The upcoming Stanley Cup Finals is perfectly timed to Pat Garrity’s review of Ken Dryden’s The Game. Dryden recounts "a week during the 1978-1979 hockey season. Dryden used that otherwise unremarkable week as a means to reflect memorably on the life and times of a professional athlete, in what is perhaps the best first-hand account ever written." No ghost writer, by the way, he wrote it himself. Pat writes a very fine review of one of the great books on sports, not merely on hockey, but The Game. Dryden was a great goalie, perhaps the best ever, a genuine star. Like Jim Brown, or Sandy Koufax, Garrity writes,
"Dryden likewise left hockey at the peak of his career, after only eight seasons (including his first abbreviated season, when he won the Most Valuable Player award for Stanley Cup playoffs). The season described in The Game would be his last. He did not write the book until four years later, after rummaging through notes he had jotted down on the back of envelopes and hotel stationary over the years. Dryden focused his narrative on this particular week because it involved a critical regular season game against Montreal’s emerging rival, the New York Islanders, but also because it was about this time that he made his decision to retire. He explained that he wrote the book not in order to understand why he retired at the peak of his career, but quite the opposite: to understand why he played professional hockey as long as he did. Dryden said he originally signed a pro contract with the idea of earning enough money to put himself through law school. He had no idea that he would become as good as he did but that was not why he played. In the end, he decided, he stayed because he loved ’the game,’ not the sport, the money, or the fame."
Read the rest of the review. It is good, really good.