Tropic of Hockey: My Search for the Game in Unlikely Places

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Press:The Lyons Press Lyons Press; 1st edition (April 1, 2002)
Publication Date:2002-04-01
ISBN:9781585744640
Author Name:Dave Bidini
Language:English

Content

From Toronto to China, Dubai to Transylvania and back, a hilarious, moving account of one man's quest for "pure hockey."  On a hot summer's day in 1998, when Dave Bidini found himself watching Martha Stewart rather than the Stanley Cup playoffs, he knew that something was seriously amiss: The game he loved had crossed the line. 
It was now an entertainment, not a sport.
A passionate hockey fan and rec player, Bidini immediately resolved to follow Canada's best export to the rest of the world, to find out whether the true game still existed elsewhere.
His quest took him to a rink on the eighth floor of a shopping mall in Hong Kong; to the gritty city of Harbin in Northern China, where a game much like hockey has been played for six hundred years; to Dubai in the desert of The United Arab Emirates, where hockey is brand-new and incredulous Bedouin drop by the Al Ain rink to wonder at the ice; and to Transylvania, where the game was introduced in the 1920s by a ten-second newsreel of Canadians chasing after a puck, and where it is now played as a vicarious war between Romanians and ethnic Hungarians.
In Tropic of Hockey, Bidini weaves hilarious stories of encounters with rinks and players of wildly different talents and experiences with tales of his travels and spot-on observations about the game and players.
(6 x 9, 320 pages, b&w photos)

From Library Journal

The goal of Canadian hockey enthusiast, writer, and musician Bidini was to see whether the true game existed outside of North America. 
Technically, the game is played consistently around the globe; the real question was the cultural imperatives players brought to the game.
Bidini's travelog is thus a humorous cultural expos‚ of people and how they play the game.
The adventure included stops in China, Singapore, the Philippines, a rink on the eighth floor of a mall in Hong Kong, the desert city of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, and Transylvania (in Romania), where hockey remains a war between rival ethnic groups.
The result is a delightful read that both armchair travelers and aficionados will enjoy.
Recommended for public libraries and all sports collections.
Larry R.
Little, Penticton P.L., B.C.Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Devoted to a low-scoring sport impossible for neophytes to follow on TV, hockey fans are a breed apart--and not one restricted to northern Euro-American precincts. 
After a chance encounter in 1986 with a "spectral figure from Canada's game" in a small Georgia town, Bidini reconnected with the sport of his youth.
More recently, disenchanted with the NHL's fascination with "the Trap, a form of hockey which is .
.
.
the equivalent of playing Pong," he searched the world around for hockey "as it was before .
.
.
the pro game had betrayed tradition for quick-buck teams and a style that relied more on chalkboard patterns than spontaneous, tongue-wagging, river play." He found it.
In China, Transylvania, and the United Arab Emirates (!) were players and fans whose passion was much closer to his ideal.
At his odyssey's end--"a rink in the coldest town in Romania"--Bidini immersed himself in the game and its reassuringly cross-cultural appeal.
A just-plain-good sports book, must reading for hockey fans.
Hey! No crosschecking in the stacks! Mike TribbyCopyright © American Library Association.
All rights reserved

Review

"Very acute, very funny. 
A great read."--Roger Kahn, author of The Boys of Summer

From the Back Cover

On a hot summer’s day in 1998, when Dave Bidini found himself watching Martha Stewart rather than the Stanley Cup playoffs, he knew that something was seriously amiss: The game he loved had crossed the line. 
It was now an entertainment, not a sport.
A passionate hockey fan and rec player, Bidini immediately resolved to follow Canada’s best export to the rest of the world, to find out whether the true game still existed elsewhere.
His quest took him to a rink on the eighth floor of a shopping mall in Hong Kong—a rink encircled by a fierce dragon-headed roller coaster—to the gritty city of Harbin in Northern China, where a game much like hockey has been played for six hundred years; to Dubai, in the desert of the United Arab Emirates, where hockey is brand-new, and incredulous Bedouin drop by the Al Ain rink to wonder at the ice; and to Transylvania, where the game was introduced in the 1920s by a ten-second newsreel of Canadians chasing after a puck, and where it is now played as a vicarious war between Romanians and ethnic Hungarians.In Tropic of Hockey, Bidini weaves hilarious stories of encounters with odd-sized rinks and players of wildly different talents and experiences with tales of his travels and spot-on observations about the game and players in North America.
And he discovers that the tropic of hockey connects players and fans around the world in a celebration of the game—not to mention the profanity, the exhilaration, and the moments of grace that enrich it.

About the Author

Dave Bidini's first book was 1998's critically acclaimed On a Cold Road. 
When he is not playing hockey, Bidini is rhythm guitarist for the much-loved Canadian rock band, the Rheostatics.
He lives with his wife and daughter in Toronto.

Tags

Sports & Outdoors,Hockey,Miscellaneous,Essays,Winter Sports



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Comment List (Total:5)

  •     I was like Dave that got bored of hockey, his book was interesting and entertaining.His writing style is probably not for all, but I enjoy it.This is a man that truly admires the game, and although his hockey skills are not the top of the class, he certainly knows how to have people understand what he is looking for on his travels and the joys he gets from meeting people that also love the great game on ice.
  •     This book ranks with Ken Dryden's books, The Game and Home Game, and Jack Falla's Home Ice as being among the best hockey books I've read, and I've read a ton. Tropic of Hockey is equal parts travel journal (with visits to China, the United Arab Emirates, and Romania), hockey manifesto (weighing in on topics as diverse as the Hungarian invention of the blocker and Wendel Clark), and bawdy anecdote collection (particular highlights are Chinese bathrooms and hockey equipment adjustment). Dave Bidini manages to do all expertly and interchangeably, creating a book that's difficult to put down. The cover of my edition has a quote from Roy MacGregor, a dean of Canadian hockey writing, that calls Bidini, "The Bill Bryson of hockey writing," which is not only a good comparison, but a deserved compliment. Highly recommended for both hockey fans and people who enjoy entertaining non-fiction.
  •     I love sports books like this. The author does a good job finding places where you wouldn't think hockey is played. I enjoyed the book.
  •     Anyone who can't resist the chance to spend their free time packing a giant bag of stinking equipment and heading to a hockey rink at hours other people reserve for sleeping or partying can understand.Dave Bidini finds the same love for hockey in China, Dubai, and Romania, from the beginners to the town favorites. I play hockey in Yokohama, and having travelled with the navy I've found myself hunting rinks in places like Hong Kong, Singapore, Bahrain, and Dubai. His descriptions of the ex-pats, the passionate beginners and intermediate players, the social interactions, and the contrasts and similarities and ups and downs is right on. Not only that, it's a funny, honest book.Highly recommended for anyone who has forgotten the pure joy of learning the game, not to mention the value of basic facilities, equipment, and opportunity many take for granted.
  •     Interesting concept and presents a face on the game in places you might not expect. That said, I found the author's occasional and not-so-subtle remarks about Canada's relationship to the game to be eye-rolling and condescending. Yes, we get it, Canada loves hockey in a way that no other country does, but you can relate that without putting down hockey in other places. This was especially present in his discussion about the Foxes: apparently seeing a competitive hockey team from New Jersey was strange to him? Not to mention the overbearing detour about how much he loves Wendel Clark and the Maple Leafs.
 

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