Sunday, 8 May 2016

TBC: The Decisive Moment

I posted the Deadspin article about David Davis the other day and his work in capturing the famous Bobby Orr photo. This got me thinking about other photographers who have devoted themselves and their craft to the game of hockey. They are mostly unknown names outside the likes of Richard Brodeur, but there are the men and women who bring us the visual moments that identify key players and situations. Teebz's Book Club is proud to being one of those photographer's great visuals to you today in The Decisive Moment, written by Andrew Podnieks, photos by Dennis Miles, and published by Moydart Press. This look at key photos taken by Dennis Miles over his career is a treasure trove of amazing photos of hockey that happened in Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens and the Air Canada Centre.

Directly from his website, "Andrew Podnieks has written more than 80 books on hockey, all of which are featured on this website. In addition, he has attended four Olympics, 13 World Championships, and many World Junior, Women's Worlds, and Women’s U18 Championships for the IIHF, writing extensively for He has worked with Hockey Canada and USA Hockey to produce comprehensive statistics for all levels of competition. For Canada's Sports Hall of Fame, he helped develop web and exhibition content and successfully nominated several inductees." I've been lucky enough to review a number of Mr. Podnieks' books on this site, so check out the list on the right to get reviews on more of his books!

Dennis Miles, whose photos are the subject of The Decisive Moment, is still teaching today at Ryerson University as the Academic Coordinator in Photography Studies, something he's been doing since 1971! The oddest part of Mr. Miles' career, though, is that he was never actually employed as a photographer, but simply did it because he enjoyed the process of photography! The fact that he was able to make some money doing something he loved allowed him ample opportunities to hone his art and master his shooting techniques. Mr. Miles has covered a vast number of sports, from auto racing to football to boat racing to hockey. You can see some of Mr. Miles' additional work on the Ryerson website!

Mr. Miles has covered hockey from the era of the barefaced goalie right through to the current era, and he's seen all of the stars in each of these eras in various situations based on his seat at either Maple Leaf Gardens and/or Air Canada Centre. If you think of all of the stars he's seen, he has photos of a vast majority of the greatest players ever - Gordie Howe, Bobby Orr, Ken Dryden, Guy Lafleur, Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Mark Messier, and on and on. He's literally photo-documented the best players of the last half-century as they rolled through Toronto with their respective teams.

Mr. Podnieks has hand-picked a number of the photos in Mr. Miles' collection and written a page of commentary about the players featured in the photos along with some historical context of the era. There are some great examinations done by Mr. Podnieks with these photos as he talks of Jean BĂ©liveau, Johnny Bower, Denis DeJordy, Eddie Giacomin, and Tim Horton among these older photos. There are some great photos taken by Mr. Miles, and Mr. Podnieks accentuates them well with great stories and information about the subject in the photo.

There's a particular passage in The Decisive Moment next to a Larry Robinson photo that is pretty amazing. In Game Four of the Stanley Cup Playoff semifinals in 1979, the Habs held a 3-0 lead in the series with Game Four heading to overtime. Tiger Williams was penalized for high-sticking at 2:38 of the extra frame which angered Williams, and Robinson would score in overtime to win the series. It was what happened after the goal that makes Mr. Podnieks' additions to the photos a vital piece of this book.
"Incensed, Williams went to the 'sin bin' and 96 seconds later Robinson scored the game and series winner. Williams stormed out of the penalty box and went straight for Myers. Robinson gave him a bear hug and calmed him down. Teams shook hands and left the ice, but Big Bird's sporting gesture might well have saved Tiger's career."
These are the stories one will find in The Decisive Moment that really define the players featured in the photos. Mr. Miles provides some incredible visuals with his work, but Mr. Podnieks brings the narrative that gives the photos life.

There are a 176 pages of photos and narrative in The Decisive Moment with each looking at key players and moments in NHL history. Mr. Podnieks has selected some excellent pictures and written some great passages about these photos. While the write-ups are brief, they highlight the players' careers and moments quite nicely. Because of the history both in writing and photos presented in The Decisive Moment by Mr. Miles and Mr. Podnieks, The Decisive Moment absolutely deserves the Teebz's Book Club Seal of Approval!

You should be able to find The Decisive Moment in most bookstores and libraries after its publishing date in 2015! Look for it there!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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