________________ CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 24. . . .February 25th, 2011.


Awesome Centres. (Hockey Greats).

Mike Leonetti
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2010.
110 pp., pbk., $9.99.
ISBN 978-0-545-98689-2.

Subject Headings:
Hockey players-Biography-Juvenile literature.
National Hockey League-Biography-Juvenile literature.

Grades 5-7 / Ages 10-12.

Review by Thomas F. Chambers.

*** / 4




The Canadiens did not have an especially strong season, finishing in third place in the East, but Belliveau played in 70 games, scoring 25 times and adding 51 assists to help get his team back into the playoffs. Belliveau's most memorable night of the season came on February 11, 1971, when the Canadiens hosted the Minnesota North Stars. The Montreal captain scored the 500th goal of his career during a 6-2 victory. For the milestone goal, his third of the night, Belliveau took passes from Phil Roberto and Frank Mahovlich before beating North Star netminder Gilles Gilbert to become just the fourth NHL player to reach the 500-goal mark.

The awesome centres chosen for this volume of the "Hockey Greats" series are Jean Belliveau, Wayne Gretsky and Vincent Lecavalier. There is one chapter for each player of thirty plus pages. In addition to describing the players' hockey skills, the book gives background information on their formative years. The post-hockey lives of Belliveau and Gretsky and the potential future life of Lecavalier are also mentioned briefly. The book is ideal for recreational reading.

     internal artOf special interest for fans, statistics for the players are given for both their regular season and playoff performances. An index is also included. In addition, there are 31 black and white and colour photographs, some decorative and some functional, spread throughout the book.

     Hockey obsessed youngsters will love Awesome Centres. It highlights the careers of three outstanding players while explaining why they were so successful. In the process, it puts them on pedestals and reinforces their images as hockey icons.

     A book of this nature is bound to be subjective, however. There was a time when the late Howie Morenz, who played centre for the Canadiens, was considered the best player to have ever put on a pair of skates. He probably should have been included in this book. It is also not fair to compare players who played when there were only six teams to those who are playing today. There is no comparison between the two styles of hockey. It is doubtful if many of today's players could have played in the old NHL. They lack the skills, and Morenz was too small to even be considered today.

     Some statements will also be questioned. One concerns Wayne Gretsky. Because he wore 99 on his jersey, the book states "the number 99 would go down as the most famous number in hockey history." Fans who remember Maurice Richard and Gordie Howe will likely disagree because they both wore number 9, and, when they played, they were considered "the best."

     Mike Leonetti, who wrote Awesome Centres, is a well-known author of children's literature, having written over thirty books on sport for a youthful audience. A recent title, Hockey Now!, published in 2010, is already in its sixth printing, which gives an indication of his ability to connect with the target market.


Thomas F. Chambers, a retired college teacher, lives in North Bay, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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