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Stole This from a Hockey Card

A Philosophy of Hockey, Doug Harvey, Identity and Booze

by (author) Chris Robinson

Nightwood Editions
Initial publish date
Sep 2005
Popular Culture, Hockey
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2005
    List Price

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Stole This from a Hockey Card is a thinking-fan's hockey book that strikes just the right note for those disillusioned by today's NHL.

Chris Robinson pushes the bounds of both hockey writing and creative non-fiction in this hard-boiled contemplation of where hockey fits into a man's life--whether he be a casual beer-league player who first embraced the game to avoid a difficult home-life, or one of the most celebrated defencemen in the history of the game.

Partly influenced by the life of legendary Montreal Canadiens defenceman Doug Harvey, Stole This from a Hockey Card probes for answers to how one of the game's greatest defencemen could also lead one of the most tragic and mysterious personal lives. The book juxtaposes these investigations with the author's own humble beginnings as a troubled youth who found escape in the cardboard identities put forth by hockey cards and by his own identity as a street-hockey hotshot. Another means of escape for both men became alcohol, a facet of hockey culture thoroughly explored by Robinson's skeptical eye. Informing everything is Robinson's scrappy-yet-meditative, harsh-yet-humorous thoughts on a game that so many Canadians love to hate, or hate to love.

About the author

Chris Robinson is an author, freelance writer and the Artistic Director of the Ottawa International Animation Festival. He writes the "gonzo" column "The Animation Pimp" for Animation World Magazine. His writing has also appeared in, Take One, Cinemascope, Montage, Stop Smiling, the Ottawa Xpress and many international publications. His other books include Between Genius and Utter Illiteracy: A Story of Estonian Animation, Ottawa Senators: Great Stories from the NHL's First Dynasty, and Unsung Heroes of Animation. Robinson lives in Ottawa with his wife, Kelly, and son, Jarvis.

Chris Robinson's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"Chris Robinson's story storms and struts, zigzags to and fro like a sharp give-and-go. Stole This From a Hockey Card is a barbed and brutal knockout."
-- Mark Anthony Jarman, author of Salvage King, Ya! and 19 Knives

Mark Anthony Jarman

"Using hockey--its history, its lore, its on-the-ice actuality--as a means of framing, structuring, 'getting a handle on' one's own life is a brilliant caprice. But more than literary whim, in the hands of Chris Robinson this approach begets page after riveting page of hot-dang copy--and makes such perfect sense it feels inevitable. A doozy of a book!"
-- Richard Meltzer, author of Autumn Rhythm and A Whore Just Like the Rest

Richard Meltzer

"If good research means doing a lot of work, putting the fruits of research to work is an art. [In Stole This from a Hockey Card], Robinson proves himself not only adept at digging up facts and quotes, he's wonderful at selecting real zingers... Besides revealing his own hang-ups with alcohol, Robinson lets us in on just how much Harvey put away, fooling even his fellow players with his capacity for booze... The parallel stories of death and redemption unfold as smoothly as ice behind a Zamboni."
-- Heidi Greco, subTerrain


"A raw and unique approach to the sports biography."
-- Kim Mannix Vermette, Metro Ottawa

Metro Ottawa

"Doug Harvey was one of a kind during his remarkable career, in that his brilliance on the ice was constant despite his battles off it. Chris Robinson captures both sides of this great defenceman with the accuracy of a Harvey slapshot."
-- Red Fisher, Montreal Gazette

Red Fisher

"Warning: This is not your average hockey book... The structure of the book is great, in that it effortlessly slides back and forth between Harvey and Robinson's life. The author's prose is punchy, and often profane, but jarring in its honesty... a great read for those interested in the nature of addiction, or who want to learn more about the life and tortured legacy of one of the greatest players to play the game."
-Jim Barber,

Jim Barber,

"Robinson draws parallels between his own troubled past and that of epic defenceman Doug Harvey... The result is a biography cum memoir that should find resonance with many Canadians... Robinson reaches a high level of sports biography... creating an exquisite patchwork of sports, personal narrative and manic alcoholism that is tragic in its normalcy."
- Janine Armin, The Globe and Mail

The Globe and Mail

"Puck lit (books about hockey) thrives in Canada, but a lot of hockey books are fluffy and overly nostalgic. Few bite with much honesty, and few are very critical of big-league hockey in particular. Bill Gaston's Midnight Hockey and local lad Chris Robinson's Stole This from a Hockey Card break from the tradition. Both are rock-solid books... Stole This from a Hockey Cardis part biography of Doug Harvey, part autobiography of Chris Robinson, part hockey critique, part dissection of human weaknesses, and partly an examination of how alcohol keeps us together while having the potential to shatter us completely. Balancing it and merging it all in one smart and snappy book is Robinson's coup."
-- Matthew Firth, Ottawa XPress

Ottawa XPress

"...[T]he philosophical part of the book is what makes this book stand out. The narrator has lots to say about family and growing up, how parents do their best, impart their personalities but the kids eventually find their own way. This, in a hockey sense, reminds me of Canadian rocker Neil Young's biography: Shakey. Jimmie McDonough has a good time picking away at ol Neil. And so Robinson does with Harvey."
- John Stiles, How Ya Doon?

John Stiles, How Ya Doon?

Other titles by Chris Robinson