2018, Books, Hockey, Non-Fiction, Sports

The “Down Goes Brown” History of the NHL (2018) by Sean McIndoe

If you follow McIndoe on Twitter or you’ve read him at his professional stops since the original blog, you pretty much know what you’re getting here: quality hockey writing with jokes. However, if you’ve followed him since the blog you’ve likely heard some of this before. And if you’ve ready books about hockey (or read a lot online about hockey) you’ve likely heard some of this before.

I can’t quite decide who this book is for. Mostly, it seems it’s for fans but, fairly often, there’s stuff that feels like it was written for a general audience that doesn’t really know the game. There’s a push-pull that feels a little off. And I wonder how much a publisher or editor was involved in that. I feel like McIndoe’s columns are more for fans than this book sometimes is, which is a little weird.

Though there are a number of great, crazy hockey stories in here I’ve never encountered before, there are a also a lot of stories that many fans of the support have heard before. McIndoe tells them a little better, perhaps, but they’re still the same old stories. He also lapses into some sportswriter cliches to end the odd chapter which is weird and unexpected. It does feel like, in writing a book, he tried to fit his style into traditional hockey book style a bit too much.

If you read McIndoe online, you know he has certain obsessions like anyone. And he comes back to them here. (The chapter on fighting I felt like I had already read in a column.) The book is also clearly geared towards when he was alive, and what he liked as a kid. Yes, there’s time for older hockey but it’s clear which era McIndoe prefers and cares about most. I do wonder if a history of the NHL should have more in it about the times before the author was a fan.

But it’s funny. Certainly it’s much funnier than most hockey books you’ll come across. And there truly were some stories which were new to me, which I’m glad I read his version of, rather than a more pompous writer’s.

6/10

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