The New Game: How Hockey Saved Itself.


278 pages
Contains Photos, Index
ISBN 978-0-670-06560-8
DDC 796.962'64





Reviewed by Ian A. Andrews

Ian A. Andrews is a high-school social sciences teacher and editor of the New Brunswick Teachers’ Association’s Focus.


Steve Paikin is better known for his work as a television interviewer and political commentator than as an author, but he uses his facility with words to provide an entertaining and well-researched look at the post-lockout National Hockey League. The title expresses Paikin’s thesis: changes forced upon the NHL, from both outside and within, have had a positive influence on the game of hockey.


During his days as a student at the University of Toronto, Paikin broadcasted Varsity Blues games with Michael Landsberg (now at TSN) and acquired press access to the Toronto Maple Leafs. His career path veered away from sports, but Paikin retained his intimate knowledge of hockey and has combined it with his journalistic skills to compile The New Game.


Each chapter explores a particular aspect in the evolution of hockey in the 21st century. Players, coaches, and general managers provide commentary—mostly positive—about rule changes. Here are a few examples. The economic changes that resulted in a salary cap will help small market teams to compete on a level playing field, while permitting larger market teams to acquire even greater profits. One dimensional players relying only on their pugilistic skills should be eliminated from the game. And the NHL has become comfortable for players from around the world since all speak the “universal language” of hockey.


Paikin explores a variety of issues: whether hockey can survive in the American South; how minority players (starting with the first black player, Willie O’Ree in 1958) have fared in a predominantly white, Canadian game; and how the introduction of media competition for the CBC has changed the coverage of hockey; and why the possibility of a lucrative American network television contract seems unlikely.


While interviewing players, Paikin makes an interesting observation: “I suspect that hockey players are overwhelmingly polite and responsive with reporters because the vast majority of them come from two parent homes with close families that were deeply involved in their upbringing.” Goaltender Kevin Weekes describes his addiction to the sport: “Hockey transcends everything. It’s like art, it’s like food. It transcends distance and culture.” Like Weekes, the author’s passion for the game is evident in this splendid work.


Paikin, Steve., “The New Game: How Hockey Saved Itself.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 23, 2024,