cover image The Last Hockey Game

The Last Hockey Game

Bruce Mcdougall. Goose Lane Editions (UTP, North American dist.), $29.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-86492-378-3

The decisive sixth game of the 1967 Stanley Cup final between the victorious Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens provides the focal point for this vivid, well-researched analysis of the then-impending cultural and commercial transformation of the National Hockey League. Longtime Canadian business writer McDougall (Ted Rogers) implies nostalgia with his title but is unflinching in his depiction of the rigors of old-time hockey, embodied in Leafs goalie Terry Sawchuk%E2%80%99s habit of keeping and displaying his lost teeth and bone chips. Skillfully juxtaposed anecdotes illustrate the differences between the personalities of the Montreal and Toronto organizations, the standard-bearers for French Canada and English Canada respectively: pre-game, Montreal coach Toe Blake told his players to give their best, while Toronto coach Punch Imlach threw $1,000 on the dressing room floor and said, %E2%80%9CThis is what you%E2%80%99re playing for.%E2%80%9D The league%E2%80%99s subsequent expansion from six teams to 12 and the creation of the NHL Players Association would make money more of a focus than ever. Primarily catering to hardcore hockey fans, McDougall occasionally goes overboard with details, like offering mathematical proof that the %E2%80%9867 Leafs had greater experience than the Canadiens. Yet he succeeds in showing how players loved the game in an era when it was all they had. (Nov.)