Monday, October 24, 2011

A Book Review - Pucks On The 'Net by Joe Pelletier

It is said variety is the spice of life. If this is indeed fact, hockey fans who also enjoy the written word, will be in for a treat with the latest effort from author Joe Pelletier. The recently released Pucks On The 'Net, is a wonderful read for anyone who possesses a love for the history of the game. It is a delightful collection of hockey stories and the characters who brought them to life.

This is Pelletier's first venture into the world of e-book publishing. In today's digital environment, some people still resist the rapid rise of technology. In a changing marketplace, the e-book is gaining popularity with each passing day. It is allowing more work to be produced, thus enhancing selection choices for the buying public. As with any consumer product, quality remains the number one requirement. For the reader of Pucks On The 'Net, the format is secondary as the content quickly becomes the main focus.

Pucks On The 'Net opens with the reader becoming acquainted with the author. In a section called Personal Stories, Pelletier reveals hockey memories from his childhood to present day. There are eight stories under this heading, each covering a different aspect of Pelletier's association with the sport. Two of the best are Two Minutes For Booking and Thank You Jack Falla.

As the title indicates, Pelletier delves into his love of hockey books in Two Minutes For Booking. He fondly recalls visiting the library at age six with his mother and exploring new surroundings. Not satisfied with kid books, he moved over to the Young Adult collection. There before him, stacked on shelves, was a vision that brought joy and happiness. As Pelletier put it, "I'm talking real hockey books about real hockey players and real NHL teams." The story continues as young Joe discovers the Adult section where there are even more books.

Fast forward to 2008 and we find Pelletier engaged in the process of writing his own material. While working on a piece for one of his websites,, he came into contact with author Jack Falla. The review pertained to Falla's Open Ice: Reflections and Confessions of a Hockey Lifer. After reading the review, Falla contacted Pelletier to express his thanks. Also, Pelletier built-up enough nerve to request an interview, which Falla consented to take part in. The encounter with the noted author and professor of journalism had a great impact on Pelletier. This becomes clear when Pelletier writes about the events following the interview. It is one of the most touching parts in Pucks On The 'Net.

Another marvelous reflection is called my 1972 Summit Series Confession. In 2002, Pelletier created the website,, which became a huge hit. It was the launching pad for his future success. His confession is both fascinating and provides an interesting perspective on the 1972 series.

I first became aware of Pelletier in 2005, when I picked-up a book he wrote. With Wayne Gretzky gracing the cover in a Team Canada jersey, I couldn't resist adding Legends of Team Canada to my library. A photo on the back cover featured members of the Canadian National Women's hockey team. The text above the picture was the final selling point: "From Paul Henderson to Vincent Lecavalier, from Wayne Gretzky to Hayley Wickenheiser, today's stars meet yesterday's heroes in these pages. Together they comprise the best that have ever represented our nation. These are the true legends of Team Canada."

Following his personal accounts in Pucks On The 'Net, Pelletier unleashes a wide variety of stories. Known for his player biographies at, Pelletier is at his best in crafting and presenting a total of twenty-nine hockey related tales over the remaining pages.Unique in nature, they cover a wide range of hockey history and are broken down into categories. For example, Crashing The Net covers goalies and Tough Guys the enforcers. Other sections include Pucks On The Net (a collection of various stories), International Ice, Last Line of Defense and Hockey Heroes.

Like any good narrative, the characters take a starring role. Pucks On The 'Net delivers big-time in this regard. Where else can you read about the exploits of Alfie Moore and Wayne Gretzky in the same publication? Pelletier should take a bow for bringing lesser known players to centre stage. It is a joy to read about Val Fonteyne, Camille Henry, Marcel Bonin, Don Saleski and Elizabeth Graham to mention a few.

Story after story generated a number of emotions and reactions. Reading Larry The Leech made me laugh. The Night Pat Quinn Knocked Out Bobby Orr put me in a nostalgic state. Who Is Better? Rocket Richard vs. Gordie Howe made me think. The Puck-Goes-Insky Buzinsky brought a smile to my face. Hockey's Most Important Players sent me scattering for pen and paper to create my own list. The mere mention of Mud March in The Best Names in Hockey History took me back to November 12, 1931 when he scored the very first goal in Maple Leaf Gardens on opening night.

Most of all, I was left wanting more.

With Pucks On The 'Net, Joe Pelletier has scored a hat trick. It is informative, entertaining and well written!

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