The Gift of the Game

Publisher: Anchor Canada
Full of the gentle humour and storytelling that he brings to “Music and Company” every morning, The Gift of the Game is Tom Allen’s exploration of the ways in which hockey can shape the relationship between fathers and sons.

In the winter of 2001 Tom Allen stepped onto a frozen lake with his eight-year-old son. They laced up their skates, set out chunks of firewood as goal posts, and played one-on-one hockey under an enormous blue sky.

This would mark a new turn in Allen’s relationship with Wesley, even as other relationships began to fall apart. When Allen and his wife go their separate ways, it is hockey that forms the enduring bond between father and son. As Wesley grows in confidence and purpose, Allen grows into the mythic role of hockey dad and assistant coach, and spends his empty afternoons working on his own game on outdoor rinks, if only to avoid the silence of his apartment.

But what is this game to which he has entrusted his fragile sense of well-being and his son’s emerging sense of self? With keen intelligence and self-deprecating emotional honesty, Allen sets about answering the questions that shape his new life: How does hockey mould us? To what degree are we defined by our love of the game and our wish to be admired for our skill on the ice? What are the implications for our culture of a game that so privileges violence? In making of hockey the arena of his pride and love and self-respect, Allen is forced to figure out what the game itself means.


From the Hardcover edition.

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Introduction

I can tell you exactly when and where it started: March 2001, on Lac Croche, near Saint-Donat, in the Laurentians in Quebec. My parents live on the shore of Lac Croche. We were there to visit and ski for March break.

Normally, Lac Croche is buried in snow by March. It’s common...
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PRAISE FOR

“This is a great story for anyone with an interest in the game at the minor or recreational level, either as a player, parent or coach. The book is inspirational as it shows you are never too old to develop your own athletic skills and at the same time enrich your relationships in ways you never thought possible.” — The Calgary Sun

“A wonderful three-period reminder that hockey will always endure. Gentle, sad at times . . . this is a book about a man and his son and the redemptive nature of the game.”
Owen Sound Sun Times

"In The Gift of the Game, Tom Allen has uncovered the magic of hockey.  The lure of our national sport is both simple and wonderful.  Allen's personal journey assures us that, in the end, hockey has the power to make a lasting connection between Canadians."
—Scott Russell, Host CBC Sports Saturday

“Truly a gift for Canadian hockey fans. Tom Allen’s The Gift of the Game is a wonderful reminder that hockey at the grassroots level not only endures but also remains deeply embedded in our hearts and souls. As Allen rekindled my own childlike passion for the game, he reminds us of this tie that binds fathers and sons – and Canadians – alike.”
—Chris Cuthbert, TSN Hockey Commentator and co-author of The Rink

"The Gift of the Game is gentle, funny, and a little bit heart-breaking. It is not about hockey, really – it's what hockey is about. It’s about love.”
—Paul Quarrington