With the playoffs looming, I could not help but notice three books in my “to read” stack calling out for attention. Over the past few months, I ended up with the following books on the Chicago Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup season:
- The Year of the Blackhawks: Celebrating Chicago’s 2009-10 Stanley Cup Championship Season by Andrew Podnieks (The Official NHL Stanley Cup Publication)
- Hawkeytown: Chicago Blackhawks’ Run for the 2010 Stanley Cup (The Chicago Tribune’s 128-page Full-Color Keepsake)
- One Goal Achieved: The Inside Story of the 2010 Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks (from Blackhawks Publishing)
So, let’s take a look at three versions of the same story – the NHL’s, a local newspaper’s, and the team’s. You can probably guess which version comes out on top, but it was interesting to view the topic through three different lenses.
The Year of the Blackhawks: Celebrating Chicago’s 2009-10 Stanley Cup Championship Season. By Andrew Podnieks. (2010, Toronto: Fenn Publishing Company, Ltd. Softcover. Pp. 160. $19.95 US, $21.95 CAN. ISBN 978-1-55168-335-5)
Podnieks started out the narrative of the NHL’s official publication with a brief introduction recapping the Blackhawks’ season and a “Birth of the Blackhawks” page describing the founding of the team and its long history. A number of pages were dedicated to statistical information, from the regular season wins and losses to individual statistics and how the team was built. He continued with a narrative description of each of the playoff games, complemented by photographs – many of which were not anything new. Most people who followed the Stanley Cup playoffs probably saw the majority of the photos used in this book.
After the section on the 2010 final games, the narrative looked towards the past and the 1961 championship. Podnieks followed this with the team’s regular season records from 1926-2010, records from all playoff appearances, Hall of Fame inductees, retired numbers, trophy winners, and all-time drafted players by year. He wrapped up the book with two pages for each player on the roster.
Overall, The Year of the Blackhawks was an adequate recap of the 2009-10 season, but disappointing for the long-time fan. The reader was left with the feeling that all of the information could easily be found through other (free) sources.
Hawkeytown: Chicago Blackhawks’ Run for the 2010 Stanley Cup. Edited by Mike Kellums. (2010, Chicago: Triumph Books. Softcover. Pp. 128. $14.95 US. ISBN 978-1-60078-528-3)
Luckily for readers, Hawkeytown was written by journalists from Chicago and that gave the narrative not only an excitement, but the joy that comes from seeing “your team” FINALLY win it all. The Tribune writers brought the hometown feel to Hawkeytown, especially in comparison with Podnieks’s The Year of the Blackhawks. Aside from a few pages recapping the regular season and the team’s contribution to Olympic teams, most of the first half of the book’s narrative was dedicated to profiles of Joel Quenneville, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Antti Niemi, Dustin Byfuglien, Duncan Keith, and Marian Hossa. In addition, the photos used in Hawkeytown contributed to the exciting feeling of the story.
One interesting perspective provided in Hawkeytown was the six pages featuring photographs of fans. From guys in jerseys and headdresses to replicas of the Stanley Cup and custom painted cars, this section made a nice tribute to the folks who flock to the United Center and support the Hawks game in and game out.
The regular season statistics appeared in a combination of text and graphic format, which made what can be a boring list into something even the casual fan could navigate. It may not have been as in-depth historically as Podnieks’s extensive lists, but it adequately celebrated the major accomplishments of this single season.
The remainder of the book recapped the playoffs, with Brian Hamilton writing on the three conference series and David Haugh taking over for the Stanley Cup Finals. Photographs complement the text and it was not difficult to relive one’s own memories of the 2010 playoffs.
(Author’s Note: There was no preference between the different local media commemoratives published last year. Hawkeytown was a Christmas gift.)
One Goal Achieved: The Inside Story of the 2010 Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks. Edited by Adam Kempenaar. (2010, Chicago: Triumph Books. Hardcover. Pp. 224. $39.95 US. ISBN 978-1-60078-559-7)
What is left to say? One Goal Achieved, of course, trumps the other two books. From the textured dust jacket (which you should probably leave on since the actual cover looks more like your high school yearbook than a professional team’s commemorative), to the little “incidentals,” this book surpassed both other books reviewed here in quality. It was obvious in One Goal Achieved that the editors and authors had better access to information and images than any other book – it was produced by Blackhawks Publishing after all.
The incidentals mentioned above include:
- A “replica” of the Scouting Report on Jonathan Toews;
- “Trading Cards” of Toews, Keith, Kane, Hossa, Brent Seabrook, and Patrick Sharp;
- A replica Stanley Cup Finals ticket;
- A reprint of the Chicago Sun-Times Late Sports Final with the “It’s Ours!” headline;
- An insert detailing the “hardware” won by the team and players; and
- A Blackhawks TV DVD titled “One Goal Achieved.”
The photos range from those seen often during and after the playoffs to not as widely circulated images of the locker room celebration. This book relied more on images than text to tell the story of the playoffs, but Bob Verdi’s essays made a major contribution to the weightiness of the book. The four team photos of the championship squads showed how the Blackhawks organization values the team’s history. Finally, “Following the Cup” by Annie E. Stein wrapped up the narrative by chronicling the Stanley Cup’s summer travels, ending with the banner raising ceremony at the United Center.
If there is still anyone undecided on which commemorative book to have on your bookshelf, there really is no contest. It may cost a bit more, but it does contain the better photos, better text, etc., and is a higher quality book. Or, you can just go with my two-year-old niece’s evaluation of One Goal Achieved – when I showed her the book, she simply pointed and said, “Hockey!”