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The Canadian Hockey Atlas

by Stephen Cole

Don’t take The Canadian Hockey Atlas on your team’s next road trip – not if you want to find the rink, anyway. Each of the 11 chapters here – one per province, plus one for the territories – offers but a single blank map, with key towns and cities dotted by small pucks, numbered according to page entry.

Thankfully, what the book lacks in cartography, author Stephen Cole makes up for in writing skill and insight into the game. Cole, author of two previous hockey books, opens each chapter with an overview of that region’s hockey history. Lengthy, detailed, and fascinating essays for the specific towns and cities (94 in all) follow. Writing in an authoritative yet amiable voice, Cole works from archival material and original interviews to explore and illuminate the geographic roots of hundreds of hockey’s most famous and notable players, personalities, events, teams, and tournaments.

For example, Alex Faulkner of Bishop’s Falls, Newfoundland, recounts becoming the first kid from “The Rock” drafted – by the Toronto Maple Leafs – into the NHL in 1961. We learn of the great Manitoba teams, like the Flin Flon Bombers, whose underdog win of the Memorial Cup in 1957 inspired the 1999 stage musical Bombertown. We also discover that, at age seven, Canadian women’s national team captain Hayley Wickenheiser would sneak out of bed after midnight to practice on the backyard rink at her Shaunavon, Saskatchewan home.

Additionally, the book contains hundreds of informative and entertaining sidebars and photographs, including a chart of the nation’s top native players, a photo of a bloody-faced Jacques Plante (famed netminder for the Montreal Canadiens), and a team photo of Vancouver’s 1919-20 all-Japanese Asahi Athletic Club hockey team.

Though hockey fans won’t find a map to Maple Leaf Gardens in The Canadian Hockey Atlas, they will find a wealth of information about everything from the game’s pre-European Mi’kmaq roots in the Maritimes to the Calgary Flames’ 2005-06 Stanley Cup run. All worth getting lost in.