The National Hockey League Official Guide & Record Book 1985-86
Robert Barney was Professor of Physical Education at the University of Western Ontario in London.
“Wanna know who scored the fastest two goals in NHL history?” (Normie Ullman, 5 seconds apart, Detroit vs. Chicago, April 11, 1965). “And, hey! How about the only player in NHL history to score seven goals in one game?” (Joe Malone, of the old Quebec Bulldogs, January 31, 1920). There’s no doubt about it! For the dedicated NHL fan and the avid hockey trivia buff, The National Hockey League Official Guide and Record Book 1985-86 is a veritable goldmine of information, statistics, and historic record. In effect, this publication is the bible of the NHL’s past and current history. Everything’s here: a complete schedule for 1985-86; the NHL Challenge Quiz with answers (great training for the trivia addict); a player register featuring year-by-year records of all NHL players out of hockey since 1950; final stats for all phases of League play last year (1984-85); annual All-Star teams; Stanley Cup records — literally, everything you want to know about the great, the nearly great, and even the not-so-great in the long and storied history of the world’s premier professional hockey league. Although there is naturally a focus on individual player accomplishment, included also is information on individual hockey clubs that are currently members of the NHL (club records, rosters, management officials, etc.). There is also a section of information that one rarely sees in publications of this nature — the Board of Governors, League officers and officials, League departments, off-ice officials, on-ice officials, attendance stats since 1960, and even an explanation of the players’ pension plan. Included also is a liberal display of black-and-white photographs of the more outstanding players, coaches, and officials in the League’s darn near three-quarter century history.
There may be some surprises for the contemporary viewer of the NHL’s 21-team, four-division structure. Folks who remember the “Original Six” will be surprised to learn that those League members (Montreal, Toronto, Boston, New York, Chicago, and Detroit) weren’t really the original NHL teams at all. For the first seven years of the League’s history, dating from the 1917-18 season, the member teams represented an all-Canadian format (Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, and Hamilton). In 1924 the Boston Bruins inaugurated a trend that would irrevocably include American franchises. The Bruins were followed into the NHL in short order by New York and Pittsburgh. (Who among us today would have thought that the NHL had a Pittsburgh representative in 1925, long before the Penguins’ entry into the league in 1967?) In fact, the so-called “Original Six” did not evolve until the World War II years of 1942-43. That sacrosanct format lasted until the 1967-68 season, when the NHL split into two divisions (today it has four) and expanded geographically to reflect a coast-to-coast format with the additions of Los Angeles and Oakland.
It’s difficult to nit-pick on deficiencies in this volume. But it’s a rare book that has no weaknesses. In the first place, in a reference-type volume like this one, an index is critically important. This book has none! Secondly, the history of the Stanley Cup showcased in the book is incomplete in at least one sense. An annotation of the Cup’s early years of history (1892-1900), at which time the Cup was awarded to “the best hockey team in Canada” without consideration of its being amateur or professional, is missing from the record. Notably, though, the annotated record of Cup play from 1900-01 to 1917-18 (the year the NHL was established) is included. Disappointing, also, is the coverage given to North America’s hockey halls of fame. The Canadian Hockey Hall of Fame (in Toronto), and the American counterpart (in Evelyth, Minnesota) are given a scant four pages of attention in a book that numbers some 350 pages.
In general, though, and with all nit-picking aside, the message on the back cover of the book tells it all: “Everything worth knowing about the NHL: A book everyone in hockey is talking about.” And besides, any book with a large color picture of “the Great One” on its cover can’t be too bad, right? This book’s contents are as praiseworthy as the hockey talent and skills of No. 99 on the front cover, raising his hand in triumph as he greets still another congratulatory teammate.