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Sunday, 11 October 2009

TBC: Canadiens Legends

Teebz's Book Club rarely gets a chance to review books that cost more than $50, but today was different. I like paperbacks because they are easy to carry, can be taken almost anywhere, and are fairly lightweight. Today's book is not any of those. TBC is proud to present Canadiens Legends: Montreal's Hockey Heroes, written by Mike Leonetti and published by Raincoast Books. This hardcover book is easily twelve inches tall by ten inches long, making it more of a coffee table than a coffee table book. However, the contents of the book are simply astounding. The pictures, the writing, and the anecdotes are incredible, making it feel as though one was walking through a Montreal Canadiens' Hall of Fame rather than leafing through pages of a book. Let's take a look at this stunning and rich history of the Montreal Canadiens.

Mike Leonetti has written a number of hockey-centric books including Number Four, Bobby Orr!, My Leafs Sweater, and The Greatest Goal, the latter two of which have been written for younger readers. Mr. Leonetti lives in Woodbridge, Ontario, with his wife, Maria, and their son, David.

The opening of each chapter in this book gives a glimpse into the timeframe that is being examined. Once Mr. Leonetti has set the stage for the era, each page is dedicated to a Montreal Canadiens icon whose name should be instantly recognizable to hockey fans. A photo of the player is set as the background for each player's hockey biography, and the page contains a clear, concise photo of the player's face along with Mr. Leonetti's examination of the player. While I found that a page may have limited what could have been written for some players, Mr. Leonetti does a good job in bringing forth the important information on each player.

Mr. Leonetti goes through each era with a fine-toothed comb in bringing forth facts and historical significance of each player. Starting with the 1909-1939 era, he moves forward in covering 1940-1960, 1961-1973, 1974-1984, 1985-1995, and finishes in 1996-2004. Of course, as the eras move forward and photography becomes more and more prominent in everyday life, the rich tapestry of visual images increases. It's truly amazing to see some of the photos. Nearly 100 Canadiens players, coaches, and personalities are profiled within the book.

Mr. Leonetti features some notable guest writers in the book as well. The legendary Red Fisher weighs in on the Richard Riot - one of the most important hockey moments in history - and writes about Scotty Bowman. Dave Stubbs looks at the sometimes-nasty rivalry between the Canadiens and the Quebec Nordiques, and pens his thoughts on the closing of the Montreal Forum. Frank Orr discusses the New Year's Eve game against the Russian stars, and looks at the Canadiens' broadcasting voices in their history. And, in what might be the most personal part of the book, Canadiens legend Jean BĂ©liveau writes the foreword for this book.

The photos contained within the covers of the book come from a few different sources. The Hockey Hall of Fame, a fabulous source of hockey history, provides some of the photos. Others come from photographer Dennis Miles. Perhaps the largest portion come from the Harold Barkley archives whose collection features a wide-range of famous news and media photographers. Honestly, if pictures are your thing, this book is amazing. And just to tease you, there are over 300 photos for you to peruse.

If you know of a Montreal Canadiens fan, and if you may be looking for "the perfect gift"for this fan, this book would be a fabulous gift on its own. If combined with D'Arcy Jenish's The Montreal Canadiens: 100 Years of Glory, you would legitimately have the best gift for your Canadiens fanatic. Even if you're simply searching for a hockey gift for a hockey fan, one would have to be impressed by the history and photography in Canadiens Legends: Montreal's Hockey Heroes.

The Globe & Mail's review of the book stated that it is "[a]n admirable scrapbook that will hold the attention of any hockey fan ... No sensible fan should pass up a visit". I whole-heartedly agree with this statement.

Mr. Leonetti's Canadiens Legends: Montreal's Hockey Heroes is a well-written historical look at hockey's most storied franchise, and the pictures are absolutely amazing. Canadiens Legends: Montreal's Hockey Heroes is certainly worthy of Teebz's Book Club Seal of Approval, and I commend Mr. Leonetti for the excellent work he did in this book.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

1 comment:

Captain Canuck said...

now THAT'S a book I'd love to win ;)