Total Hockey: The Official
Encyclopedia of the National Hockey League
Total Sports; 1,888 pages;
A volume with the heft of a newborn (6¼ pounds), Total Hockey is a delightful and highly useful reference work for the common fan. Years from now puckheads will wonder how they got along before Total Hockey put a sag in their shelves.
Assembled by Total Sports, the same company that blessed us with Total Football and Total Baseball, Total Hockey provides the vital statistics of every player who has appeared in the NHL since the league was formed in 1917 It also takes an expansive look at the game in articles by no fewer than 72 contributors from eight nations. While the writing is inconsistent and too often bland, the research is exhaustive. There are pieces on the origins of hockey as well as historical essays on every NHL franchise, from the peerless Montreal Canadiens to the hapless Pittsburgh Pirates, who played five seasons in the 1920s and never made the playoffs. A 115-page section is devoted to the international game, other essays explore the roles of women and minorities in the sport, and in one insightful and eminently readable entry Philadelphia Flyers coach Roger Neilson and former Vancouver Canucks coach Harry Neale explicate such arcane strategies as the "quick breakout with counter-pinching" and the "left-wing lock."
Thanks to quirky chapters with titles like "The Old Bootheel" (i.e., the puck), the book is a browser's dream. A little leisurely cross-referencing reveals that left wing Frank (Seldom) Beaton was actually a defensive liability in his 25 games with the New York Rangers from 1978 to '80, and the reader will learn (or be reminded) that there have been not one but two forward lines that went by the honorable nickname Willy, Billy and Silly.
Amazingly for a volume of this scope, not a single page is given over to the rules of the game—an omission so blatant that it defies explanation. The book also could have covered the NHL's champions more comprehensively. The rosters of every Stanley Cup winner aren't included but should be, and each coach's statistical profile should indicate if he guided a team to a championship. Readers may also find other reasons to quibble—that's half the fun, eh?—but not enough to significantly diminish Total Hockey's welcome weight. This is a book every hockey fan, even a casual one, should own.
The U.S. women's volleyball team's swift exit from last month's world championships pats it in danger of not qualifying for the 2000 Olympics. SI reporter Bev Oden, a member of the American team from March '94 through October '96, examines what ails it.
I believe our loss to Cuba in the quarterfinals at the Atlanta Olympics contributed to pushing U.S. women's volleyball toward the abyss. I am reminded of that every time I see soccer star Mia Hamm advertising shampoo on TV or girls wearing WNBA standout Teresa Weatherspoon's jersey at New York Liberty games. The overdue celebration of women's sports has arrived, and volleyball has missed out.
The American women's ice hockey team's gold medal performance earlier this year in Nagano gave rise to a proposal for a North American pro league. Conversely, the volleyball team's poor showing in Atlanta caused national-team sponsors Champion and Ricoh to pull out. The loss of funding sent player salaries plummeting from a 1996 high of about $80,000 for leading players to the current top salary of less than $20,000. My teammates and I all earned enough to afford our own apartments near our training facility in San Diego. By early '97 the team was forced to move into dorms at the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center. This change wasn't likely to entice many veterans—several of whom were married—to stay with the team. Of the 12 Atlanta Olympians, five are now playing professionally overseas, one switched to the beach game, and six (including me) have retired.