Pub date: October 14, 2014
Finalist, 2015 Toronto Book Awards
On May 2, 1967, Montreal and Toronto faced each other in a battle for hockey supremacy. This was only the fifth time the teams had ever played each other in the Stanley Cup finals. Toronto led the series 3-2.
But this wasn’t simply a game. From the moment Foster Hewitt announced “Hello, Canada and hockey fans in the United States,” the game became a turning point in sports history. That night, the Leafs would win the Cup. The next season, the National Hockey League would expand to twelve teams. Players would form an association to begin collective bargaining. Hockey would become big business. The NHL of the “Original Six” would be a thing of the past.
It was The Last Hockey Game.
Placing us in the announcers’ booth, in the seats of excited fans, and in the skates of the players, Bruce McDougall scores with a spectacular account of every facet of that final fateful match. As we meet players such as Gump Worsley, Tim Horton, Terry Sawchuk, and Eddie Shack, as well as coaches, owners, and fans, The Last Hockey Game becomes more than a story of a game. It also becomes an elegy, a lament for an age when, for all its many problems, the game was played for the love of it.
"There can be no question after reading this excellent addition to hockey's literary canon that our game isn't now and will never be the same as it was then." — Winnipeg Free Press
"[A] vivid, well-researched analysis of the then-impending cultural and commercial transformation of the National Hockey League." — Publishers Weekly
"McDougall painstakingly reconstructs that single season-ending game while interweaving flashbacks that explore NHL history plus the eventful hockey careers and sometimes troubled lives of stalwarts such as Leafs’ goaltender Terry Sawchuk, Dave Keon and Frank Mahovlich as well as Henri ‘Pocket Rocket’ Richard, John Ferguson and Jean Beliveau of the Canadiens." — Toronto Star
"A testament to an era in hockey with few limits, and characters who weren’t afraid to push them." — wewantacup.com
"I saw this game, and I have to say that the book is even better. The Last Hockey Game has all the inside innocence, ego, snubbed cigars, honest scars, and pro-gossip from the glory days when the NHL was about to lose its virginity." — Bill Gaston, author of Midnight Hockey and Juliet Was a Surprise
"It’s about a game and its players, employees in a trade where even excellent work guaranteed nothing, least of all fair treatment, yet they played their hearts out, for the love of the game. But the question you’ll ask yourself most often is: ‘How did he find that out?" — Jean-Patrice Martel, author of On the Origin of Hockey and former president, Society for International Hockey Research
“I love it. Lovely stuff.” —Trent Frayne, former sportswriter and member, Hockey Hall of Fame
“Excellent!” —Terry Clancy, former Toronto Maple Leaf