If you’re like me, hockey goes far beyond watching games on TV. Hockey is a big part of how I like to spend a lot of my free time, which includes reading the occasional good book.
With all the Top ______ of the 2010’s lists being posted all over the internet, let’s hope you’re not sick of them yet, because here’s another: a list of must-read hockey books from the 2010’s.
Orr: My Story - Bobby Orr (2013)
Of course, we have to start with a book about a Bruin.
While Searching for Bobby Orr by Stephen Brunt is probably a better book, Orr: My Story gives an autobiographic account of the life of not just the greatest Bruin of all time, but also one of the most intriguing and private sport figures of the 20th century.
In this book, the reader journeys through Orr’s professional career through the eyes of #4 himself, as you experience the highs and lows of his prolific, but short, time in the NHL. More importantly than the hockey stuff written in this book, Orr provides candid details about his childhood and life away from the game that shaped him into the player he was, and the man he is today.
Written with pure humility, Orr: My Story is accessible to all hockey fans, and it’s very easy to read.
All the Way - Jordan Tootoo with with Stephen Brunt (2014)
Jordan Tootoo was never the best hockey player. In fact he jumped around from team to team in his professional career, trying to find job security.
What makes Tootoo intriguing and this book a fascinating read is the personal and professional challenges that Tootoo had to overcome to make it to the pros and to become a role model for Indigenous youth in Canada.
All the Way presents a brutally honest account of Tootoo’s difficult life in Northern Canada growing up with abusive parents, and having to deal with addiction, suicide, and racism, yet possessing the ability to overcome personal demons to reach the highest level of hockey.
This is great read for anyone looking to be uplifted or motivated in their own lives.
Boy on Ice: The Life and Death of Derek Boogaard - John Branch (2014)
I actually picked this book up at a garage sale for $2, thinking, “it’s about hockey, so I’m sure its worth a shot.” When I finished this book, I couldn’t help but be moved by the story of Derek Boogaard.
Like most books about hockey players, we read about Boogaard’s journey from a boy to an NHLer, but Derek’s story is vastly different because of the role he played (as an enforcer) and the damage that fighting did to his brain. In this personal account, we also learn that this mountain of a man name nicknamed the Boogie Man was anything but terrifying off the ice.
To friends and family, Derek was truly a gentle giant that felt tremendous guilt about hurting others. Sadly, Derek’s life came to end in 2011; however, his story is very relevant for today’s game as it discusses the long-term impact of concussions and also the role of fighting in hockey.
One Night Only: Conversations with the NHL’s One-Game Wonders - Ken Reid (2016)
As hockey fans watching and cheering for the game’s best players night after night, it’s easy to forget about how difficult it truly is to make it to the NHL. Even more challenging is being able to stay in the big leagues, as the competition to stick with a NHL team is continuously fierce.
In One Night Only... Ken Reid, Canadian sportscaster (and fellow Nova Scotian!) presents the stories of 39 men who played in the NHL for just one game in their careers, and how that event defined their lives.
Instead of reading about stars that played for over a decade with tremendous success, it’s interesting to read about the struggles that most professional hockey players face on the way up to the pros and their inevitable fall back down the ladder. The one-game wonders listed in this book range from the era of the Original Six all the way up to the present day.
Some played rather insignificant games in the NHL, while others were called up when the game was on the line in the playoffs. The most notable name in this book is definitely Don Cherry, who has an entire chapter dedicated to his one game in the NHL and life that followed.
Like the other books in this list, this is a very easy book to read, and its short accounts of each player make for a great read when you’ve only got a few moments.
If These Walls Could Talk: Boston Bruins: Stories from the Boston Bruins Ice, Locker Room, and Press Box - Dale Arnold with Matt Kalman (2018)
If you’re an avid Bruins fan, I’m sure you’ll recognize the authors of If These Walls Could Talk...
This must-read for all Bruins fans presents Arnold’s behind-the-scenes accounts of some of the biggest moments in Bruins history and stories of past and present players, not so much as celebrities, but as real human beings.
Chapters are dedicated to Zdeno Chara, Marc Savard, Shawn Thornton, and several other players all fans will recognize. Additionally, Arnold & Kalman also write about some of the organization’s key contributors, including long-time announcer Nate Greenberg, who often don’t get the attention they deserve.
I particularly enjoyed the foreword by Ray Bourque and also the last chapter of the book about the Bruins’ contributions to their community.
If you’ve read these books, a couple of honorable mentions for other great hockey stories are:
- Playing with Fire - Theo Fleury (2009)
- The Game- Ken Dryden (1983)
- The Crazy Game - Clint Malarchuk (2014)
- The Boys of Winter: The Untold Story of a Coach, a Dream, and the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team - Wayne R. Coffey (2005)
Do you have a favorite hockey book that isn’t listed here? Let me know in the comments!