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From the Publisher
In the tumultuous beginnings of hockey, the fights were as much off
the ice as on it. A Great Game is about the hockey heroes
and hard-boiled businessmen who built the game, and the rise and
fall of legendary teams pursuing the Stanley Cup. With a
historian's perspective and fan's passion, Stephen Harper presents
a riveting and often surprising portrait of the early years of
hockey, capturing everything from the physical contests on the
rinks to the battles behind the scenes.
A Great Game shows how much about hockey has stayed the
same. Rough play, fervent hometown loyalties, owner-player contract
disputes, partisan news coverage, and big money were issues from
the get-go. Was hockey to be a game of obsessed amateurs playing
for the love of the sport, or was it a game for paid professionals
who would give fans what they wanted?
A century ago rinks could melt, and by halftime the blades screwed
to the players' shoes could be sinking in mud, but the hockey
pioneers were unstoppable. Teams sprang up across North America,
from Victoria to Winnipeg, Halifax to Montreal, and Detroit to
Pittsburgh. In the Queen City, in spite of the fanatical opposition
of amateur hockey leaders, early teams such as the Toronto
Professionals of 1908 and the Toronto Blue Shirts of 1914 took
turns battling for Toronto's very first Stanley Cup. These
"forgotten Leafs" would lay the groundwork for the world's most
profitable hockey franchise.
In A Great Game, Stephen Harper brings alive the history
of hockey's first decades and pays passionate tribute to the
earliest star players of the game. This entertaining and original
book will captivate fans from start to finish.