The Lives Of Conn Smythe: From The Battlefield To Maple Leaf Gardens: A Hockey Icon's Story

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The Lives Of Conn Smythe: From The Battlefield To Maple Leaf Gardens: A Hockey Icon's Story

by Kelly Mcparland

McClelland & Stewart | October 2, 2012 | Trade Paperback |

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While the story of the Toronto Maple Leafs has been told many times, there has never been a full biography of the man who created, built and managed the team, turning it from a small-market collection of second-rate players into the hockey and financial powerhouse that dominated Canadian sports and created a collection of Canadian icons along the way. From the 1920s to the mid-1960s, Conn Smythe was one of the best-known, highest-profile figures in the country -- irascible, tempestuous, outspoken, and controversial. He not only constructed a hockey team that dominated the league for long stretches, but was critical to the growth and shaping of the NHL itself. By building Maple Leaf Gardens and hiring Foster Hewitt to fill Canada''s living rooms with weekly broadcasts, he turned Saturday night into hockey night, creating institutions and habits that became central to Canada''s character and remain with us today. 

Smythe''s story is much deeper and richer than the tale of a cantankerous hockey owner. Smythe fought in both world wars, fighting at Ypres and Passchendaele in the first war and landing at Normandy in the second. He was wounded in both and spent two years as a POW in a German camp after being shot down in 1917. He grew up in poverty and vowed to escape the life that was so incredibly hard on his family. Smythe was active in politics and ignited a national crisis over conscription that split the Liberal government in two and brought Mackenzie King to the brink of resignation. 

This book tells the life of one of the country''s great characters, a man who helped shape and define us and who left behind national habits and institutions that continue to lay at the heart of what makes Canada, Canada.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 384 Pages, 5.91 × 8.66 × 0.79 in

Published: October 2, 2012

Publisher: McClelland & Stewart

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0771056842

ISBN - 13: 9780771056840

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– More About This Product –

The Lives Of Conn Smythe: From The Battlefield To Maple Leaf Gardens: A Hockey Icon's Story

by Kelly Mcparland

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 384 Pages, 5.91 × 8.66 × 0.79 in

Published: October 2, 2012

Publisher: McClelland & Stewart

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0771056842

ISBN - 13: 9780771056840

Read from the Book

Sportswriters loved Conn Smythe. Even the ones who didn’t like him loved him. Reporters love anyone who gives them something interesting to write about, and Smythe always had something newsworthy going on. If you asked a serious question, he’d answer it. Even if he knew his response would upset people, he’d say it anyway. Sometimes he’d say it because he knew it would upset people, because controversy put butts in the seats at Maple Leaf Gardens. Not that the Gardens’ seats lacked backsides: from the time Smythe finally gained full control in 1947 until he quit his last post with the team two decades later, there hadn’t been a single unsold ticket to a Leafs game, and there wouldn’t be for many more years to come.   They loved him because of his outsized character, fierce pride and uncompromising devotion to success, which was also useful newspaper fodder. They described him as fiery, stubborn, imperious, explosive, volcanic, “a flinty mixture of heart and head,” “an eruption of Mt. Etna,” a firebrand, “the Toronto pepperpot,” “the Little Pistol,” “the Little Corporal,” “the little Major.”   Trent Frayne wrote that Smythe was a “bombastic, romantic, bigoted, inventive, intimidating, quixotic, terrible-tempered paradox of outlandish proportions.” 1 Frayne’s wife, June Callwood, portrayed him as “a high-hearted despot, a patriot, a
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From the Publisher

While the story of the Toronto Maple Leafs has been told many times, there has never been a full biography of the man who created, built and managed the team, turning it from a small-market collection of second-rate players into the hockey and financial powerhouse that dominated Canadian sports and created a collection of Canadian icons along the way. From the 1920s to the mid-1960s, Conn Smythe was one of the best-known, highest-profile figures in the country -- irascible, tempestuous, outspoken, and controversial. He not only constructed a hockey team that dominated the league for long stretches, but was critical to the growth and shaping of the NHL itself. By building Maple Leaf Gardens and hiring Foster Hewitt to fill Canada''s living rooms with weekly broadcasts, he turned Saturday night into hockey night, creating institutions and habits that became central to Canada''s character and remain with us today. 

Smythe''s story is much deeper and richer than the tale of a cantankerous hockey owner. Smythe fought in both world wars, fighting at Ypres and Passchendaele in the first war and landing at Normandy in the second. He was wounded in both and spent two years as a POW in a German camp after being shot down in 1917. He grew up in poverty and vowed to escape the life that was so incredibly hard on his family. Smythe was active in politics and ignited a national crisis over conscription that split the Liberal government in two and brought Mackenzie King to the brink of resignation. 

This book tells the life of one of the country''s great characters, a man who helped shape and define us and who left behind national habits and institutions that continue to lay at the heart of what makes Canada, Canada.

About the Author

KELLY McPARLAND is a writer, editor and columnist at the National Post and a member of the newspaper''s editorial board. He has worked for more than thirty years at newspapers and agencies in Canada, England, and Hong Kong. A lifelong Toronto Maple Leaf fan, he is old enough to remember the winning goal in the 1967 Stanley Cup, and young enough to live in hope of seeing the next one as well. He lives outside Toronto with his wife and daughter.

Editorial Reviews

"Kelly McParland... has offered hockey fans a truly remarkable book on the man who essentially built the Leafs we know and love, or hate, today. This piece of work [is] so special and great tribute to one of Canada''s biggest icons." -- TheCheckingLine.com
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