CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 16. . . .December 17, 2010.
We Are the Champions: The Greatest Hockey Teams of All-Time.
Edward Fraser, ed.
Montreal, PQ: Transcontinental Books (Distributed by Random House of Canada), 2010.
247 pp., pbk., $19.95.
National hockey league.
Grades 9 and up / Ages 14 and up.
Review by Thomas F. Chambers.
Most of the same Czechoslovak players had come within a single goal of scoring the first Olympics-World Championship double in the spring of that year. Playing for the gold medal at the 1976 Games in Innsbruck, Austria, Czechoslovakia led 3-2 and was only eight minutes away from a gold medal when Alexander Yakushev and Valery Kharlamov scored to give the soviets a 4-3 victory, leaving their archrivals with the silver.
We Are the Champions attempts to chronicle the best hockey teams in history. The bulk of the book discusses what the authors believe were the "Top 25 NHL Teams of all Time." Part two deals with the "Best of the Best" and covers minor leagues, developmental leagues and international leagues. The third, and smallest section, discusses other noteworthy NHL teams. It is illustrated throughout with many functional black and white photographs.
The chapters are in the form of magazine articles. They were written by The Hockey News staff and freelance writers. Coaches, hockey historians, players and general managers all contributed their opinions and data to the writers. The book is very subjective which is likely to upset fans of specific teams who may disagree with the book's analysis. The details do appear to be accurate.
There were so many contributors to We Are the Champions that there is no distinctive style to the writing. The prose, in most cases, is unremarkable. It is filled with details and quotations from many of the people mentioned which adds a sense of realism to what, is often quite boring. It is so factual that it is difficult to read for extended periods. It is best taken in small doses or little of the detail will be remembered.
The "Best of the Best" is less interesting than the "Top NHL Teams." This is partly because, except for diehard fans of all things hockey, the teams, players and their achievements are less well-known. Hockey legends like Jean Beliveau have more star appeal than Rick Kowalsky of the 2004-05 Trenton Titans of the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL).
For stats buffs, the "Best of the Best" has CHL and OHL Records. London, for example, of the OHL, had the fewest goals against in 2003-04, and the Brandon Wheat kings, of the CHL, had the longest undefeated streak in 1978-79.
The section on "International Hockey" has brief histories of nine tournaments, including the 1983 World Championships and the 1976 Canada Cup. This tournament included a superb team from Czechoslovakia that defeated Team Canada 1-0 at the start of the tournament but later lost because so many of its players caught the flu.
The final section, "NHL Teams," promises to "detail the top dog from each of the current 30 squads." This it does not do. Instead, it has a page on thirty teams starting with the Chicago Blackhawks of 1933-34 and ending with the 2009-10 Phoenix Coyotes. These are not in order of the years of the teams, but alphabetically. The 2003-04 Anaheim Ducks top the list, and the 1997-98 Washington Capitals bring up the rear.
Thomas F. Chambers, a retired college teacher, lives in North Bay, ON.
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