Saturday, December 30, 2006


Rivalry Revisited

by Greg

Like I said before, I received Adrian Dater's "Blood Feud" for Christmas. It's the first hockey book I've been motivated to read in ages, and thankfully, it's a fun little read. There was a little dread leading up to it -- on one hand, love the subject matter, on the other, it'd be easy for it to turn out crap. It's a good thing the relatively restrained Dater wrote it. If Woody Paige or Mark Kiszla or Mitch Albom chronicled the Avs-Wings rivalry, I probably would have given up on the written word.

The descriptions of the on-the-ice incidents aren't the primary appeal, for me -- those I enjoyed, I generally remember, and those I've forgotten... well, I forgot 'em for a reason. (I really, really didn't need the multiple photos of Roy-vs-Detroit goalie of the moment) It's the reactions of those involved, and the behind-the-scenes info, that make it pretty enjoyable. The transcript of Marc Crawford's famous bench shrieking frenzy is freakin' hilarious (and makes Crow seem a bit ... crazy). Dater's details on much of the Avalanche dressing room drama is also a revelation -- I followed the Avalanche more than a healthy human being should during this time period, and much of this was new to me.

Detroit fans may see some tilt toward the Colorado side -- there's no similar Red Wings drama, and the 1997-98 season is dismissed in a couple pages -- but for the most part Dater plays it very straight, laughing at both sides' homerism (also hampering the Wings' side -- it looks like only one Detroit media figure spoke to the author). There's a few good interviews in here, with both sides -- Claude Lemieux, Scotty Bowman, Darren McCarty, Brendan Shanahan are all pretty articulate.

It's a bit of a surprise that some of the major players are sort of swept under the rug. Adam Foote, Slava Kozlov, Kirk Douchebag Maltby, Rene Corbet -- all are only bit players here. Joe Sakic and Steve Yzerman are dealt with a bit separately from the rest, with a chapter profiling both that doesn't really tie in to the book too much.

That's probably my biggest complaint -- "Blood Feud" really woulda benefitted from a heavy-handed editor. It bounces around like no one's business, there's a little sloppy stuff creeping in (one paragraph starts by discussing the furor surrounding Eric Lacroix in the Avalanche locker room and ends with the Theo Fleury trade, in the process sort of implying that poor Corbet was complaining about Lacroix -- which I don't think was the intent), and a lot of extraneous detail (Patrick Roy really likes Supertramp).

Overall, though, Dater handles it pretty well. And if you want a glimpse of what could have been, the more flamboyant journalists are amply quoted (to everyone's detriment). The time since the real heated matches probably helps, too. Most involved seem to have a sense of perspective by now.

Except me. I still hate the damn Wings!

(update: from the other side, Christy at Behind the Jersey has a review up here.)

Patrick Roy really likes Supertramp

Gosh, how low can one man sink?
Patrick Roy really likes Supertramp

Sadly, this is probably his most redeeming feature.

C'mon, stop holding out! What other good gossip is in there>?
Roy ... also likes Celine Dion.

I feel a bit weird about all of this, I admit. Was I cheering for the wrong side all along??
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