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The Game

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  5,837 ratings  ·  340 reviews
Widely acknowledged as the best hockey book ever written and lauded by "Sports Illustrated" as one of the Top 10 Sports Books of All Time, "The Game" is a reflective and thought-provoking look at a life in hockey. Intelligent and insightful, former Montreal Canadiens goalie and former President of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Ken Dryden captures the essence of the sport and wh ...more
Paperback, 308 pages
Published February 4th 2005 by John Wiley & Sons (first published October 1st 1983)
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Average rating 4.15  · 
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 ·  5,837 ratings  ·  340 reviews

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Paul Haspel
Sep 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: hockey
“The game,” in Canada, is ice hockey. I was reminded of that ineluctable fact of Canadian life the last time I was in Quebec City, when I walked through the historic downtown section of the walled Québécois capital and observed that the shopping district was home to two sports-memorabilia stores – one for hockey, and one for every other sport.

In Canada, you see, other games are fine and important games, but hockey is the game. And the reader who wants to get a strong sense of the strategic and
This book by former Montréal Canadiens Goalie Ken Dryden is nothing short of brilliant. It is certainly the best sports related biography I have ever read to this point in my life. As much as I enjoy Baseball biographies of former players of years gone by; this book by far outdoes them all. As a young lad growing up in Ontario Canada and prior to moving as a kid to Southern California – Ken Dryden was for me at the time a person I liked to despise – this of course due to my allegiance to the Tor ...more
Jul 29, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 1970-present, sports
I don't get it. I really don't.

Dryden is not THAT good of a writer, and while there are some magical passages here, and some great descriptions of Montreal and Canada at the time, on the whole the thing is a bit of a slog.

Maybe it's cause I don't like the Habs. On to Dave Bidini's hockey books, then.
Scott Holstad
Dec 25, 2015 rated it did not like it
Boy, I don’t get it. I really don’t. I’m sure I’ll take some criticism for saying this, but I just don’t understand why Ken Dryden’s The Game is considered by most to be the best hockey book ever written and by Sports Illustrated to be one of the greatest sports books ever written. Hell, I hardly read anything about sports in it! Geez, it’s about Dryden’s family, law school, desire and efforts to pass his bar exams, his disillusionment and boredom with hockey and intense desire to retire after a ...more
Published in '83, this book assumes that I will have been part of the 70s, part of the 2 channel television world, part of the hockey world. That is a fine assumption at the time. However, as I picked this up as a book that nearly won Canada Reads, that's not good enough. That assumption lay thickly between me and the words of the book. So many passages are just words - names, descriptions, references I don't get.

I wanted to like this book. I wanted to learn to like hockey better. I liked Ken D
Sean Fowle
Jun 14, 2021 rated it really liked it
Dryden's writing is not without its cynicism, but for the most part what he writes comes across as genuine and that cynicism is just a part of how Dryden viewed the game (and much of what surrounded it).

When Dryden is writing about his teammates (and other players) it is raw, often harsh, and wonderful. Their character and charisma leap off the page and you get a great sense of what this team was in the 70s and what the game meant to them. However, it isn't quite the same with Dryden regarding h
Jul 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are hockey books.. and then there is Ken Dryden’s The Game.

The Game is former NHL goaltender Ken Dryden’s memoir of his final season playing for the Montreal Canadiens in their quest for a fourth straight Stanley Cup.

I’ve read my fair share of hockey books over my long reading career. While many have been just OK, few have been exceptional - Ken Dryden’s The Game is one of those exceptional reads. Most of the hockey books I’ve read are either more of a play-by-play recounting of the subjec
Luke Koran
Jul 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, hockey
In one of the greatest sports memoirs across any sport, culture, or generation, legendary goaltender Ken Dryden of the 1970s-era Montreal Canadians takes the reader on a fantastic journey through the life and thinking of a hockey player - especially one as educated and well-versed as Dryden is - in the hit 1983 book “The Game.”

As much as “Ball Four” transformed the world of baseball in fascinating tell-all fashion following its publishing in 1970, so does “The Game” shed light on the realm of pr
Dec 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-read
"A time capsule buried at Maple Leaf Gardens in 1931 and revealed on Thursday (January 26, 2012) contains an NHL rule book, a municipal code, financial information on the team and a tiny carved ivory elephant of mysterious origin."(1)

Hockey in all its forms, in all its lore, never fails to captivate many Canadians. But do we listen carefully to those voices from the distant (1931 NHL rule book ...) and more recent past?

The Game by Ken Dryden, first published in 1983, offers enduring contribution
Alan Braswell
Jan 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In the times when former sports athletes write or have a ghost writer write their memories of faded glory on the epic field of sport with the singular possessive 'i' being used some many times that one wonders if the autobiography of said sports athlete is pumped up with hot air to match their inflated egos.

Along comes a shocker of a sports autobiography written in a narrative style by not only a athlete but a hockey goalie. Such a drastic change from the bombastic attitude of the other athlete
Mar 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sport
It’s hard to explain exactly why I believe this to be the greatest book on sport ever written. Maybe it’s due to how it effortlessly stretches beyond the regular bounds of its genre without losing sight of its central focus. Maybe it’s how Dryden’s insights, and writing, stand up through the decades. Maybe it’s something else entirely. A truly unique book by an unique human being.
Jun 18, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, sports, memoir
This book was released almost forty years ago. I remember the interviews that Ken Dryden did on TV when it came out. I suppose it’s a bit of an omission that I haven’t read it till now, though I do date myself with the statement. Oh well, time moves relentlessly on.

What can you say about Ken Dryden? He may be the most articulate, well-spoken, and capable writer to ever play in the NHL. This is an extremely thoughtful meditation on the game of hockey and the state of the National Hockey League, b
Jack Connolly
Nov 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
For me, books where sports legends talk about their legacy in said sport (particularly in hockey and in some occasions baseball) is very much on the level of comfort food reading. I’m pretty well invested when it comes to discussing the game of hockey, and The Game handles it very well. I’m not sure I’d call it the greatest hockey book of all time, as the cover suggested (Gretzky/Mclellan’s 99: Stories of the game still holds a very special place in my heart). It’s a little shaggy at times, some ...more
Mary Jane Hele
Dec 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
For me a tough read as I am not really a sports fan. But I have met Ken Dryden a few times and we have a mutual friend who died last year of cancer and I wanted to read this book for Jim. I found certain chapters easier to read than others. Saturday was great. Ken writes about his peers and always finds ways to compliment them while still giving the straight story, or so it seems. He is an eloquent writer and describes events so clearly, often with strong emotions. My friend was so proud that he ...more
Dec 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Bec
Shelves: non-fiction
States on the cover, "The Best Hockey Book Ever Written", and lives up to that - easily one of the better books about all sports. The author was a goalie and law student, and his ideas come across quite clearly. The original subtitle was "a thoughtful and provocative look at a life in hockey", and it is that. Recommended, and for a hockey fan highly recommended.

I picked this up last year in a used book shop in B.C. Having read a fair amount of sports books, mostly baseball related, I was eager t
Jul 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
The Game was a good read about all things in life and not just about hockey. It is interesting that it talked about everything the game is from players and teams to strategy and even the economics of it. What struck me the most is the author's reflections about life choices and is best expressed in a Henri Richard quote near the end of the book, "It was a dream, and everything I dreamed came true. Now my dream is finished. That's a new life for me. Because what I do now, what I keep on doing is ...more
Travis Timmons
Sep 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Sensational! I still can't believe this book exists and that an athlete/writer/thinker/lawyer/man like Dryden exists. An extraordinary treatment of sport from the inside. If there's something to be said about every single element within a sport, this book has it. Plus, Dryden is an exquisite observer with a poet's attention to detail, attunement, and environment.

This masterpiece will stay with me for a long time.
Allison ༻hikes the bookwoods༺
My son and husband are big Habs fans, so this book helped me develop a better understanding of some of the big names they like to throw around. I've also developed enormous respect for Mr. Dryden. He's intelligent and educated, articulate, and of course, an incredible athlete. ...more
Jan 07, 2021 rated it really liked it
A fun read about the life of a pro hockey star in the 1970s, including commentary on the roots of the sport and its evolution to the present day. A very well-written sports book.
James Mcrae
Nov 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Ken Dryden is a great writer and amazing athlete. This book really gives you a glimpse into all aspects of Hockey. A must read for any sports fan and if you’re a hockey fan you’ll really understand the game better afterwards. The whole book really holds up well to the test of time as well.
David Partikian
Apr 07, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Few athletes had a career as celebrated, successful and as self-truncated—at least for sports—as Ken Dryden. As a college goalie, he led the Cornell Big Red to an NCAA championship. Acquired by the Montreal Canadiens in a draft swap, he made his NHL debut late in the 1970-1971 regular season, playing only six games and then leading the Habs to a Stanley Cup title, defeating the heavily favored Chicago Black Hawks. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy as most valuable player of the playoffs, but wasn’t
Jul 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Liked this book more than I expected I would. It had 2.5 strikes against it in advance:

1. It's about hockey, and I am a huge sports fan in general but not particularly into hockey.
2. The author went to Cornell. Nothing against Cornell in particular, but I'm always suspicious when sports writing by Ivy League graduates is praised to high heaven -- raises the risk of George Will/Phil Jackson--style "the game is actually a metaphor for life/politics/community......." essays that get old fast.
2.5 No
Jan 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
For fans of hockey (ice variety), this book is a great read. For fans of the Montreal Canadiens from back in their golden years of the 1970s, this book is a must. I don't follow the game anymore but I did back then and Montreal was "my" team. Ken Dryden was the star goalie for the team that won the league championship for most of the years in the 1970s. They were almost unbeatable. They won the Stanley Cup 6 between 1971 and 1979 and it was a great time to be a hockey fan.

Ken Dryden has written
May 13, 2009 rated it liked it
Ken Dryden's The Game has been hailed as the best hockey book ever written and included in Sports Illustrated's list of the top 100 best sports books of all time. While an interesting and insightful look at NHL hockey, its age may now hamper those accolades.[return][return]For those unfamiliar with him, Dryden played goalie for the Montreal Canadiens, a true hockey dynasty. During Dryden's eight seasons with the Canadiens in the 1970s, the team won the Stanley Cup six times. Dryden does not ...more
Mar 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
Canadiens de Montreal, said to be the best NHL franchise, with 24 Stanely Cup Championships, they
lead the legue. But why, why have they been so good, was it due to a one man band, or a band of brothers? Both.The goaltender is the hardest and may even be argued as the most important roll in hockey, and when crafting a winning team it's important to have a good, no, great goaltender. And that's precisely what the Montreal Canadiens had.
Ken Dryden, an Ontario native, may very well be the best goa
Matt Glaviano
Jan 29, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2008
The Game is considered by many to be the greatest book about hockey ever written, and I can see why. Dryden’s thought is insightful, reflective, and intelligent; his prose clear, effectively detailed, and well structured. I found myself making a lot of thoughtful, audible noise while reading this book. It worked very well for, and taught me a lot about a game I already love and feel close to, though I have never played it (and, as such, sadly, will always feel it is outside me). I did find that ...more
John Yarbrough
Nov 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bio
A salesman that I met in Point Clear Alabama told me about his love for the Montreal Canadians and he asked if I had ever read "The Game" by Ken Dryden. I remembered Dryden from the 70's and playing goalie for the Canadians' championship teams. He said that the book is the best hockey book that he has ever read. I would argue that its the best sports book that I've ever read besides tomes on fly fishing that seem to transcend sport and are really stories about life but someone could argue about ...more
Mar 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Sports fans not familiar with hockey, anyone curious about the inner game of sport.
Everything you ever wanted to know about hockey, from the inside of the goalie mask, arguably the best spot on the ice. His rich descriptions of a period of action, the first intermission and the teammates and coaches who have made his time in the sport so fulfilling are amazing, and I will not dispute that this is the best book ever written about hockey.

Sometimes it comes off as stream-of-consciousness rambling, but Ken Dryden is well-spoken/written enough that it's worth reading, and everythin
Jul 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I've read this book three times over the years, and although it is often said by many, it truly is one of the best if not THE best hockey book ever written. What makes this book special is the absence of a ghost writer. Dryden wrote this himself. I enjoyed the layout of the book, with a personal diary of the 1978-79 season interrupted by Dryden's thoughts on certain players or situations. Having followed this team religiously as a teen, it was very interesting to get Dryden's behind the scenes p ...more
John Devlin
Jun 17, 2011 rated it it was ok
Touted as the greatest hockey book ever written I jumped eagerly into its pages. Dryden is smart, and delivers many quiet insights on players, positions, and the nature of not just hockey, but what it means to play any sport. With that going for it, I was bored for most of the novel. Dryden's cerebral nature is manifest throughout and his contemplative style stifles much of the excitement one would get from reading a sport's novel. By the end, I was left wondering did Dryden's novel receive such ...more
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Kenneth Wayne "Ken" Dryden is a Canadian politician, lawyer, businessman, author, and former NHL goaltender. He is an officer of the Order of Canada and a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. Dryden was a Liberal Member of Parliament from 2004, also serving as a cabinet minister from 2004 to 2006, until losing his seat in the 2011 Canadian federal elections to Conservative Mark Adler. ...more

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“I feel nothing, I hear nothing, my eyes watch the puck, my body moves—like a goalie moves, like I move; I don’t tell it to move or how to move or where, I don’t know it’s moving, I don’t feel it move—yet it moves. And when my eyes watch the puck, I see things I don’t know I’m seeing. I see Larson and Nedomansky as they come on the ice, I see them away from the puck unthreatening and uninvolved. I see something in the way a shooter holds his stick, in the way his body angles and turns, in the way he’s being checked, in what he’s done before that tells me what he’ll do—and my body moves. I let it move. I trust it and the unconscious mind that moves it.” 3 likes
“Ya writin’ a book? Hey great. Need some help? Want some of my quips? Hey, we could do it together. We’d quip ’em to death. Give ’em quiplash hee hee hee.” 1 likes
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