CM . . .
. Volume XIV Number 9 . . . .December 21, 2007
Star Power: The Legend and Love of Cyclone Taylor. (Recordbooks).
Toronto, ON: James Lorimer, 2007.
104 pp., pbk. & hc., $9.95 (pbk.), $16.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55028-995-4 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55028-997-8 (hc.).
Taylor, Fred, 1884-1979.
Grades 5-8 / Ages 10-13.
Review by Thomas F. Chambers.
His career began nearly 100 years before Sidney Crosby pulled on his first pair of skates. He played long before Wayne Gretzky or even Maurice "the Rocket" Richard. The sports pages were filled with stories about him. He drew crowds of fans everywhere he went. They cheered as he led dazzling rushes up the ice. He could score goals at one end and stop them at the other. He was the fastest skater anyone had ever seen. They called him Cyclone Taylor.
Star Power is a biography of Fred Taylor, known to hockey history as Cyclone because of his amazing speed on skates. Taylor was born between 1883 and 1885 in Tara, ON, and died in 1979. The exact date of his birth is unknown. The sources used by author Eric Zweig differ on this fact. Other facts about Taylor's early life are also vague but not those about his hockey career. However, whether he scored after skating the length of the rink backwards is not a recognized fact and is one exception to the accuracy of the hockey career facts. Taylor played for a number of teams in the early part of the last century. These included the Ottawa Senators (then a team in the Eastern Canada Amateur Hockey Association prior to their being an NHL), the Portage Lake Hockey Club in Houghton, Michigan, and Portage La Prairie of the Manitoba League.
As Zweig indicates in the title, much of what is known about Taylor is legend. In his day, there were no instant replays, therefore, whether, or not, he scored a goal after skating the length of the rink backwards, will always remain a legend. But, as Zweig points out, legends can become facts. This may happen if they are repeated often enough. It is true that Taylor was a very fast skater (many who saw him play mentioned this), but legend has it that he was nicknamed Cyclone after Governor General Lord Grey said, "He's a cyclone if ever I saw one," at the conclusion of an Ottawa Senators game in 1908. However, Lord Grey may not even have attended the game.
Star Power is illustrated with four, decorative, black and white photographs scattered throughout the book. These show Taylor in the uniforms of the Ottawa Senators and Vancouver Millionaires, in a 1904 picture of the Listowel Hockey Team and in a group shot of an old-timers' team. There are, in addition, five pictures of Taylor on the book's covers. There is also a useful Glossary with definitions of hockey terms such as slashing and deke. There is no Index. The book is divided into ten chapters, averaging ten pages each.
Throughout the book, there are bracketed paragraphs that highlight events in Taylor's life and also bits of hockey history. For example, Protect Yourself tells readers about Taylor's using padding to protect himself, an idea he apparently thought up while watching padding being put on a horse's back to shield it from the saddle. This could be true, because, at only 5' 8" or 9," he was often roughed up during a game, and so he stuffed material from corsets into his hockey pants. Players were not protected with pads the way they are today.
The back cover of the book states that it is suitable for children 12 and older, but children younger than this should have little trouble with Star Power. It is not a difficult book and is suitable for recreational reading.
Author Eric Zweig has previously written a number of books about hockey, including Long Shot: How the Winnipeg Falcons Won the First Olympic Hockey Gold. He was a writer both for CBC Radio Sports and TSN Sports Radio and has written articles for newspapers such as the Toronto Star and the Globe & Mail. He is presently managing editor of Dan Diamond and Associates, described as consulting publishers to the NHL.
Thomas F. Chambers, a retired college teacher, lives in North Bay, ON.
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