buffs.
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8 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hockey Nov. 29 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Thirteen chapters of pure hockey,this book helped me in my journey from not understanding anything to enjoying hours of hockey game.I couldn't be a true Canadian if i did not watch hockey and this book gets the credit for both.It is an excellent book and the author deserves a special thank you and a place of pride for bringing this book into this world.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful read. Jan. 17 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
have known this book had taken roughly nine years to complete and our Prime Minister is nothing but thorough in his hockey sense and the proceeds of the sale of this book are given to our Canadian Troops who are in need of assistance.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars they really liked it!
Was a gift ...they really liked it!!
Published 3 months ago by Krystal Boyd
5.0 out of 5 stars A decent little history book
Weird that this was written by our ridiculous PM. Who knew being PM could afford you enough extra time on your hands? What does that mean for our current government? Hmmm. Read more
Published 7 months ago by LiLiDNM
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting book
This book is easy to read and it has a lot of interesting and valuable photos. It is a good history book on Canadian hockey game.
Published 8 months ago by Annie S Y Yu
5.0 out of 5 stars Hockey!
I f you like the game of hockey you will like this well written history. There are many facts covered in this book that I did not know.
Published 9 months ago by Ken in Sask
4.0 out of 5 stars History of hockey
Good book, bought as a christmas present for my husband, and he said that he enjoyed reading this book. Thanks
Published 9 months ago by liz
5.0 out of 5 stars Great!!
I bought this book for my husband for Christmas. He tells me the book is excellent. It reminds him of the way it use to be played and how dangerous the game has become. Read more
Published 9 months ago by lyndie
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy it for a great cause and enjoy it for a great read
Our Prime Minister has demonstrated his writing talent in this labour of love for his team and for the sport that we Canadians hold so dear. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Juergen Schmidt
5.0 out of 5 stars Prime Minister's book on hockey
He took his time and did his research. Many things for hockey fans to learn! Great for any Leaf fan!
Published 9 months ago by Richard W Rider
4.0 out of 5 stars well researched and interestingly written
read it in a short time. very interesting for any hockey fan. was about an era that is seldom written about in most hockey books. Read more
Published 9 months ago by paul crawford
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