One hot afternoon in 1998, Dave Bidini – who loves hockey, watches it, plays it, and breathes it – found the Stanley Cup final so tedious to watch that at one point he clicked channels to Martha Stewart – and never switched back. This made him wonder where in the world the game might exist free of the complications of professional sport. He set out to find the tropic of hockey.
His quest took him to a rink on the seventh storey of a mall in Hong Kong – a rink encircled by a dragon-headed roller coaster – and to the gritty city of Harbin in northern China, where a version of hockey has been played for 600 years; to Dubai in the desert of the United Emirates, where hockey is brand new and incredulous Bedouin drop by the Al Ain rink to touch the ice; and to Transylvania, where the game is a war between Romanians and ethnic Hungarians, who were introduced to hockey by a 1929 newsreel of Canadians chasing the puck.
Bidini’s encounters with odd-sized rinks and players of wildly different talents and experiences have inspired him to interweave his stories of hockey in unlikely places with funny and eyebrow-raising stories about places and players back in Canada. As a bonus, readers are also treated to some striking observations about the game, its fans, and the testosterone, the profanity, and the moments of grace that enrich it.
Author and musician Dave Bidini is the only person to have been nominated for a Gemini, Genie and Juno as well CBC's Canada Reads. A founding member of Rheostatics, he has written 10 books, including On a Cold Road, Tropic of Hockey, Around the World in 57 1/2 Gigs, and Home and Away. He has made two Gemini Award-nominated documentaries and his play, the Five Hole Stories, was staged by One Yellow Rabbit Performance Company, touring the country in 2008. His third book, Baseballissimo, is being developed for the screen by Jay Baruchel, and, in 2010, he won his third National Magazine Award, for "Travels in Narnia." He writes a weekly column for the Saturday Post and, in 2011, he published his latest book, Writing Gordon Lightfoot.
“One of the best books on the game this country has seen since Ken Dryden’s The Game…conversational, compelling, funny and raw. Not to mention literate and studied.”
“This year’s best hockey book”
–Globe and Mail
“By travelling the world…Bidini renews his faith in this Canadian game. And with it, ours.”
“…stands above the bookshelf in terms of page-turning imagination.”