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Monday, 18 August 2014

TBC: Forgotten Heroes

If you've been visiting this blog from time to time, you're probably aware that I get giddy when it comes to great hockey history. I'm a huge fan of taking glimpses into the game's past, and I normally find something awesome buried in the black-and-white remnants of the game. Today, though, Teebz's Book Club is proud to review Forgotten Heroes: Winnipeg's Hockey Heritage, written by Richard Brignall and published by JG Shillingford Publishing Incorporated. Mr. Brignall has done an exceptional job with this book as the amount of amazing and fascinating history he's put inside the covers is second-to-none.

From the Thin Air Writer's Festival webpage, "Richard Brignall is a freelance writer and journalist with a particular interest in sports. He helped originate the Recordbooks series at James Lorimer, and has published several titles, including Small Town Glory (about the Kenora Thistles' Stanley Cup win), Big League Dreams (about black baseball player Fergie Jenkins), and China Clipper (about Chinese-Canadian football player Norm Kwong). His new book, Forgotten Heroes: Winnipeg's Hockey Heritage (JG Shillingford) is a trove of stories, data and photos tracing the history of hockey, from it's early days - it began here, in Manitoba - to its wild popularity across the continent. Brignall lives in Kenora."

Mr. Brignall has done an outstanding job in Forgotten Heroes: Winnipeg's Hockey Heritage in finding some amazing photos to go along with the stories of Winnipeg's earliest hockey heroes. He outlines the success the Winnipeg Victorias had in winning the Stanley Cup over the Montreal Victorias twice at the turn of the twentieth century. His vivid descriptions of the matches played between the two Vitoria teams, the Montreal Shamrocks, the Ottawa clubs, and the Winnipeg Winnipegs - the other Winnipeg-based senior hockey team - are phenomenal, and he spares no detail in bringing together the accuracy of reports.

Amongst the many stories are highlights of specific key players to the Winnipeg Victorias. Dan Bain, Jack Armytage, Whitey Merritt, Joe Hall, and Tony Gingras are key names that should be mentioned in any hockey history about Winnipeg, and Mr. Brignall doesn't gloss over these names. He highlights their contributions to the Stanley Cup victories celebrated by the Victorias very well, and it is apparent they started the legacy of great hockey players in Winnipeg.

Forgotten Heroes: Winnipeg's Hockey Heritage also features historical stories about some of the key people in hockey history who made their impacts off the ice. Goaltender Whitey Merritt first thought of wearing cricket pads to protect his shins. Former hockey player and speed skating legend Jack McCulloch developed the tube skate for hockey players that allowed players to maneuver better on a short, thin blade. George Tackaberry, living beside hockey player Joe Hall, came up with a boot for Hall made from kangaroo leather with a reinforced toe that would stand up to the rigors of a full hockey season. This style of boot would be known as the Tackaberry, and his wife would sell the patent to CCM in 1937 to Canadian Cycle and Motor Company, better known as CCM. Today, the Tackaberry boot is better known as CCM "Tacks"!

Forgotten Heroes: Winnipeg's Hockey Heritage doesn't just look at that small window of time surrounding the Victorias, though. There's a section on the Allan Cup that ranged from 1908-1935 that features the exceptional talent shown on the ice by the University of Manitoba, the Winnipeg Falcons, and the Winnipeg Monarchs. While professional hockey was still raging in the NHA in the east, amateur hockey had gripped the city of Winnipeg and the province of Manitoba. Stories of Dick Irvin and George Hay leading the Monarchs to an Allan Cup chaampionship in 1915, the 61st Battalion dominating amateur hockey in 1917 and 1918, and the Winnipeg Falcons winning the 1920 Antwerp Olympic men's ice hockey gold medals are all documented!

Simply put, there is way too much information to give Forgotten Heroes: Winnipeg's Hockey Heritage its true credit. Mr. Brignall has done incredible work in bringing to light the teams from the turn of the twentieth century through to the years of World War II that helped put Winnipeg on the hockey map. Literally, there are hundreds of players mentioned in Forgotten Heroes: Winnipeg's Hockey Heritage that should be credited for Winnipeg's rich history of hockey, and that doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of communities like Brandon, Portage la Prairie, The Pas, Flin Flon, Selkirk, or anywhere else in Manitoba. I am completely blown away at the depth that Mr. Brignall went to in digging up some of the histories of teams in Winnipeg, and his exhaustive work makes Forgotten Heroes: Winnipeg's Hockey Heritage so good.

I usually have something I've found with the current review that is a bit of a negative. I am happy to say that while some of Forgotten Heroes: Winnipeg's Hockey Heritage's stories are long, the pictures and information are unparalleled. Mr. Brignall is exhaustive in bringing every detail to light about the teams and eras featured in Forgotten Heroes: Winnipeg's Hockey Heritage, and he deserves major credit for writing an incredible book on Winnipeg's hockey history.
"Harnessing a powerhouse attack, which could not be stopped, the St. Boniface Seals proved to be unstoppable in that final game. A record paid attendance of 15,617 watched the Seals defeat the Generals 7-1. The St. Boniface Seals were the Memorial Cup champions of 1938.
Mr. Brignall should be proud of his efforts in Forgotten Heroes: Winnipeg's Hockey Heritage. I haven't seen any book containing the same depth of information about Winnipeg's early hockey history, and Mr. Brignall should be commended for the effort put forth in Forgotten Heroes: Winnipeg's Hockey Heritage. Because of that fact, Forgotten Heroes: Winnipeg's Hockey Heritage absolutely deserves the Teebz's Book Club Seal of Approval!

Look for Forgotten Heroes: Winnipeg's Hockey Heritage at your local bookstore! It comes highly recommended!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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