CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 5 . . . . October 6, 2017
The arrival of Paul Romanuk's annual Hockey Superstars reminds readers of all ages that another season of National Hockey League hockey is almost upon us. With the 2017-2018 edition, Romanuk, a sports broadcaster and author, maintains the annual's familiar "sandwich" format. Again, the "meat" portion consists of 16 pairs of glossy pages, with the rectos resembling oversized hockey cards bearing an action, full colour photo of one of the volume's superstars. This year's entries are arranged alphabetically from the Washington Capitals' center Nicklas Backstrom to the Montreal Canadiens' defenseman Shea Weber. Romanuk has maintained featuring a seventeenth star on the book's cover. The Toronto Maple Leafs' Auston Matthews, who was selected first overall in the 2016 Entry Draft and who won the Calder Trophy as the NHL Rookie of the Year, is the cover photo with the two column text about him once again appearing on the cover's verso. The major text for the other NHL stars, which appears on the page facing the player's photo, usually speaks to happenings related to the player's previous NHL season and includes quotes by or about the player, with one comment being highlighted and bolded. For example, Brent Burns, a defenseman for the San Jose Sharks, stands out on the ice not just for his excellent play but also because of his toothless smile and long, unkempt beard, something he addresses: "Yeah, I get asked about my look a lot I guess. I walk around with it, so I'm stuck with it. It's all good. I don't mind it. I'll get the teeth fixed when I'm done playing. I couldn't grow a beard for a long time. So, I'm enjoying it."
"Did You Know?" and "Hockey Memories" can be found at the bottom of the text page, with both providing brief snippets of information about the page's focal player. For example, the "Did You Know?" about the Vancouver Canucks' Bo Horvat informs readers that "Bo is from Rodney, Ontario, a small farming community about 50 km [30 miles] from London with a population of just over a thousand. When he was picked in the first round of the 2013 entry draft, almost the entire town showed up at the local arena to celebrate." The "Hockey Memories"are wide-ranging in their content. For instance, the Ottawa Senators's Swedish defenseman Erik Karlsson recalled his birthplace: "In my hometown [Landsbro's population is under 1500] there isn't much more than an ice rink. There's a grocery store and a pizzeria. It had an awesome pizza called the 'Swedish Special' with raw onions and kebab sauce. Most of my memories are of being at the rink." On the other hand, winger Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks recalls the thrill of being an Olympian: "Playing in the Olympics for your country is unbelievable. You've got 300 million people at your back., rooting and cheering for you. It's not just Chicago vs. Detroit or Chicago vs. St. Louis, where it's just two cities. Instead, all of the cities in the United States are cheering for you. It's amazing." On the action photo page, Romanuk provides the player's stats for the previous season as well as his draft ranking and first NHL team, date and place of birth, position, height and weight (Metric and Imperial units) plus shooting/catching handedness.
Of the NHL's now 31 teams, 15 are represented in this edition of Hockey Superstars, with just two teams, the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Winnipeg Jets, each having a pair of entries. Like last year's edition, players who are wingers and centers dominate, constituting 11 of the entries with the remainder consisting of four defensemen and two goalies. The book's superstars are a mixture of established veterans and relative newcomers, with players like the Penguins' Sidney [no longer the 'Kid"?] Crosby, the Capitals' Nicklas Backstrom and the Canadiens' Shea Weber falling into the former category, and players such as the Jets' Patrik Laine, the Leafs's Mitch Marner and the Canucks' Bo Horvat representing the latter. As always, there are holdovers from the previous year's edition who have continued to shine, and these include the Flames' Johnny Gaudreau, the Oilers' Connor McDavid and the afore-mentioned Brent Burns and Sidney Crosby.
The book's sandwich "bread" is again made up of two sections of matte pages which principally provide brief, point form information about the NHL teams, end of season stats, NHL awards, and 18 referee signals, or the pages offer the book's readers opportunities to record information as the season proceeds or to make predictions about individual players or team outcomes. A new addition introduced in last year's edition and located on the book's last page is "Superstars of the Future?" which lists the first six picks of the 2017 Entry Draft, with photos of two, Nico Hischier and Nolan Patrich, selections one and two in the draft. Romanuk wasn't as effusive about this year's draft as he was about the previous one, saying, "The 2017 NHL Entry Draft didn't feature top picks with rare talent like that of Austom Matthews or Patrick Laine from the 2016 draft, but there were still some very good players you might want to keep an eye on in the coming seasons."
The reader participation "bread" portions reinforce that Hockey Superstars 2017-2018 is more likely an individual "home" purchase, but copies in public and school libraries will also circulate well.
Dave Jenkinson, CM's editor, lives in Winnipeg, MB, the home of the NHL's Winnipeg Jets.