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on August 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." When you dissect the NHL's policy on fighting by referencing three psychological theories of human behaviour as well as Monty Python's "Holy Grail" -- well, don't expect me to think you're really Big Bobby Clobber, all right?)
Among the most attractive parts of this book are his descriptions of his teammates. I was a very young hockey fan in the 1970's and we were Habs fans -- absolutely. The names in this book are magical ones to me, and my reaction to reading about them is proof enough of Dryden's remark that "things are never as good as in the old days -- and they never were." In other words, the players you admired as a child are ALWAYS the best. Ken Dryden in the 1970's was never as good as the players he admired in the 1950's, and don't try selling him any silly statistics to prove otherwise. (It's when Dryden writes as a fan that he's especially charming.)
Anyway, the pen-portraits he gives of his teammates alone make the book worth reading. Who knew Guy Lapointe was an incorrigible locker-room prankster? Still, written as it was at the twilight of Dryden's own career, "The Game" has a certain melancholy air in places. Guy Lafleur is clearly not going to be at the top of the league forever -- and then what? Rejean Houle is depicted as someone who has come to terms with himself and will be fine, but I have to admit that even twenty years later I was a little disturbed by the portrait of Larry Robinson. Dryden describes the beloved defenseman as self-doubting and possibly afraid that if he was too good at being the tough guy he would one day wake up and find himself slotted into being a goon instead of a player. He also indicates that in his efforts to remake himself into a more complete player, Robinson may have ended up selling himself short. It's not every day that you imagine Larry Robinson as a tragic figure but after reading this bit I really had to remind myself that at this point he probably does not need my sympathy! (On the other hand, considering that early in his head coaching career Robinson's major problem seems to have been being a little over-sensitive and almost pathologically conscientious, it's interesting to see that he was the same way as a player.)
The team as a group entity is remarkably likable: there is a certain innocence in their silly pranks and teasing. The Habs of the 70's were said to be a remarkably united team and Dryden offers no argument there: in the midst of the rise of the Parti Quebecois Dryden's claim that there was no "French-English problem" on the team rings true when he depicts even the anglophone players as cursing almost entirely in French (and it's oddly endearing.) Guys like "Shutty" and "Flower" and "Pointu" and "Bird" were Canadiens first, everything else after. Even the legendarily unpleasant Scotty Bowman is made a sympathetic character, which I am told is a feat in itself.
Once again, this is not simply a remarkable book about hockey. It's a remarkable book by a remarkable guy who happened to be a remarkable player on a team that was... well, you know the rest.
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on June 9, 2001
Ken Dryden has dared to tell us a warts and all account of a career in the NHL. As a hall of fame Goalie he was well postioned to observe the play of his team mates on the ice. Granted special status as the team's goalie he was then well place to observe the team off the ice too. He has written an honest account of the impact of long seasons of play both on himself and his team mates. Most revealing are his observations on specific players including Guy LaFleur, Bobby Orr and Larry Robinson. I wonder if his friendships with these men survived these opinions? Thoroughly recommended for all sports fans even non hockey fans.
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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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on November 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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The 1970s Montreal Canadiens were without question, one of the greatest sports teams ever. This book gives the reader a great feel, for the life the players lived throughout the 1970s. Dryden seems to take note about the smallest details. Dryden also outlines aspects of the games evolution. I did not know the forward pass was not allowed, in the early days of hockey. He discusses the great players of his childhood years, such as his hero Terry Sawchuk. Dryden then points out how the game has changed since the 1950s and 1960s. I also enjoyed his look into the Canada Russia Summit Series. I still regard the Montreal versus the Red Army 1975 New Years Eve game, as the best game I ever saw. Dryden brings back, all those great hockey memories. I also highly recommend the photo collection.
Over all, this book is a fun look into the world of hockey.
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on February 12, 2002
Ken Dryden, one of the NHL's best goalies, writes about his last year with the 1970's Canadiens, one of the greatest teams in NHL history. He provides more than a day by day account of playing but talks about other aspects of the game. From traveling to playing in his hometown to life as a celebrity and a Canadian, Dryden shows why he should be the Commissioenr of the NHL. If you have ever spent a summer in a rink, driven to a 6AM practice or know the words to "Oh, Canada." then "The Game " is for you.
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on October 8, 2014
Came in excellent condition by seller, even though listed only as 'Good'. Only way you could tell it was a used book is it had a sticker on the binding from a library or something that I peeled off. Very pleased. A+

The book is a gift so can't comment on content, but I am sure my husband will absolutely love it!
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on April 28, 2013
A very well written, sincere and accurate account of tthe Montreal hockey scene of the early 70s and lat 80s.
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on June 13, 2000
Ken Dryden has written was many would say as the greatest hockey book ever written. Written during the latter stages of his career he reflects and gives insights on some of the greatest hockey legends that we have ever seen - Scotty Bowman, Guy Lefleur, Steve Shutt, Bobby Orr and others. Any hockey fan would appreciate what he writes, something he does better than almost anyone else!
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on February 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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