Have you ever read a book about hockey? Or maybe a memoir by an NHL player? If not, you're missing out.
Hockey books can be incredibly engaging and informative, providing insights into the sport that you can't find anywhere else. They also make for great reading during the offseason, when there's not much NHL action to follow.
Check out our list of some of the best hockey books around and see for yourself!
Written by: Steve "Dangle" Glynn
Glynn became a Youtube star ranting and raving about how the Toronto Maple Leafs, a team to which he is devoted, constantly drives him crazy. However, the exciting part is how he goes to this point where he is famous and has moved to television. This starts with his constant drive to stay positive, outgoing, and entertaining. He is a person who wants to entertain and enliven any hockey fan's life.
As fans know, Glynn can be obnoxious, loud, and a bit insane. Even if you think he is a bore on tv, you will be able to appreciate the person who is so much more than just a persona. We loved that he could also delve deeper into the real guy. An example of that is when he writes about his mental health issues and deals with them.
Written by: Sean McIndoe
Many books will describe how the N.H.L. came to be and is the league it is today. However, most of those books only go into famous moments. McIndoe also shows lesser-known events, some good and some bad, that made it possible. And, when you read about the mistakes and utter ineptness in some cases, you'll also be amazed that it didn't disintegrate numerous times.
With a great sense of humor and the ability to pluck out the best of the best, you will love seeing the N.H.L. in a new light and be even more grateful it survived itself. This book is definitely for people that just want to laugh, learn a bit, and realize how lucky it is that we have the N.H.L. at all.
Written by: Mark Messier
Mark Messier is one of the most players in the sport's history. In his autobiography, he shows exactly what it took for him to succeed and advises on applying those qualities. He starts with being born to a father that praised him and coached him to be great on the ice and off of it.
The beauty of this book is that it isn't your usual party and scandal story; it is a book about a man who has stood by those morals throughout his life.
He frames the book using hockey games that he played and how they have helped guide him while trying to help the readers do the same. He also describes his spiritual side and the work that he does charity.
If you are feeling down in any way at all or having a tough time, this is the book for you as it will make you feel like you can overcome anything.
Written by: Bryan Smith
The Chicago Blackhawks were terrible for decades until Rocky Wirtz took them over and led them to three Stanley Cups in the 2010s. However, this is far from the story because this book goes back to when his grandfather, Arthur. Arthur was known for his many businesses around Chicago and was also known to be a horrible boss and incredibly tight with the dollar.
Therefore, not surprisingly, the team rarely won, had a small fan base, and basically was just a non-entity even though it was one of the first six teams in the N.H.L. When Bill, Rocky's dad, took over, things didn't get any better as he was more of the same.
Being that we know Rocky turned the franchise around, the other parts of the story, including the incredibly family member vs. family member and other drama surrounding the family, is even more enthralling. This is the reality of this family and team, warts and all.
Written by: Willie O'Ree, Michael McKinley
Willie O'Ree was the real deal. However, he couldn't get called up by his team, the Boston Bruins. Why? It was simply because he was an African American, and the N.H.L. wouldn't allow it. When he finally did get called up, he realized that his role, as the first was as essential for hockey as Jackie Robinson's for baseball.
He also realized that he would have to put up with taunting, racist epithets, and possible violence towards him just because of the color of his skin. And it wasn't just the fans. This also included the players from other teams who would try to hurt him physically.
After a career where he excelled, he was inducted into the N.H.L. Hall of Fame in 2018 and the N.H.L. Diversity program to help others succeed in his beloved game.
Written by: Brian Burke and Stephen Brunt
This personal and powerful book explores the life and career of one of hockey's most controversial and outspoken figures. Burke is known for his frank and unapologetic approach to the sport, and he doesn't shy away from discussing the controversial decisions he's made throughout his career. Burke's life is rather impressive considering everything he's accomplished and because of his mistakes.
And those mistakes are an important lesson because he shows how they helped him become better as he learned them. Most people know Burke as a tough guy, but he also has a soft side that he often doesn't share, including the loss of his youngest son in a car crash, among other issues.
This memoir is so much more than just a simple story about the man.
Written by: James Duthie
You may think you know everything about the N.H.L., but this book is going to put your knowledge to the test. It includes fifty-seven stories, many from some of or about the most famous players, coaches, reporters, announcers, and others. Duthie basically asked people to give them their favorite event, and then he wrote them down.
Some of these stories are hilarious, such as when he had to pay ten dollars for a light bulb in a motel when he was in the minor leagues. Others are incredibly touching as you follow the story of Laila Anderson, who battled a rare disease as she followed her St. Louis Blues to the cup in 2019.
Reading this book will make you feel like you are hanging out at a bar and just talking with buddies…however, these buddies have seen the reality of the N.H.L. and are ready to dish on it.
Written by: Rick Westhead
Joe Murphy had it made: The first college-educated player selected overall in the N.H.L. draft. He was going to be a star. And he was as the Edmonton Oilers won a championship. He had other great seasons, played on numerous teams, and always was beloved by teammates and fans. However, that all changed when he was body-checked one game.
Instead of seeing a doctor and getting treatment, he continued to play. However, people noticed a difference. His personality was changing, he started drinking and doing drugs, and his career and life fell apart. This book looks not only at his life but into the problems with Traumatic Brain Injury (which caused these issues) and how the N.H.L. seems to either turn a blind eye to the problem.
It is a story of a life gone wrong, and as of this printing, Murphy was homeless, so is still sad, and yet there is hope.
Written by: Hayley Wickenheiser
Anyone that knows about hockey knows Hayley Wickenheiser. There are way too many accolades, so here are just a few: thirteen World Championship appearances, six Olympic Games, and in the Hall of Fame. However, there is so much more to her than just these. During her time as a player, she also adopted a child, went to college, and eventually became a doctor.
The beauty of this book is that you get to see someone, who did everything possible to become the best, and she ended up doing it. Her constant drive to see the best in herself, others, and any situation, will inspire you and let you put some of her ideas into action for your own life.
Because women have so little voice in professional sports, this is a must-read for anyone.
Written by: Kaleb Dahlgren
On April 6, 2018, the Humboldt Broncos were going to a playoff game when a semi-truck struck their bus. The collision resulted in sixteen deaths and thirteen injuries. Among the victims was Kaleb Dahlgren, who suffered a fractured skull and dislocated shoulder. He ended up comatose for five days. This tragedy shook the hockey world and beyond.
Dahlgren tells his story of resilience in the face of tragedy. He describes his journey from being hospitalized in critical condition to making a full recovery and eventually returning to play for the Broncos. When you read about so many Canadians putting out hockey sticks on their porches to support the team, you will definitely shed a tear or two.
Written by: Fred Sasakamoose
As so many Native people had been before, Sasakamoose was taken from his home and sent to a residential school. However, he wouldn't let that hold him back. He played against some of the greatest in the league, but there is so much more to him than just that. He became the first Indigenous player to make the N.H.L., and this was before First Nations even had the right to vote.
After the N.H.L., he played in other teams throughout his life and married and had children. Instead of just being content playing, he became a band councilor and a chief. He worked to help indigenous people and their teams.
He worked with people to help them realize the dangers of drinking (which he started in the N.H.L.) and other issues. He has won too many awards to mention and accolades, and this book shows all his ups and downs during his life.
Even if you don't like hockey, this is a magnificent read just to understand the Native people's cultures and how the Canadian government treated them.
Written by: Mike Brophy
No matter if you follow the game or not, you've heard of Wayne Gretzky somewhere or sometime during your life. He simply is the greatest hockey player in the history of the sport. However, he wasn't all about himself, and his willingness to help teammates is what made him universally loved by all.
This book focuses on the 1981-1982 season in which he only needed thirty-nine games to score fifty goals. The fun of this book is that you get to be on the ice during each one of these games, as Gretzky describes them. There are also stories about other players on the team, and you understand why each person plays their part perfectly so he can achieve this "goal."
It is a fast-paced fantastic ride through the record-setting history of that year.
Written by: Bernie Saunders, Barry Meisel
We like to think that once a color barrier is broken, such as with Jackie Robinson with the L.A. Dodgers, that line is quickly erased. However, in the N.H.L., that was far from the truth as it took fifteen years for another Black man to be in the league after O'Ree played for it. This is the story of Bernie Saunders, who was that man.
When he was called up, he had to deal with much of the same abuse that O'Ree dealt with, including fans, opposition players, and even those on his team. He only played in the N.H.L. for two years because of these and other issues and decided to retire early.
He also includes information on other Black players and lots of fun newspaper and magazine clippings so you can get a feel for the times and his career.
Written by: Ron Davidson
No list on hockey would be complete without a book explaining how to master the most critical skills on how to play the game. Ron Davidson is as knowledgeable about it as anyone, and in this book, he gives his opinion on fifty skills that everyone should learn to master their game.
He breaks them down into four main sections, including fundamentals, different ways of skating, how to use your stick to be your best, and how to move and position your body. Using pictures and diagrams makes this book easy to digest and gives you the ability to see exactly what he writes about during each example.
Written by: stan Mikita
In his memoir, Mikita tells the story of his life as a professional hockey player—from his beginnings in Czechoslovakia to his time with the Chicago Blackhawks, one of the N.H.L.'s most iconic teams. Drawing on anecdotes and memories from teammates, opponents, and coaches, Mikita provides a unique perspective on the game of hockey and its place in American culture.
Incredibly, Mikita stayed with the Blackhawks for his whole twenty-two-year Hall of Fame career. Because of this, he either played with or against some of the greatest in the game. His knowledge of hockey and how the world changed with and around it is magnificent and enthralling.
This book is full of beautiful stories and adventures.
Written by: Jeremy Roenick
Jeremy Roenick is one of the most outspoken and fearless men in hockey. He'll go toe-to-toe with anyone, whether it's another player on the ice or an N.H.L. executive in a board meeting. He's never afraid to speak his mind, no matter who he's talking to or what the consequences may be.
And he's not afraid to dish out hard hits either – he's earned a reputation as one of the hardest hitters in the league. But despite all his toughness, J.R. was also one of the most likable players in the N.H.L. – his teammates love him, and opponents respect him.
In an eighteen-season career where he scored 513 goals and had 703 assists, that is only a tiny part of the person and how he impacted the game.
Written by: Clint Malarchuk and Dan Robson
Although Clint Malarchuk played in the N.H.L. for over a decade, most people know him for an accident on the ice that could have easily killed him. In The Crazy Game, Malarchuk tells his story of how he became a professional goalie and the near-fatal injury that almost ended his career. Despite the trauma of that experience, Malarchuk went on to play for several other teams before retiring in 1998.
This book provides an intimate look at the life of Malarchuk, as he opens up about his crippling anxiety and O.C.D., which caused him problems in school and afterward. You will get all the inside scoop of being a professional hockey player, from the thrill of victory to the agony of defeat.
It is an inspiring tale of resilience in the face of adversity.
Written by: Wayne Coffey
In 1980, the United States Olympic hockey team pulled off one of the greatest upsets in sports history, winning the first medal round match against the Soviet Union. This victory was partly due to the rink-smart coaching of Herb Brooks, whose motivational techniques have since been immortalized in the film Miracle. But there's more to the story than just a dramatic win on ice.
In The Boys of Winter, Wayne Coffey tells the entire tale of Brooks and his team, painting an intimate portrait of their years of hard work and determination—a true underdog story told with verve and affection. Interestingly enough, most people forget that the Gold medal was won when the U.S.A. played Finland and not the U.S.S.R.
Written by: Keith Gave
In the 1990s, the Detroit Red Wings were a hockey powerhouse, thanks in part to their "Russian Five" line-up. But how did these five Russian players end up playing for an American team? This is the story of espionage, defection, and bribery that brought them to Michigan. An example includes one player having to fake having cancer…which was only possible because of Red Wings' bribes behind the scenes.
It's also a story of courage – not only did these players have to leave their families and homes behind, but they had to adapt to a new culture and learn a new game to make it in the N.H.L. In the end, their success on the ice inspired other Russian players to come over to America and helped pave the way for future international cooperation in sports.
Written by: Ken Dryden
Published: 2003 (1983)
Named one of the top 10 sportsbooks ever written by Sports Illustrated, this is a must-read for any hockey or even sports fan. A goaltender who won six Stanley Cups with the Montreal Canadians, this book shows what it is like to be a player and a person. It is beautiful to see how his life evolved and how he became the incredible athlete that basically led his team to victory.
He seemed like he lived an ordinary and rather mundane lifestyle off the ice. He wasn't selfish or driven to fame like so many players of his time. For any true fan of hockey, you know that fighting is just a part of the sport, but he believes that it degrades the sport, and with all the information coming out about head injuries, he makes a critical point.
Beyond sports, he was in the Canadian Parliament from 2004 to 2011 and had a law degree from McGill University. His life is so much more than any reader could imagine.
Written by: Mike Eruzione, Neal E. Boudette
Being that the 1980 Olympic upset of the U.S.S.R. and then Finland was such a tremendous experience in the world during the Cold War, this list consists of two books on it. This team was primarily made up of nobodies and took down one of the greatest teams Russia had ever assembled for those who don't know.
Named the team's captain, Mike Eruzione also goes into his being raised almost dirt poor and his willingness to do whatever he needed to succeed. He is a perfect example of this team as each player may not be the best; they were perfect for the team attitude and would do whatever was needed to win.
Simply stated, this book is an ideal example of someone who was the epitome of Al Michael's famous "Do you believe in miracles? YES!" after they won against Russia.
Written by: John Branch
In 2010, Derek Boogaard was found dead in his Minneapolis apartment. The coroner ruled the death accidental due to mixed drug toxicity. But because of this book, many are questioning whether or not the famed N.H.L. enforcer's death was just a tragic accident.
Branch lays out a detailed account of Boogaard's life, from his childhood in rural Saskatchewan to his years as one of the most feared players in the N.H.L. After retiring from hockey in 2011, Boogaard descended into addiction and battled mental health issues.
This was probably due to brain injuries from fighting and being pounded on also. Tragically, he died at the incredibly young age of 28 years old. Not to shy away from this serious issue, Branch delves into the sport's history.
He also examines how little the N.H.L. seems to care about the players once their days are over.
Written by: Gordie Howe
Imagine being able to play your favorite sport over five decades, and then you'll get just a basic idea of the greatness of Hall of Famer Gordie Howe. Growing up during the depression taught him to be tough and that you must fight for everything you wanted, even though he was pretty shy at first. This attitude showed through his play, whether to support a friend or teammate or slam someone into the glass who wasn't playing by the rules.
It is interesting to see the difference when he delves into how different the game was when he was young regarding contracts, players getting paid scraps, and horrible travel conditions. He was also very generous with his time for others off the ice, which redeems his on the ice play. Sadly, at the end of his life, he had dementia, and his family wraps up the book.
Written by: John Scott and Brian Cazeneuve
John Scott is the kind of guy you root for. He was undrafted out of college, working a blue-collar job at a chemical plant before finally landing in the N.H.L. as an enforcer. He paid his dues on the ice and in the locker room, battling opponents and teammates alike with his fists and a smile, although the opposition may not have felt the same about him.
However, this story is so much more than that as it is about a true underdog. Because Scott was primarily an enforcer, there was no chance he'd ever make an All-Star game. However, he was nominated, almost as a joke for the team, and won. The N.H.L. was embarrassed and did everything they could to stop it, including demoting him to a lower league.
The fans wouldn't have any of this, so they fought back, and he was included...and then he won the game M.V.P. title with two goals. It would be unbelievable if it weren't fact.
Written by: The Hockey News with photography by Bruce Bennett
If you're a hockey fan, The Hockey News: Hockey's Greatest Photos: The Bruce Bennett Collection is a must-have book. Published in conjunction with the N.H.L., this coffee table book is filled with stunning images of some of the greatest moments in hockey history.
This book is a treasure trove for hockey fans, from iconic shots of Wayne Gretzky and Bobby Orr to lesser-known moments captured on film. Whether you're flipping through the pages at random or savoring each photo in sequence, you will be enthralled and unable to set this book down until you see them all.