Thursday, 14 January 2010

TBC: Go To The Net

Teebz's Book Club is proud to present what I'd say could be a controversial book in that one may agree or disagree with some or all of the points presented in today's book. Al Strachan has never been this writer's favorite hockey mind, but there is no denying that Strachan knows the game well after having been in the reporter's role for over two decades. With that, TBC is proud to bring to you Go To The Net - Eight Goals That Changed The Game, written by Al Strachan and published by Doubleday Canada. Strachan's examination of the eight biggest goals in the history of hockey is sure to bring back some vivid memories for fans, but should also help to stir the debate as to whether these eight goals changed the game of hockey more significantly than any others.

Al Strachan is a former columnist with the Toronto Sun, the Globe & Mail, and the Montreal Gazette. Mr. Strachan was a former panelist on the Satellite Hotstove segment of the CBC's Hockey Night In Canada, and regularly makes appearances on The Score highlight channel on the Hardcore Hockey Talk show with Steve Kouleas and Steve Ludzik.

In taking a look at the game of hockey, Mr. Strachan has narrowed the game down to eight goals that he feels changed the game of hockey in the way that it is played. There is no doubt that a few of these goals have had lasting impressions on the way the game is played today, but I'd argue that there are others that Mr. Strachan completely ignored that had a far larger impact than a few of those he chose.

While these eight goals are entirely a subjective topic for Mr. Strachan, the fact that he evokes an argument from me about the choice of these eight goals is proof that his book does what all good writing does: makes one think and reflect upon the topic presented.

Where the book fell short, in my view, is that Mr. Strachan spends a lot of the pages building up the story to the goal. In some cases, he stretches back full seasons and years to explain how he reached his conclusions. While I get that the build-up to some of these goals goes to explain how they changed hockey, the narrative is far less important compared to the impact that these goals had.

Mr. Strachan's focus within the boom seemed to shift from the explanation of the impact of these goals on the game of hockey to the role of historian, documenting how each goal came about. While I agree that there is significance in the build-up of each goal, the title of the book seems to lead one to believe that Mr. Strachan would do more examination of how each goal changed hockey rather. Mr. Strachan does explain the significance, but it occasionally gets lost in the pages and pages of build-up to each goal.

Go To The Net - Eight Goals That Changed The Game cannot be overlooked for its historical perspective, however. Mr. Strachan's role as a sports journalist gives him a unique perspective of some of these goals, and the long historical review of how each goal came about really should excite sports historians. From the explanation of how the Oilers and Islanders nearly derailed the 1987 Canada Cup to examining how Canada's 2002 Winter Olympic team nearly came apart at the seams, there is a great deal of exceptional historical information in this book, and Mr. Strachan should be commended for this effort.

While I'm not going to publish the eight goals chosen by Mr. Strachan here, I feel that Bobby Orr's signature end-to-end rushes was a serious oversight on Mr. Strachan's part. Orr revolutionized the game with his speed and offensive flair, yet gets no mention of his impact on the game. Again, this is my personal feeling towards Orr's contributions, but Mr. Strachan is stirring my emotions as to the historical significance of some of his choices and omissions.

Because of the emotional factor and the ability to cause debate among hockey fans with his choices, Go To The Net - Eight Goals That Changed The Game will receive the Teebz's Book Club Seal of Approval. The book itself won't change hockey history, but the historical perspective and the resulting debate that Mr. Strachan's choices may cause is entirely why this book is a good read.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

No comments: