Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Hockey News Top 60 Since 1967 - Book Review

In 1998 The Hockey News came out with a list of the top 50 players to ever play hockey. Gretzky was ranked number 1 and Jari Kurri was ranked number 50, and in between the two 1980s Oilers stars there was a whole host of characters from the entire span of the 20th century, from ‘Cyclone’ Taylor, to Jacque Plante.

The Hockey News decided to update the list which in my opinion has some advantages; firstly, it helps us get around comparing the relative value/ability of players that played in such completely different eras, such as Cyclone Taylor and Sergei Federov. At least when comparing 1967 on, we know that there was essentially equal rules throughout this time.

I enjoyed reading through the list of 60 players, and although I had certain contentions over some picks (or their placement), I think that’s the fun of a list like that. Obviously judging the relative ability of the 60 greatest players over a 50 year period there will be some disagreements, but more often than not I found myself agreeing. I’ll also admit that there is a lot of hockey history that I’m ignorant on, having not been born until the 1980s. This is another great book for those of us that are truly students in the history of hockey.

The panel of hockey experts who were consulted on the list include very respected minds like Jim Rutherford and Brian Burke, but also range to the more outrageous such as Al Strachan.

Another aspect of the book I enjoyed was the stories that the players liked to emphasize themselves. For instance, I never knew that a certain famous Oiler originally had only the goal to play the game internationally, never believing he would be an NHLer.

If you’re looking for in depth statistical analysis and highly composed arguments about why each player belongs in the list of top 60 players since 1967, then this is the wrong book. If you’re looking for a easy read that includes some fun stories with a quick synopsis of why each player is considered great, then this is the book for you. I personally enjoyed it, but would probably wait for the paperback edition to save some money.

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