The Hockey News Book of NHL Shooters
Dave Jenkinson is a professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba and the author of the “Portraits” section of Emergency Librarian.
Sixteen players from fifteen NHL teams are presented alphabetically, from Mike Bossy to Rick Vaive, in this magazine-sized book. Entries for each player are four to eight pages long and follow a standard format. Each player is introduced by a full-page, color, action portrait followed by 500-600 words of double-column text spread over two pages. Gilbert, a reporter for the well-known international hockey weekly, The Hockey News, writes not unsurprisingly in a laudatory manner, interspersing his prose with quotes attributed to the players or their coaches. The remainder of a player’s entry consists of several more uncaptioned action photos of varying sizes. While most additional photos are black and white, at least one for each player is in color (with the exception of Thomas Gradin who, for some unknown reason, did not rate another color shot). The book concludes with the players’ pro scoring and penalty statistics through the ‘81-82 season.
Since the demise of the copiously illustrated hockey magazine, books such as this one find a ready audience among juvenile and adult hockey aficionados. The thinking fan, however, will likely question the absence of an introduction to explain the criteria used to choose this particular group of sixteen players. Though nine of the “shooters” were among the ‘81-’82 season scoring leaders, some, like Ron Duguay and Gil Perrault, finished more than thirty points behind such excluded top scorers as Bobby Smith and Dave Taylor. If Thomas Gradin, Dale Hawerchuk, and Rick Vaive were included because they were their teams’ leading scorers, where are their counterparts from the Whalers, Blues, Red Wings, Flyers, Penguins, and N.J. Devils (née Rockies), the teams omitted from the book? The most pages, eight plus the cover, are given over to the Great Gretzky; nine other players are covered in six pages each, and the remaining six get but four pages, with no explanations being offered for the disparity in entry lengths. As the majority of the book’s players are emerging or recent stars as opposed to aging superstars past their prime, the book should maintain a steady readership for a few years.