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Gretzky's Tears: Hockey, Canada, and the Day Everything Changed Hardcover – Oct 6 2009

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Canada; 1st Edition edition (Oct. 6 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307397297
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307397294
  • Product Dimensions: 15.8 x 2.5 x 23.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 431 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #298,056 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description



"Brunt captures the feelings of shock and betrayal set off by The Trade better than anything I've ever read. Long the consensus pick as Canada's best sportswriter, Brunt has probably earned the right to be called one of our best writers, period."
The Gazette

"Gretzky's Tears is as penetrating a book, and as sure in its navigation of hockey's cultural currents, [as Searching for Bobby Orr]."
— The Globe and Mail

"If there's a more interesting and committed sports writer in Canada than Stephen Brunt, I don't know them."
— Dave Bidini, National Post

About the Author

Stephen Brunt is Canada’s premier sportswriter and commentator. In addition to Searching for Bobby Orr, he is also the author of Facing Ali: The Opposition Weighs In, and of The Way It Looks from Here: Contemporary Canadian Writing on Sports. He lives in Hamilton, Ontario, and in Winterhouse Brook, Newfoundland.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Tony C. on Dec 6 2009
Format: Hardcover
Stephen Brunt is an excellent writer and this book is well worth the read.

Stephen steps us through the past 30 years of the NHL as seen through the career of the greatest hockey player of that era. He provides us with the most relevant facts that shaped not only the career of Wayne Gretzky but also the decisions of people around him that shaped the league to what it is today. A thoroughly enjoyable read that is laced with well documented and very interesting behind the scenes information.

Unfortunately the ending is a bit anticlimactic, but in a sense I guess it mirrors the career of the player. For all the glory that Wayne has achieved in his illustrious life in hockey, Stephen has shown that from the time he turned pro it was always about the money. His close relationship with the owners of his teams (Pocklington and McNall) is well documented and it is evident that it did shape him as the person he is outside the rink.

It was his mother and father that instilled a true sense of Canadian humility and an honest love of the game of hockey that endeared him to all Canadians but it was Pocklington and McNall who introduced him to capitalistic greed. It is rather ironic that one could have diametrically opposite role models in one's life. Although Stephen does not say it, this can be seen as the real reason for Gretzky's Tears.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Pete on Oct. 30 2009
Format: Hardcover
Stephen Brunt is the David Halberstam of Canadian sports writers. It's hard to read most other hockey books after you read one from Brunt. He must know that his work is really good, yet he is also humble.

Just read this book and see for yourself.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By H. Hastings on Jan. 3 2010
Format: Hardcover
It's always hard to think of a gift for family living in another province. This was an ideal gift as it can be shared by the whole family!
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Barry A. Hawse on Nov. 16 2009
Format: Hardcover
Tried a few times to get into this book but did not find it easy. There is too much background detail to process for the topic.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 2 reviews
A really big deal Dec 27 2014
By WDX2BB - Published on
Format: Hardcover
It would be a small overstatement to say that you really have to be Canadian to understand what the 1988 trade of Wayne Gretzky by the Edmonton Oilers to the Los Angeles Kings really meant. It would not be an overstatement to say that the deal was the biggest trade in hockey history, the equivalent of Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees.

Luckily, we have Stephen Brunt's fine book on the subject, "Gretzky's Tears," to fill the American audience in on such matters. Brunt, a Toronto writer who has written other good books, takes a look at the many circumstances and repercussions of the transaction. It really does take a Canadian to put it all into perspective. (There is a Canadian edition of the book with a slightly different subtitle.)

When the deal was made, Canada's hockey fans had something of a collective nervous breakdown. This was, after all, the greatest player in the game, The Great One and The Next One. It seemed he was destined for greatness from childhood (see Woods, Tiger), and fulfilled every prophecy given to him. He smashed virtually every offensive record in the book and led the Edmonton Oilers to a string of Stanley Cups. And he emerged from relatively tiny Brantford, Ontario, showing that athletic genius can sprout from anywhere (ask Larry Bird and French Lick, Indiana, about that).

But the Gretzky trade, essentially for $15 million in cash but with bodies thrown in to make it look better in a hockey sense, turned out to be the end of the first act of Gretzky's NHL career. The second act was much less satisfying, with no championships and two other stops besides Los Angeles (tellingly both American, St. Louis and New York) before retirement beckoned. For Canada, a country that has justifiable difficulties coping with the massive neighbor to the south that scoops up everything it seeks, taking a national treasure like Gretzky was almost too much to take.

Brunt talked to several of the principals in the transaction, while taking quotes from others, like Gretzky, who often have talked in public about it. There are all sorts of nice little details added to the story here. No one here comes out completely cleanly, including Gretzky, although Kings' owner Bruce McNall and Oilers' owner Peter Pocklington take most of the abuse for the slightly shady circumstances of the deal. Honesty was a frequent casualty in the entire episode.

Most of the book is spent leading up to the trade itself, and that's the best part. From there, Brunt makes the case that McNall's plan (embraced by the NHL as a whole) to bring hockey to new areas and expand its reach into the U.S., regardless of their familiarity with the sport (see Florida, Phoenix, etc.) changed the game drastically. Suddenly teams had to move from small Canadian cities such as Quebec City and Winnipeg; the economics didn't make sense there any more, even if teams in the new locations rarely made much money. (To be fair, Quebec landed in Denver, where it has done fine. But a lot of NHL money has been lost on teams in the Sunbelt.) It's a good point by the author, but one that doesn't feel completely explained -- the story feels a little rushed during those pages. A little more information on that area of discussion might have been helpful.

In the end, Gretzky was left coaching a team in Phoenix that had no success, that had so few cared about that bankruptcy arrived during his tenure. The Great One left quietly in the midst of the court battle in late summer and has kept a very low profile in the meantime.

American hockey fans no doubt will enjoy "Gretzky's Tears" thoroughly. Canadian hockey fans will devour it.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Gretzky's Tear Dec 27 2011
By Elizabeth18 - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book was in great condition when i received it. It arrived in a timely manner and I was very happy with my purchase.