Book Review: Ken Dryden’s The Game

The Game by Ken Dryden. Next up in my reading challenge including some nostalgia from my past. Hockey cards, old video games, and a sketch of the Canadien’s logo.

A little preamble before I review the book. At the onset of this little reading challenge / project I set for myself I knew that writing book reviews was something that didn’t interest me. It didn’t interest me as a result of being quiet, introverted, and either not feeling like I could write one or that no one would really be interested. Part of the path of mindfulness has meandered through vulnerability and being open so here we are being more open with my life. The second point about nobody being interested was more difficult but I’ve since learned that the whole purpose of writing these things is simply for myself and a form of creative expression. So we are here through the process of putting myself out there and doing this for myself.

This will be my second book review and I have to say that an unanticipated positive has come as a result. I’m actually caring more about the stuff I read. It sounds silly because don’t get me wrong I enjoy the books I read but there is something a bit more interactive and in-depth knowing you will write a small review at the end. You pay attention to things more closely. Points that interest you tend to stand out more later on when I’ve put the book down. It’s not a huge change but something more subtle. An unintended positive of writing book reviews if you ever consider it yourself. Even if it’s just for yourself.

Ken Dryden’s The Game is plain and simply a good book. One of the more interesting biographies I’ve read about a sport that as a kid I loved. Having never played I was the ultimate fan knowing everything and anything about hockey. Besides having thousands of hockey cards I loved tracking stats and playing ball hockey out on the street or even hand ball hockey down in the basement on our knees!

“When you are a presence, there are many things you need not do, for it is simply understood you can do them. So you don’t do them. You don’t risk what you need not risk, you let others’ imaginations do them for you, for they do them better than you can. Like the man who opens his mouth to prove he’s a fool, often the more you do, the more you look like everyone else.” – Ken Dryden, The Game

This book covers the period of a week before Ken Dryden prepares to retire from hockey covering his personal history but even more interesting the life inside the locker room, the players, and challenges of being on the road. Written back in the 1980’s it vividly brought to mind the television show 24/7: Road to the Winter Classic where you get a glimpse into the life of hockey players and suddenly it becomes even more real. Hockey players are clearly paid an extraordinary amount of money and yet there is something very humanizing and relatable about a job that takes you away from your family for more than half the year needing to maintain a certain level of mental and physical conditioning and the stresses that come from being in such an intense sport. Ken Dryden has captured that through his stories on the ice and the describing and recalling the players he played alongside.

The era was before my time and yet the story can be transposed into any time frame and that was one of the strengths. So reading about players I saw play in the tail end of their careers felt as though I was recalling stories of the players I grew up watching. If you are a hockey fan of any sorts this is a must read.

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