It’s been a frenetic fall for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, right from the moment, on September 4, when his publisher finally announced some specifics on the book with which Harper will make his long-awaited (a.k.a. much-anticipated) debut as a hockey historian. The title, Simon & Schuster told us, is A Great Game, and if that doesn’t grab you, hold on, there’s more, too, a subtitle: The Forgotten Leafs & The Rise of Professional Hockey. There was a cover to show, too, along with an online video to promote, over at www.agreatgamebook.com.
As for the author himself — Stephen J. Harper is how he appears on the cover — he had this to say: nothing. If he had a game to talk, it wasn’t this one, yet. Even as news of his book was breaking that day, matters of state were carrying him overseas, to St. Petersburg in Russia, where the G20 was convening to work through a decidedly non-hockey agenda.
Which is how the fall continued, too. No matter how much the author and/or his publisher would have wised to have talked hockey ahead of the book’s release, the prime ministering didn’t allow for it. With all the G20-meeting, Malaysia-visiting, Supreme Court judge-appointing, Brazilian-spying-allegation-answering, Throne Speech-writing, European-Union-dropping-by, New York-blitzing, United Nations-snubbing, Throne Speech-delivering, by-election-calling, CETA-inking, Senate Scandal-trying-to-quash, Nigel Wright-distancing, let-me-be-quite-clearing, Tom Mulcair-in-Question-Period-standing-up-to that filled his days, there’s been not much room in Prime Minister Harper’s calendar for Stephen J.
He did get a word in — on a stop in Bali, Indonesia — in early October, it should be said, at the end of a news conference, when he reminded a few travelling reporters that the debate about violence in the game is “is as old as hockey itself.”
Matthew Fisher, from PostMedia, was one who reported it. “There has never been an era in hockey, from the very beginning, where violence was not an issue of controversy,” Stephen J. opined. The early days he focuses on in his book, he went on, were, if anything, worse:
This is an era when players were hitting each other over the head with sticks and they did not wear helmets or any kind of modern, sturdy equipment. (They) were pretty lightly equipped and the violence is quite shocking. That is not a justification. I do worry about this. I think that the toughness of the game is part of the game. But I have always been an admirer of the skill.
Early word from this weekend’s Conservative Party convention in Calgary indicate that Stephen J. will let Prime Minister Harper take the fore. You never know, though: once the latter has given his keynote address tonight, answering all the questions the base might have about what’s been happening in the Senate, who knew what and when, and re-assuring all the rest of us about the ongoing merits of a strong, stable, national Conservative majority, maybe there will be some time to talk hockey, as there usually is, come the weekend in Canada.
A Great Game goes on sale on Tuesday.