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Saturday, 6 February 2016

TBC: Hockey Card Stories

It's Hockey Day in Canada today, and that means that we're in for a ton of hockey on the old television today. What you might not be aware of is that it is also National Hockey Card Day sponsored by Upper Deck where fans can get free packs of hockey cards from selected outlets! Being that today is an unofficial holiday on the Canadian map, I thought it would be a good time to blend the two days together as Teebz's Book Club returns with a great book today in Hockey Card Stories written by Ken Reid and published by ECW Press. Collecting hockey cards is something that a lot of kids did for fun and some turned it into a lucrative business, but there was nothing like finding that hard-to-find card or the one missing card from a set when you tore into a pack! Hockey Card Stories takes that feeling to a new level as Ken Reid talks to the players on the front of those cards!

You might know Ken Reid as one-half of the Sportsnet Central anchor team along with Evanka Osmak. Reid grew up in Pictou, Nova Scotia and graduated from Pictou Academy before getting a shot at a local station in Dartmouth. After establishing himself as a credible play-by-play man for the junior A team, the station hired Reid to do a weekly news program where he was editor, videographer, and anchor! Reid moved to Calgary, Ottawa, and Edmonton before landing in Toronto where he worked with CP24, TSN and the NHL Network before landing a permanent gig with Sportsnet in 2011. Ken is married and lives in Toronto.

Hockey Card Stories has some of Mr. Reid's memories of his favorite hockey cards, but the book is all about speaking with the men on the front of the cards and reminiscing about the photos which featured big hair, crazy facial hair, all sorts of errors, and a ton of airbrushing. It's the stories from the players, though, that make you wonder what they were thinking at the time and question what the card makers were thinking.

Hockey Card Stories features 59 players from various eras. People on the cards include Don Cherry, Orest Kindrachuk, Norm Beaudin, Murray Bannerman, Kelly Hrudey, Paul MacLean, and Bobby Orr - a wide range of characters and stars that each have their own stories to tell about the cards that Ken Reid has hand-picked for the book. The stories are funny and show a side of the players that we, as fans, may not know. It's this intimate look inside a player's mind when looking at his old hockey card that really shines through in Hockey Card Stories.

There are also some amazing pieces of information that are found within the covers. Not everyone knows the story of every player, but there are facts that some hockey historians may not even know. One such story comes from Kelly Hrudey whowore white gloves underneath his blocker and catcher. There was a reason for it. He tells Mr. Reid,
"In the late '70s, early '80s, there was this thing going around. It was called 'The Gunk.' And guys were getting this rash all over their body," begins Hrudey, who luckily never caught what the hockey world called The Gunk. But around this time, he did get a small rash on his right hand. The glove protected him, along with some medication inside. The Gunk, it seems, is one of hockey's greatest unsolved mysteries.
Hrudey's white gloves weren't because the rinks were cold and his hands got cold. Instead, they were to protect and heal the rash he developed on his hand and keep the medication from rubbing off inside his blocker. A little less interesting and a little more gruesome than one may have thought, right?

It's stories like that in Hockey Card Stories that make the book worth the price of admission. While I originally thought it might be a book about hockey cards, it turned out to be a book about the memorable players found on those cards. I have to say that it was a real joy in reading Hockey Card Stories because each story was another chapter into learning about a player and that time in his career. Mr. Reid does an excellent job getting some great stories out of the players. Because of this, Hockey Card Stories absolutely deserves the Teebz's Book Club Seal of Approval!

Pick up Hockey Card Stories at your local bookstore or at your local library. It's a fairly light read with lots of great facts, making it suitable for readers of all ages. Younger readers may not know all the players, but it's an excellent way to bridge the gap between the past and present hockey stars!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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