First, it should be noted that we’re jumping the gun slightly on the centenary. The National Hockey League will not turn 100 until 1917. But heck: why wait? The league’s detractors sometimes seem certain the NHL won’t even last that long. I’m predicting they’d be wrong.
Author D’Arcy Jenish (The Stanley Cup: 100 Years of Hockey at its Best, The Montreal Canadiens: 100 Years of Glory) clearly knows his way around a rink. Also, well-received and conceived earlier works paved the way — in all ways — for The NHL: A Centennial History (Doubleday Canada).
And Jenish has stepped up here. Wrong image for this sport, though I guess. Shall we say he’s covered the ice well?? Or…? Whatever the metaphor, Jenish has done it up properly, creating a history that is not only interesting, complete and comprehensive, it’s celebratory in tone without being cloying.
Though there are many components to the successes and struggles of the NHL, two major forces are, of course, at play here: the sport the fans see on the ice and the less obvious competitions that happen in the business offices of the league. And sometimes — too often? — it’s difficult to tell which one is more important.
Serious hockey fans will not want to miss this most intimate portrait of the National Hockey League, brave traditions, warts, and all. ◊
Aaron Blanton is a contributing editor to January Magazine. He’s currently working on a book based on his experiences as an American living abroad.