Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Hockey Book Review: Don't Call Me Goon

The fine folks at ECW Press were kind enough to send us a few copies of Don't Call Me Goon: Hockey's Greatest Enforcers, Gunslingers, and Bad Boys for our first ever book review on Dirty Dangle. Co-authored by Greg Oliver and Richard Kamchen, the book doesn't disappoint in celebrating the role of the hockey enforcer. Through numerous interviews and extensive research, Don't Call Me Goon delivers in sharing the controversial subject of fighting in hockey.

Don't Call Me Goon reads like a history lesson as the chapters guide you through the Pioneers of Mayhem and the Original Six to the Expansion Era and today's Modern Day Warriors. While many hockey fans are familiar with the names of Bob Probert, Georges Laraque and Tie Domi, the book also showcases the men before them such as Sprague Cleghorn and Billy Coutu. From what we read about the 1920s and 1930s, it's safe to say that many of the anti-fighting crowd would have had heart attacks watching these guys play.
Each chapter profiles various fighters and features some great quotes from other tough guys. When you think about it, there's really nobody better to talk about how tough these players were than the guys who were taking their punches. Opposing fighters openly admitting to being intimidated by other enforcers or discussing their nervousness before having to go to battle with a guy like John Kordic shows the level of respect that enforcers have for each other. The pressure to drop their gloves or lose their job to the next guy in line was a constant threat and it's not surprising to learn that most of the players profiled just wanted a chance to play and score some goals like John Ferguson.

Our favourite chapter was about the 1967 Expansion and the St. Louis Blues stockpiling guys that could drop the gloves. This ultimately triggered the development of the Broad Street Bullies in Philadelphia and Don Cherry's Lunch Pail Gang in Boston. Full of bench clearing brawls and seemingly endless nicknames for fighters such as Barc "The Spark" Plager, you can't help but think of the movie Slapshot when reading about the Flyers, Blues, and Bruins slugging it out on the ice throughout the 1970s.

Obviously in today's hockey climate the debate on fighting can't be ignored and Don't Call Me Goon does an excellent job of wrapping up with discussing the rise of the rat (think Patrick Kaleta) and concussions in hockey. While the focus has been on getting rid of goons in today's game, reasoning is provided for the rise of dirty hits and head injuries such as recent rule changes that have made the game faster and more entertaining for the casual fan. There's some valid points from well-respected players and who better to know the tide for change than those that have played the game.

Overall, this is a fantastic read with some great insight into hockey's most controversial role and would look good under any Christmas tree this holiday season. Purchase it here and be sure to check back in as we'll be giving away a few copies as prizes in our 4th annual World Junior Hockey Pool!


  1. Nice review boys. Will add that to my Winter reading list.

  2. Already bought this for my Dad for Christmas and gave it a read before I wrapped it. He always told me about some of the guys in the 70s so I think he'll like that chapter haha

  3. Thanks for the positive review. It was great fun to work on.

  4. My brother bought me this for my birthday last month and you boys summed it up great!

  5. My grandfather still tells me stories about John Ferguson. I'm glad we got him and the Leafs got his son!

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