Foreword By canadian hockey legend paul henderson
The world of hockey in 1972 was one that every fan understood. There was the love of the game, there was skill and sacrifice, there was triumph and disappointment, there was a spirit of competition. Since then, a lot has changed in the sport. Some of those changes have been positive. There have been advances in methods of fitness training, skill development, and injury treatment. The sport has grown in different places, and new countries have emerged as rivals on the stage of international hockey, in forums like the Olympic Games. At the same time, a number of challenges have also emerged, both on and off the ice, that affect everything from how the game is played, to the values transmitted by our sport, to the importance of those values to society, to hockey’s prosperity in the days to come.
Our game was in rough shape not long ago. Coming off a season in which fans, commentators, and even players voiced growing discontent with the style of play, while TV audiences continued to decline (I too watched less and less of the professional game, bored by what it had become), the situation only got worse. A labour dispute between players and owners cost us all the entire 2004-5 NHL season. With the tug-of-war between the NHL and NHL Players’ Association happening daily, each side telling self-serving stories to the media, the game and its fans were caught in the middle. Now that the lockout is over, the games are on, and all involved are resigned to finally making things better, Mark Moore reminds us that it is time for the game itself to be given first priority.
From the moment I started reading Saving the Game, it was evident that this book is different from most hockey books out there. Like any good book, it is quite simply an engaging read. But it also tackles many of the issues of our sport comprehensively and with an uncommon depth of insight. It takes the challenges and changes in our game and addresses them with courage and a constructive approach. Do I always agree with him; certainly not, but the perspective of this former player is clearly something rare and special that sets this book apart. Even among player perspectives, the book is unique – it is written not out of the self-interest so often heard today from people in the hockey industry, but from the perspective of the game itself, and for the good of everyone touched by it.
It is a book filled with many great ideas that are clearly the product of long thought and deep consideration; Mark has brought up issues I had never even considered throughout a life in the game. He is concerned with giving the hockey fan a voice in the game, something that has been lacking in the past, yet is essential to protecting the sport and improving its future. He also focuses on the necessity of players, leagues, and fans working collectively to guide the sport into the future, and that’s where this book’s greatest significance will be. Saving the Game unmistakably calls for attention and discussion by people around and within the game. It should spawn debate in arenas, on TV, and in boardrooms – and through debate we can hope to elevate the game.
As an avid reader, I am selective about the books I choose. As someone who has spent a life in hockey and in the public eye, I am even more selective about what I endorse. But this is a project I am glad to stand for: I applaud Mark for a great book, and I highly recommend it to the reader. I have really enjoyed reading Saving the Game and I hope you do too.