The Best Sports Book Of All Time: The Game

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The Best Sports Book Of All Time: The Game by Brian Langis

I recently finished The Game by former hockey goalie legend Ken Dryden. I’m too young to have seen Ken Dryden played. But I heard of him. My parents said great things about him. My grandparents had Jacques Plante, my parents had Ken Dryden, I grew up with Patrick Roy, and the new generation has Carey Price. Le Club de hockey Canadien de Montréal is the home of many hockey legends and 24 Stanley Cups. After the New York Yankees with 27 World Series Championship, the Habs are the 2nd most successful sports franchise in the world.

I read the 30th anniversary edition. Sports Illustrated nominated among the Best Sports Book of All Time. It comes with a foreword by Bill Simmons (one of the top sports columnist, analyst, author, and podcaster…ESPN, HBO, Grantland. He’s also a Boston guy, which must be weird for him to write a foreword for a goalie that destroyed the Bruins). Is it the best sports book of all-time? I can’t answer that. I don’t know. I haven’t read enough sports book and there are a lot on the list. For example I still have to read Mike Tyson’s biography. I’m not saying Mike’s book is the best ever but I only think I will like that one more only because it will be more entertaining. Tyson had such a crazy messed-up life.  Plus I grew up with Tyson so I can relate to him. I didn’t grew up with Dryden. That was pre-Internet era and I didn’t have hockey cards of him. You occasionally saw this old picture of him where’s he’s a giant and people would tell you that’s Dryden. Ken Dryden’s book is a great in a different sense.  He doesn’t try to entertain you with crazy stories of the team back in the days. He paints a pictures for the readers of the one best dynasty of all time. It’s a special sports book. It’s a mix of a lot of things; biography, history, psychology, philosophy, entertainment, and random nuggets of wisdom. Dryden is a very smart man.

What makes a player great? What makes a team come together or fall apart? Why can’t teams win one title and just keep winning? How do you stay motivated after winning enough time? This is a ~300 page book that takes on a lot. It doesn’t seem like a big book but there’s a lot of stuff in there. There’s a part of the book that talks about the team he was on. Not any team, but one of the successful sport dynasty of all time. It was nice to get a behind the scene look at such a successful team. People are attracted to success and the legends of those days are still being felt in the world of hockey (Jean Beliveau, Yvan Cournoyer, Guy Lafleur, Larry Robinson, Bob Gainy, Scotty Bowman and many others). Aside the special team, Dryden also talks about hockey on how it’s a different sports and its special place in Canadian culture, the Soviet hockey machine, rising salaries, the goalie position among other thing. It’s extremely well written.

Goalies are a different breed of people. They are different. Anybody who played hockey knows what I’m talking about. They are different because of their unique position in the team and you also need a different mindset to be a goalie. I’m not saying that like it’s a bad thing because it’s not. Ken Dryden was definitely different. He’s a very smart person. He’s a trained lawyer. He was a lawyer when he played for the Habs. He actually sat out for a full year to prepare for the bar exam. Then he came back and won more cups. He won a total of six Stanley Cups with the Habs and he retired in 1979. It’s not a book where you need to love hockey to read it.  Though it definitely help if you are a hockey fan, you will enjoy his book.

The Game: 30th Anniversary Edition by Ken Dryden

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