the power is in his wrists

zander hZander Hollander died in Manhattan on April 11 at the age of 91. If you grew up in the pre-Google age with any appetite for hockey trivia, you’ll recall the name from the covers of the indispensable annual handbooks he filled with a nerd’s cornucopia of quizzes and line-ups, schedules, records, scouting reports, vital statistics. Douglas Martin recalled his legacy in The New York Times earlier this week, here. From Hollander’s 1972 Complete Handbook of Pro Hockey, some selected biographical intel from the season’s crop of NHL talent:

Nicknamed Smiley Bates because of his addiction to country music. (Bruce Gamble)

A rugged type, he once dropped down to block a shot with his mouth and it cost him 40 stitches. (Ed Van Impe)

Call this little Frenchman the Lone Star North Star. (Jude Drouin)

Real first name is Hubert. (Pit Martin)

Allergic to Toronto air, he lives outside of the city and comes into town only for games and practices. (Norm Ullman)

Possesses a fiery temper and often explodes in anger. (Henri Richard)

After each game, he jots down a check list of his own mistakes. (George Armstrong)

Nicknamed Gump after Andy Gump, his childhood comic strip favorite. (Lorne Worsley)

Married daughter of Red Wings’ team dentist. (Bert Marshall)

Known as something of a flake among fellow players. (Eddie Shack)

Not appreciated as much by the fans as he is by his teammates and other hockey players. (Bob Nevin)

Joined Canadian Army, lying about his age, and attained rank of sergeant. (Emile Francis)

Wife, June, is an expert figure skater. (Dean Prentice)

Takes 55 units of insulin every morning and drinks sweetened soda and orange juice to keep up his strength during games. (Bobby Clarke)

Native of Finland pronounces name “You-ha Vee-ding.” (Juha Widing)

The power is in his wrists. (Jacques Lemaire)

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FIRST. CBC launched Canada Reads 2012 last week with a raft of five non-fictional books we’re all supposed to read so we can be ready in February to decide, as a country, which is the best of them. With actor Alan Thicke carrying the torch for Ken Dryden’s The Game (1983), it’s time to cue the disembodied voices to remind us that it’s the Best Hockey Book Ever. Not to be quibbling, but is it, really? It’s so sharply thoughful and well-written that it may well be — though is it possible, too, that this is a case of a book reviewerly blurb being having been repeated so often, year after year, that it’s cured into something that looks like a fact? It will be good to hear the discussion. And maybe Thicke and the Canada Readers can get at, too, if they have some time on the radio, what it is about the phrase hockey book that can seem so reductive and dismissive, describing a distinctly lesser literary organism? Or is that just me? Continue reading