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5.0 out of 5 stars An amazingly apt portrait to a homesick Canadian...,
Especial highlights are the early sections discussing small-town Saskatchewan and the importance of the rink in drawing the community together; the stories of particular players with NHL dreams; and the memories of members of Team Canada during the 1972 Summit Series. Phil Esposito, the heart of that team, is not surprisingly the guy with the best stories about what it all meant. The following section about Soviet hockey, which elevates the faceless Russkies into real guys and fellow players, is almost enough to make a Canadian root for them. (Almost.) And the writers' take on their own recreational play, and what it means to them, is illuminating and sort of touching. Once again, as in "The Game," Ken Dryden manages to depict himself as an amazingly inept Hall of Famer, always panicking under pressure and getting in the way of his defensemen -- "I could talk and chew gum at the same time, but breathing did me in." There's no false modesty here, the reader gets the impression that Dryden held himself to impossibly high standards. Still, when he explains that he now plays defense because he has fulfilled his goalie fantasies, and playing defense allows him to have new ones, it's nice to know he still enjoys the game. (And I have to admit, I howled when I got to his dry remark on playing defense and who's responsible when a goal is scored: "I've changed my mind -- it IS always the goalie's fault.")
The photos that decorate this book are equally beautiful, from the prairie kids playing on a frozen slough to the professionals displaying their remarkable ability to a member of Team Canada (1972) jumping for joy as a Russian player offers a wry yet respectful salute. The photos are grouped according to section and I find it telling that the only photo of Dryden as a Montreal Canadien is one of him and a bunch of his teammates grinning in delight at having apparently won some kind of inter-squad scrimmage trophy. This photo is grouped with the recreational player section and tells an enormous amount about how Dryden felt about the game even as a professional.
Dryden and MacGregor describe Canada as "an improbable country," and they mean that in a good way. What holds us together as a nation are the bonds we have made among ourselves, and hockey is one of those bonds. I was reminded of that this year during the Stanley Cup playoffs, when a mailing list I subscribed to for the CBC news reminded subscribers of schedule changes because "there's hockey tonight." I hadn't watched much hockey in years but somehow, living in Texas surrounded by US culture, it felt like home to watch Larry Robinson hoist the Cup once again.
These are two great hockey writers, and they have produced a book that, even ten years later, is a joy.
5.0 out of 5 stars this book is great,
5.0 out of 5 stars Read this book if you want to start understanding Canada,
5.0 out of 5 stars The soul of Canada exemplified,
5.0 out of 5 stars To understand Canada you must first understand hockey,
"Home Game" tries to explain how important hockey is to Canada and Canadians, but it can't. Nothing can. Hockey is so much a part of the Canadian identity that there can never be a sufficient explanation of it's importance.
We Americans believe that baseball is our national pasttime, and that it is an integral part of our heritage and the growth of our country. But, compared to the role hockey has in the structure of Canada, baseball is merely a lame hobby that Americans play at now and again.
This book, while about a sport, really delves into the soul of a country that has long been seen from outside as not having an identity -- except for cops in red jackets and funny hats, a couple of losers wearing touques and saying "take off, eh?", and big, dumb guys with bad french accents. It gives a glimpse of how the greatest game in the world really defines the collective culture and shared make-up of a nation. Every aspect of Canadian life, whether in major cities like Toronto or small communities like Medicine Hat, is infused by hockey, and similarly the nature of the game is shaped by places like Quebec City and Moosejaw.
To say it is a must for any hockey fan is a gross understatement. The real strength of "Home Game" is how it can make the reader get at least a small understanding of the game, the players, and the country on a gut level.
5.0 out of 5 stars a real hockey education,
Dryden starts off trying to demonstrate the importance of hockey to Canada. He shows just how much the game means to all kinds of people.
The best section is when he focuses on one game between the Habs and the Oilers. He goes into great detail about what happens throughout the day leading up to the game, the lockerroom talks, and the game itself. As a Dallas Stars fan, I like seeing him focus on Bob Gainey, Guy Carbonneau, Craig Ludwig, and others.
Dryden then tells the tales of what the series between Canada and the Soviet Union of 72 meant to both nations. You get great background on the Russian hockey program and how different it was.
You get to read the book through the perspective of someone who has been there and someone who cherishes the game. It is very well written and should be on the shelf of every hockey fan.
5.0 out of 5 stars An engrossing intellectual exercise,
By A Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful narrative on hockey and life in general in Canada.,
By A Customer
What's the difference between Canadians and Americans?
Canadians think there's a difference between Canadians and Americans.
As an American, I thought, tongue-in-cheek, that there wasn't really any difference between us and our neighbors to the north. Well, of course they have funny colored money, speak two languages, and say 'aboot' instead of about. But essentially we are the same.
Oh yeah, they have a strange fascination - obsession - with the sport of hockey. However, to know why hockey is so much at the heart of Canada and it's people is to appreciate that they aren't 'just like us'. That is the purpose of _Home Game_, by Ken Dryden and Roy MacGregor.
Dryden, a former goalie of the Montreal Canadiens and numerous Canadian National teams, along with MacGregor do this wonderfully. His broad sweep is both sociological and poetic, as he tries not to just explain, but also to convey, through his words, how much Canada relies on hockey to maintain it's identity.
The stories range from a father using the hose on a cold winters day to create a young son's ice 'arena', to the mega-bucks dealings that would send National icon Wayne Gretzky to Los Angeles. It is a hockey book and more. A wonderfully emotional piece, Canada will never seem 'just like us' after reading this book.
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Home Game: Hockey and Life in Canada by Roy MacGregor (Paperback - Aug. 1 2006)
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