Wednesday, November 7, 2007

BOOK: Hockey Dreams by David Adams Richards

Hockey Dreams by David Adams Richards
Memories of a Man Who Couldn't Play
New Brunswick book for the Canadian Book Challenge
When I started this book, all about Canada and hockey, while a good choice obviously for the Canadian Book Challenge, I wasn't sure how much it would be about New Brunswick. I am hoping that most of the books that I read by province evoke a sense of the province as well as a good story. This book is actually several books in one: history and role of hockey over the last fifty years, how Canadians identify with hockey, and finally, the author's memories growing up on the Miramichi River, playing hockey. It certainly gave me a feel for growing up in the Miramichi.
This was a touching and patriotic read. I may have to get this for my husband for Christmas - he grew up in a small village, playing hockey on natural ice, and Richards' stories of playing hockey as a youngster remind me somewhat of my husband and his brother's stories. Richards recalls that during talk of expansion in the sixties, he assumed that Newcastle would be a logical spot for a new franchise. When he was young, my husband thought his father's old-timer league was the step below the NHL. So I could definitely identify with most of what Richards wrote; I think many Canadians could.
There are reminisces of a lot of international hockey, of course including Henderson's goal and the 1972 series with the Russians. I certainly haven't thought so much about the Canadian identity and hockey as in depth as he has, but I know that there are others who also have looked into it. I would love to read a Richards' article after the Salt Lake City Olympics, when we finally iced the best hockey players in the world, male and female. He must have been over the moon. Picture Gretzsky
And although the book is filled with hockey analysis, it is the memoir parts, his childhood that is the strong part of the book. Life in a small town Canada during the 1950s and 60s, and the characters that filled his life made for a wonderful read. I wondered what happened to Stafford, why Paul didn't make the NHL, where Michael and Tobias went, and who survived. So many pivotal points in his life are connected to hockey games, and he remembers where he was and who he was with. Even games on the river he can reconstruct with precision, which I know from experience, is believable, play by play. Hockey players really remember every part of every game they ever played.
I really enjoyed this book, and think any Canadian who likes hockey, (you can't be a hockey snob or you'll be offended or maybe you just won't get it), would like to read this. Richards writing is readable, and he travels back and forth in time, connecting events and memories, all under a layer of hockey. Go Leafs!


  1. I love hockey. The book sounds pretty neat. Go Red Wings!

  2. I read this a while ago and didn't enjoy it. I've always been indifferent to the game, not really into it myself but appreciative of the role it's played in Canadian culture. Richards seemed to imply that if I didn't enjoy the sport I was a snob and must be determined to get rid of it all together. Not so (my son would never forgive me!) I was also thrown off by all the flashbacks and flashforwards. Oh well. Glad you enjoyed it. (Go Sens!)

  3. myutopia - if you like hockey you'd enjoy it.

    john - the forward and backs were a bit confusing, and he certainly implied snobbery on many people. The Sens are looking pretty good


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