The rink rat and the rocket

My 26 Stanley Cups: Memories of a Hockey Life

By William Brown

A review of My 26 Stanley Cups: Memories Of A Hockey Life by Dick Irvin

Published on October 1, 2001

My 26 Stanley Cups: Memories Of A Hockey Life
Dick Irvin

McClelland & Stewart

Could the Stanley Cup be cool? Sports Illustrated calls it “the most enduring symbol of triumph in sports.”

Part of the allure seems to be the rugged Cup’s willingness to go anywhere and do anything while other cups lie around in their trophy cases. Every summer, the Stanley Cup is dragged across hockey’s half-acre, visiting the hometowns of almost every player on the winning team. Over the years, it has apparently been drop-kicked into the Rideau Canal, left on a street corner in Montreal, and vandalized by the children of a winning coach. When superstar Mario Lemieux won the Cup for the first time, he brought the trophy into bed with him and his wife.

It’s been said that there’s a stunt Cup that handles most of the dangerous missions. But there’s still something compelling about the much-modified bowl, donated by a Governor General in 1892. Most Canadians consider themselves lucky to have seen just one Cup-winning game in person. Dick Irvin has seen 26.

In his latest book, My 26 Stanley Cups, Irvin uses the theme as a backdrop for opinions and anecdotes about his life and his Hall of Fame broadcasting career. He started out in 1951, collecting statistics for his father, Dick Irvin Sr., who was coach of the Montreal Canadiens. He began broadcasting hockey on radio and television in the 1960s and only recently retired from the airwaves. In short, Irvin is one of hockey’s foremost gentleman rink rats.

Irvin’s recent books have looked at the game through the eyes of coaches, goaltenders, and referees. His sixth work is more autobiographical. It’s as if he finally got tired of interviewing everyone else and turned the microphone on himself, with good results.

The book has a relaxed, candid tone. For someone who claims to dislike confrontation, Irvin manages to get a few things off his chest. Things weren’t always rosy at Hockey Night in Canada. And there’s an interesting look at his legendary broadcast partner Danny Gallivan, whom Irvin clearly admired but never got close to, despite a 17-year association.

Irvin recycles a few stories and quotes from his previous books, but there’s enough fresh material here to satisfy hockey fans.

William Brown is author of the Doug Harvey biography "Doug".



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