Hockey is more than a game. It's more than a way of life. In Canada, it's a portrait of who we are. It's a window into our very soul.
In The Meaning of Puck, bestselling author Bruce Dowbiggin takes a peek into that window and - frankly - it's not always such a pretty picture. Viewed through the prism of hockey, Canada is, Dowbiggin argues, a land of compelling and surprising - even ugly and embarrassing - contradictions.
In a series of essays that is a road trip across the nation's cultural landscape, he shows how the national passion of hockey reflects - or deflects - the issues of globalization, regionalism, anti-Americanism, militarism, violence, racism and greed.
Why are Canadians, for instance, such strenuous advocates of pacifism and non-militarism around the world while simultaneously embracing - and promoting - the world's most vicious and violent brand of hockey? It's not the Americans who popularize violence in hockey. It's us.
Dowbiggin comes to terms with the absurd hero worship of The Great One. Or why Canadians so smugly spoof American ignorance while making a cultural icon of Don Cherry. Is it because in a nation without rules or standards he still stands for something, however distasteful?
The Meaning of Puck is a funny, acidic, irreverent, argumentative and often infuriating but always thought-provoking look into the fabric of a nation straining to keep old traditions alive and incorporate new national myths.
Bruce Dowbiggin is a critically acclaimed sports journalist whose many award-winning works include Money Players: How Hockey's Greatest Stars Beat the NHL at Its Own Game, Of Ice and Men and The Stick: A History, A Celebration, an Elegy. His work in radio and television has twice won him the Gemini Award for Excellence in sports broadcasting.