THAT OLD GANG OF MINE
Volume 11 Number 3.
Scott Young's credentials as a hockey writer are well established with such books as The Leafs I Knew, Canada Cup 1976, and the latest instalment of Punch Imlach's memoirs,Heaven and Hell in the NHL. Unfortunately, his most recent hockey novel is a disappointment.
When Canada's hockey team is killed in a plane crash scant weeks before the Moscow Olympics, Pete Gordon, assistant to the Minister for Sport and Recreation, Myra Cope (Iona Campagnolo?), rounds up members of his old Winnipeg high school team, plus a few others, to step into the breach. The flamboyant Parley Fitzgerald, recently fired as coach of the Boston Bruins (Don Cherry?), is persuaded to take on the task of moulding this aggregation into a disciplined, effective team able to challenge Europe's best. Though only a few of the players have NHL potential, the team racks up success after success and ultimately wins the gold medal.
Despite dollops of sex (Myra and Parley, a player, and a CBC reporter, a West German house of ill repute in which another player, a born-again Christian, succumbs to temptation), heavy drinking and four-letter words, the novel never really comes to life. Though the book reads easily enough, the author's device of having one of the players, Sean Singh ("he had an Irish mother"), carry some of the narrative load by means of a diary seems forced, and none of the characters can truly be said to have any depth. Suspense created when the KGB attempt to plant drugs on one of Canada's best players is allowed to dissipate when the plot is foiled not by Canadian ingenuity but by the security officer assigned to the Russian team. To his credit, Young does not portray Canadian tactics on the ice as being entirely sportsman-like.
While the unheralded victory of the U.S. Olympic team at Lake Placid in 1980 may warrant a miracle team's "rags-to-riches" story, Canada's decided lack of success in past Olympic play with teams very similar to Pete Gordon's makes the idea of its winning a gold medal seem rather farfetched. Not recommended.
Paul E. Blower, Sault Ste. Marie P. L., Sault Ste. Marie, ON.
1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995
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