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The Game [Hardcover]

Ken Dryden
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Aug. 28 2003
Widely acknowledged as the best hockey book ever written and lauded by Sports Illustrated as one of the Top 10 Sports Books of All Time, The Game is a reflective and thought-provoking look at a life in hockey. Intelligent and insightful, former Montreal Canadiens goalie and former President of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Ken Dryden captures the essence of the sport and what it means to all hockey fans. He gives us vivid and affectionate portraits of the characters — Guy Lafleur, Larry Robinson, Guy Lapointe, Serge Savard, and coach Scotty Bowman among them — that made the Canadiens of the 1970s one of the greatest hockey teams in history. But beyond that, Dryden reflects on life on the road, in the spotlight, and on the ice, offering up a rare inside look at the game of hockey and an incredible personal memoir. This commemorative edition marks the 20th anniversary of The Game's original publication. It includes black and white photography from the Hockey Hall of Fame and a new chapter from the author. Take a journey to the heart and soul of the game with this timeless hockey classic.

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An enduring classic, Ken Dryden's The Game has lost none of its luster since its original publication in 1983, and remains the one book every hockey fan must know. Imagine writing that combines the locker-room perspectives of Ball Four and the philosophical musings of both Bill and William James and you have some idea of the scope of The Game. At the height of his Hall of Fame career, goalie Dryden took a year off from the Montreal Canadiens to article for a law firm, and the sabbatical deepened his appreciation for hockey. The Game is funny, acutely observed, and full of insight into human nature and the importance of sport in today's society. Dryden's portraits of his teammates are precise and unforgettable. Catching the balance between banter and seriousness, Dryden describes Scotty Bowman's pep talks; Serge Savard motivating teammates; the river skater Lafleur, in uniform hours early, reappearing and startling everyone into focus with a whack of his stick on the table; Larry Robinson sensing the wrong atmosphere before a game against a weak opponent and resetting the stakes with the unanswerable remark, "Gotta play it--might as well win it."

Dryden also offers the best analysis anywhere of the contentious and eternally unresolved debate on violence in sport. Drawing on well-documented research he disproves the "violence as release" metaphor favored by hockey traditionalists, showing that violence is in fact a learned response and that deliberate abuse of the rules and constant retaliation only leads to more of the same, until the game deteriorates and the sport loses its best qualities. This backstage look at one of hockey's greatest teams remains one of the best books ever published on any sport. --David Gowdey


"The sports book of the year, or maybe the decade, or maybe the century."

—The Globe and Mail

"A work of art that defines and represents our game."

—Hockey News

"[Dryden] has written a very special book, possibly the best [hockey book] I have ever read. His affectionate yet realistic portrait of the players is unrivalled in hockey writing."

—Mordecai Richler

The Game has lost none of its luster since its original publication in 1983, and remains the one book every hockey fan must know….This backstage look at one of hockey’s greatest teams remains one of the best books ever published on any sport."

—David Gowdey

"An enduring classic, Ken Dryden's The Game has lost none of its luster since its original publication in 1983, and remains the one book every hockey fan must know...This backstage look at one of the best books ever published on any sport."

—David Gowdey

Sports Illustrated: One of "The Top 100 Best Sports Books of All Time" (number nine).

· Top hockey book.

· Top Canadian sports book.

· Top book written solely by an athlete.

University of Toronto Review: One of "The Top 100 English-Canadian Books of the 20th Century."

Named by Sports Illustrated in 2002 as one of the Top Ten in "The Top 100 Best Sports Books of All Time." It was the number-one hockey book on the list.

#9: "Hall of Fame goalie Ken Dryden was always different. A Cornell grad, he led Montreal to six Stanley Cups, then at 26 sat out a year to prepare for the bar exam. His book is different too: a well-crafted account of his career combined with a meditation on hockey’s special place in Canadian culture."

"The best hockey book ever written."

—Quill & Quire

"If you haven’t seen hockey through Dryden’s eyes, you should."

—The Toronto Sun

"A [hockey] book so rare that there is actually nothing to compare it to."

—Scott Young

"A first-rate discussion of hockey by one of hockey’s first-rate players and first-rate minds….Essential reading for anyone serious about hockey as an important part of Canadian life."

—Hamilton Spectator

"The Game is a beautifully written, insightful, perceptive, revealing look at hockey."

—Toronto Star

"A book about Ken Dryden, about Quebec, about the rest of Canada, and most of all, a loving book about a special sport."

—New York Times

"We always wondered what he was thinking about whenever the play stopped and he struck his characteristic pose resting his chin on his goal stick. Now we know. He was composing one of the best hockey books ever written….There is a ‘you are there’ quality to the prose as the author-goalie lets you see everything through his eyes, spicing his vivid descriptions with personal reflections and observations….The Game succeeds both as an inside look at hockey and a portrait of an articulate athlete who knew when to quit."

—Winnipeg Free Press

"The Game is a brilliant adventure into ourselves. It makes all other books about the sport look preliminary."

—Calgary Herald

"The best Canadian sports book in years."

—Calgary Sun

"An incredible memoir, a poetic journey through the life of Les Canadiens. It rises above being just a book about hockey. It’s a book about people, the fragile, delicate moments on the edge of fame and glory, failure and disillusionment. Dryden’s The Game is the complete hockey book."

—Windsor Star

"As Dryden reminisces, we are presented with a portrait, in broad and vivid strokes, of the players who comprised the best team in professional hockey….All the ingredients of a winner."

—Victoria Times-Colonist

"No one has ever delivered an account of our national sport as deep as this. On a scale of 1 to 10, give the guy his sweater number—29."

—Regina Leader-Post

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
This book was lived and researched over twenty-five years, thought about consciously on and off for at least the last five of those years, and finally written. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An extraordinary look at the game Aug. 13 2000
Calling this "the best book ever written about hockey" somehow does not do this work justice. Ken Dryden was one of the best goalies of his time, on one of the greatest teams of all time, and yet this portrayal of a year in the life of that team is much more than "team wins hockey games, gets Stanley Cup." In fact, unless you know what happened in 1979 you may miss that fact. What Dryden aims to do with this book is far more ambitious than to simply describe his last year in the NHL. He wants to discuss the meaning of hockey in the context of his own life as well as that of his country. If this seems a little ambitious, well it is. But Dryden is certainly up to the task.
Written in what amounts to a modified stream-of-consciousness, there are many digressions as Dryden wanders away from descriptions of game days to talk about his early career, the origins of the game, and what it means to Canadians. It's not hard to follow this, but you do have to pay attention. The thing that struck me most was that, while Dryden the author is articulate, thoughtful, and clearly smarter than the average bear, he describes "Ken Dryden the goalie" as a bit of a goof, the last to get locker room jokes, the guy who falls for pranks, who makes himself the target of other, quicker minds. Dryden clearly feels no need to make himself look good to the reading public and when he dissects his playing ability you get the impression that he's being totally honest: he's a Hall of Fame goalie who wishes he could have been just a little better.
(On the other hand, while I agree that popular culture creates images of athletes that they often cannot live up to, I balk at Dryden's insistence that "people think I am smarter than I am, because of this image.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More than just hockey May 29 2004
I read this book expecting to read the standard sports book, what I found was a book that was not only about hockey but about life. Even those who are not hardcore hockey fans can appreciate many of the messages and opinions on life.
From the beginning to the end I was caught in the words, it made me think and feel. Reading The Game somehow enriched my life, and I recommend it to all. Ken Dryden was not your average hockey player, he was an intelligent man who will always be known as the man who wrote the greatest book about the game of hockey.
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4.0 out of 5 stars interesting April 28 2013
By Dany
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A very well written, sincere and accurate account of tthe Montreal hockey scene of the early 70s and lat 80s.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Thought I would like it better April 20 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have not been able to get through the whole book ... but I will. It is well written and the subject matter is revealing but somehow I was expecting something else I guess.
So, its OK but not great for me.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Do not buy this new. Feb. 22 2013
You will find 3 or 4 hard copies of this book at pretty much every church booksale, flea market or thrift shop in Canada (there is a reason for that). Can be had for between 50 cents and a buck. I made the mistake of not saving the buck. This book is very overrated and extremely dull for the genre. This book was simply written as an ego boost for Ken Dryden (and I liked the 70's Canadians). Im not saying it isnt well written, it is, I guess you could say it is gramatically correct written in proper english, rated G, and flows well enough for anyone to read. Unfortunately, Its boring and has been far surpassed entertainmentwise by pretty much every soprts autobiography/biography ever written after 1981. Take the example of Bob Probert's book 'Tough Guy', It is in his words (Im sure gramatically cleaned up by the co-author), in a million years I would not say Bob Probert is a better writer than Ken Dryden, however, his book is far more entertaining and compelling than 'The Game'. This is a hockey book written for book critics, not hockey fans. Its like being given the choice to see the movie "Terminator 2" or "Dead Poets Society" 100 out of 100 film critics will tell you to see Dead Poets, however 100 out of 100 actual PAYING patrons of the cinema would tell you to see Arnold. Generally when old athletes are interviewed today, you hear some pretty wild stories of their playing days, none would be found in this book. My advice to anyone thinking about this book is look at themselves know who you are, are you a book critic or Hockey Fan.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read this for lessons on life Nov. 10 2003
Went to Barnes & Noble and read the new chapter in the 20th Anniversary edition of The Game. Ken Dryden is an outstanding writer. People might assume that since he is writing about hockey that's all that there is to this book. Lies! It is about so much more. His take on life is very refreshing. This is one of the few books that I really enjoyed reading recently.
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