8vo. pp. xix, 288. b/w text illustrations. bds. dw. [Toronto]: McClelland & Stewart Ltd., .
One hot afternoon in 1998, Dave Bidini – who loves hockey, watches it, plays it, and breathes it – found the Stanley Cup final so tedious to watch that at one point he clicked channels to Martha Stewart – and never switched back. This made him wonder where in the world the game might exist free of the complications of professional sport. He set out to find the tropic of hockey.
His quest took him to a rink on the seventh storey of a mall in Hong Kong – a rink encircled by a dragon-headed roller coaster – and to the gritty city of Harbin in northern China, where a version of hockey has been played for 600 years; to Dubai in the desert of the United Emirates, where hockey is brand new and incredulous Bedouin drop by the Al Ain rink to touch the ice; and to Transylvania, where the game is a war between Romanians and ethnic Hungarians, who were introduced to hockey by a 1929 newsreel of Canadians chasing the puck.
Bidini’s encounters with odd-sized rinks and players of wildly different talents and experiences have inspired him to interweave his stories of hockey in unlikely places with funny and eyebrow-raising stories about places and players back in Canada. As a bonus, readers are also treated to some striking observations about the game, its fans, and the testosterone, the profanity, and the moments of grace that enrich it.