CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 18 . . . . January 13, 2012
Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers are two of the titles in Don Cruickshank's six volume "Canadian Hockey Teams" series which also includes books about the Montreal Canadiens, the Ottawa Senators, the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Calgary Flames. Given that the "reincarnated" Winnipeg Jets have just [re]arrived in the NHL, Cruickshank can be forgiven for not yet penning a volume about them.
As one would expect of a series, the books have a common structure, consisting of two-page chapters that deal with the targeted team's history, home arena, jerseys, goalie masks, coaches, mascot, records, legends, and star players before concluding with single pages labelled "Unforgettable Moments" and "Brain Teasers." A brief glossary and index are found on the books' final page. Each "chapter" consists of a full-page colour photo that bleeds into the facing page of text.
Given that the books are only 24 pages long and that more than half of the pages are taken up with the full-colour photographs, the text, aimed at beginning readers, is understandably quite brief. As can be seen in the "History" excerpt above, taken from Edmonton Oilers, Cruickshank can only touch upon the highlights of a team's history.
The "Home Arena" section identifies the various rinks which have been home to the book's team and provides statistics on its seating. "The Jerseys" portion provides descriptions and photos of the team's home, away and third jerseys. An explanation of why a team needs a third jersey would be a worthwhile addition to any future revision of these books.
"Goalie Masks" features one mask via a full-page photo while three others are illustrated and described on the text page. The three smaller photos need to be enlarged so that young readers can better appreciate how the masks have been painted. Space limitations impact "The Coaches" portion of the book. Thouigh the text for The Oilers says that "Tom Renney became the 10th coach in Oilers team history in 2010," the text identifies but four of the 10. Similarly, the Canucks have had 16 head coaches, but again Cruikshank just briefly speaks to a quartet of them.
As occurs in other professional sports, like baseball and football, some NHL teams have adopted mascots. While "The Mascot" pages of Vancouver Canucks reveal that the team has a mascot named Fin who dons an orca head, the Oilers are one of the four NHL teams who are mascot-less. In Edmonton Oilers, the mascot section is titled "Dance Team":
The "Records" portion of the books provides the names of the team's all-time leaders in six categories; Most Goals, Most Games Played, Most Penalty Minutes, Most Assists, Most Points and Most Goaltender Wins.
The "Legendary..." pages identify two or three retired players whose playing exploits would cause them to be considered team "legends." For the Canucks, the players are Marcus Naslund and Trevor Linden while the Oilers legends are represented by Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier. The "Star..." pages again identify two or three players, but this time the players are still currently active. Cruikshank has selected goalie Roberto Luongo and the Seden twins as being the Canucks stars, and two of the Oilers young guns, Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle, as being Edmonton's current standouts.
The page devoted to each team's "Unforgettable Moments" chronologically identifies five highlight moments for each team. For beginning readers who are being taught a left to right progression in their reading, the rather jumbled arrangement of the dated text boxes may be mildly off-putting.
"Brain Teasers" consists of five questions based on the book's text, with the 'inverted' answers being found at the bottom of the page.
Both books have a glossary consisting of 11 words, with some of the words being common to both glossaries. The words found in the glossary are those that have been highlighted in the text. Given each book's brevity, the index provided is really unnecessary.
Since the books are available in both paper and hardcover editions, purchasers will have to weigh cost versus usage in making their acquisition decisions. As well, the shelf life of the content will need to be taken into account. In today's NHL, the faces that appear in the books' photos may be wearing different team jerseys next year. However, there is no doubt that these team-coloured books will definitely be popular with young hockey fans who are beginning readers.
Dave Jenkinson, CM's editor, lives in Winnipeg, MB, where he eagerly awaits the arrival of Cruickshank's Jets volume.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.