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Money Players: How Hockey’s Greatest Stars Beat the Nhl at Its Own Game

by Bruce Dowbiggin

The Calgary-based sportswriter Bruce Dowbiggin is pushing hard to become Canada’s next great chronicler of our national pastime. Dowbiggin, a frequent hockey commentator on radio and television and a writer for the Calgary Herald, has published two books on hockey in the past five years, Of Ice and Men and The Stick. In both books, Dowbiggin pulled off the tricky feat of getting to the stories behind the obvious he-shoots-he-scores narratives in an entertaining but never dumbed-down style.

With his latest offering, Money Players, Dowbiggin completes his hat trick of excellent hockey titles. Ostensibly a look at how modern NHL players have, with the help of their high-powered agents, devised increasingly ingenious ways of getting more money from NHL owners, the book is actually far more significant as a harbinger of labour problems to come. With the NHL’s collective bargaining agreement between players and owners slated to end in September of next year, Dowbiggin’s solid analysis of the major issues being put forward by both sides is extremely timely.

There has been a lot of commentary in the media about the various nuances of the current agreement and the various positions of the NHL players and owners. Money Players, though, can be considered the definitive word on the subject – and for that reason alone deserves a place on the shelf of any book-reading hockey fan.

Dowbiggin effectively combines interviews with league commissioner Gary Bettman, NHL Players Association head Bob Goodenow, and many team owners and players with telling detail and painstaking research into the business of hockey. Although Dowbiggin admits that “most sports reporters would rather chew ground glass than cover the business of the NHL,” he gives a well-rounded, lively look at professional hockey labour relations and economics.