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The Death of Hockey: Or How a Bunch of Guys with Too Much Money and Too Little Sense Are Killing the Greatest Game on Earth

by Jeff Z. Klein and Karl-Eric Reif

“What’s wrong with the National Hockey League these days?”

That question has likely been asked thousands of times from coast to coast in this country over the last five years – in sports bars, around office coolers, and in the cheap seats of ice rinks from coast to coast. The answers are well known by now: too many teams, not enough talent, too much fighting, and silly rule changes that have slowed what was formerly the world’s fastest-moving team sport to an artless 60-minute wrestling match.

Now, however, thanks to a pair of (gasp!) American authors, there is a book that actually presents a compelling indictment of the state of the present-day National Hockey League (NHL), along with some excellent arguments about how to change it. Jeff Z. Klein and Karl-Eric Reif, New York sportswriters with roots at the Village Voice and collaborators on two previous books on the game, have taken the answers to the “what’s wrong” question out of the realm of the anecdotal and into the world of good, hard evidence in this book. They’ve taken a serious step toward providing fans and hockey officials with some solid advice on how to avoid what they consider further humiliation of a sacred sports institution.

Klein and Reif do it in inimitable style, too. Consider their condemnation of the expansion of the number of NHL franchises, a too-rapid addition of teams that most fans agree has opened up the gates to a flood of players who would never have made it out of the minor leagues 15 years ago: “Even if the desperately optimistic assumption that expansion into the American Sun Belt will magically inspire millions of kids across the southlands to suddenly start playing hockey pans out and produces thousands of young men with NHL skills,” they muse, “do you really want to spend the next 20 years or more watching bad hockey while you await the arrival of this promised new wave of talent?”

The Death of Hockey is one of the best “state-of-the-union” books on sports to come around in a long time. And if you love pro hockey but hate the way the NHL is going, this book is for you.


Reviewer: Paul Challen

Publisher: Macmillan Canada


Price: $29.95

Page Count: 234 pp

Format: Cloth

ISBN: 0-7715-7622-6

Released: Dec.

Issue Date: 1999-1

Categories: Sports, Health & Self-help