As engaging as the great game itself, the stories behind the National Hockey League are entertaining, fascinating and, at times, unbelievable. Faux facts emerge from urban legends, conspiracy theories and coincidences, leaving sports fans to debate truth and fiction in the world of hockey trivia. Few are better qualified to both debunk falsehoods and nail down amazing facts than TSN stats archaeologist Kevin Gibson, whose book Of Myths and Sticks blows the whistle on all hockey matters from the mainstream to the obscure.
What was the date of the first NHL game? Who scored the first goal and which team won? Did Gordie Howe ever actually have a Gordie Howe hat trick? Gibson offers definitive answers to these fundamental questions, but also contributes fascinating background nobody else thought to ask about, such as game-time weather, contract disputes and the flu epidemic that claimed the lives of two players and cancelled the 1919 Stanley Cup Final. Gibson scores laughs with true facts from between the posts, noting that legendary Canadiens goalie Georges Vezina sired 24 children (he was known for saves on the ice and scoring off”), and that the Quebec Bulldogs’ shameful record of 420 may have been due, in part, to the worst nickname ever for a goaltender (Holes”). The myth of the Original Six is down-sized to the Original One, as Gibson points out that the Montreal Canadiens is the only team to have been around at the start of the NHL and to have retained their original team name.
Other highlights include hall-of-famers, hall-of-shamers and an extensive On This Date” chapter that highlights 366 trivia-worthy moments from 95 years of hockey history. Combining extensive research, humor and keen curiosity, Of Myths and Sticks is hockey’s version of MythBusterswhat’s true, what’s not, and how can we make finding out almost as entertaining as watching the game.
Kevin Gibson is TSN’s one-man Research, Stats and Information Department. A regular on Mike Richards’ In the Morning show on TSN Radio 1050 and a popular presence on Twitter, he lives in Toronto.