Thursday 12 January 2023

Book Review: "The NHL In The UK" by Stuart Latham

You can never have too many ice hockey books!  

Somebody once said that – and it may well have been me, to be honest – and I lead by example here as, despite my own dedicated ice hockey bookshelf having long ago passed the point of the last straw that propelled the camel through the eye of the needle, I can always find room for another of Stuart Latham’s publications.  

His latest book is called “The NHL in the UK” and as the title suggests, it focuses on players who played “across the pond” in the North American NHL (National Hockey League) before coming to the UK to play British ice hockey.

Over the years, that number has increased from an occasional one or two back in the days when there were only the “Original 6” NHL teams to play for, through various league expansions and lock-outs and makes up quite an impressive list. 

This book starts off with details of tours by NHL teams that have played games against UK opposition and then moves on to fascinating facts about all sorts of players from the 1930s onwards who played their trade over here, with some staying longer than others.

There are interviews with many stars of the British game – some recent and some from further back - and names that leap out at me include Tony Hand Fred Perlini, Garry Under, Sean McMorrow, and Jared Staal, and there are in-depth features about players such as Ron Plumb, Mike Ware, Mike Blaisdell, Doug Smail, Jere Gillis, Mark Pavelich and Todd Bidner.

There is also a fascinating section about the London Lions exhibition team from 1973/74  that was set up by the Detroit Red Wings to try and promote the idea of a European league and which, over its 6 months of existence, featured a number of former, fringe or future NHL players.

So, in summary, if you are instead in ice hockey - be it the British game, the professional game in North America, and maybe a bit of both – you are sure to find something to interest you in “The NHL in The UK”.

Stuart has compiled a whole host of individual club histories as well, featuring many British ice hockey clubs and has also penned books about rugby, cricket, football and lots more besides.  If you drop him a line to , I’m sure he’ll happily send you his full mail order list.