'A Great Game': Stephen Harper’s hockey book to be released on November 5th

The prime minister's book on the history of hockey, shown in a handout photo, is set for a Nov. 5 release.It took a little while to complete (he's been a little busy with his day job), but it looks like Prime Minister Stephen Harper's hockey book will be on store shelves on November 5th, just in time for Christmas.

Simon and Schuster — the publisher of the book called A Great Game: The Forgotten Leafs and the Rise of Professional Hockey — made the announcement via a press release on Wednesday.

Drawing on extensive archival records and illustrations, histories of the sport, and newspaper files, A Great Game delves into the fascinating early years of ice hockey. It tells of the hockey heroes and hard-boiled businessmen who built the game, and the rise and fall of legendary teams pursuing the Stanley Cup. With a historian's perspective and fan's passion, Stephen Harper presents a riveting and often-surprising portrait, capturing everything from the physical contests on the rinks to the battles behind the scenes and the changing social conventions of the twentieth century.

A century ago, rinks could melt, and by half time the blades screwed to the players' shoes could be sinking in mud. It was during this period that the unsuccessful Toronto Professionals of 1908 and the victorious Toronto Blue Shirts of 1914 battled for the city's very first Stanley Cup. Against the fanatical opposition of amateur hockey leaders, these "forgotten Leafs" would lay the groundwork for the world's most profitable hockey franchise.

In paying tribute to these hockey pioneers and the contagious loyalty of their fans, Stephen Harper resurrects the rough and tumble history of hockey's first decades. A Great Game will be illustrated with photographs of the game's greatest arenas and earliest star players.

Like millions of other Canadians, Stephen Harper developed his love for hockey at a young age as he played at the arenas and on the shinny rinks and roads of his hometown.

Today, long retired from his on-ice "career" with the Leaside Lions, he is serving as Canada's 22nd Prime Minister, and is happily married to Laureen who, with their children Ben and Rachel, live in Calgary and Ottawa.

A member of the Society of International Hockey Research with a particular interest in the early decades of the game, Mr. Harper is an amateur historian interested in exploring the sport's impact on the people and places that define Canada. A Great Game is his first published work on the game of hockey.

It took the former Leaside Lion about eight years to write the book and while he has been coy about the topic, it's existence has been widely publicized.

PostMedia News' Stephen Maher recently chronicled the history of the 'talk' of the book:

"The book was first mentioned publicly in 2005, when a friend told the Globe and Mail it was a hobby Harper became more serious about over time.

In 2006, Harper told CBC that he had hoped to finish it by then, but found it hard to put in the time. He described the research as “an escape from the pressures of the job.”

In 2010, a friend told a hockey researcher that Harper had completed a manuscript, but that he was unhappy with parts of it. He had personally hired (and personally paid) a full-time researcher — Greg Stoicoiu of Calgary. He has made several visits himself to the Hockey Hall of Fame Resource Centre in Toronto to dig through its collection.

In 2011, Harper said the book would be published in 2012 after eight years of working on it for 15 minutes a day."

While some critics have suggested the book was part of a political ploy to appear more like the 'common man', the prime minister is actually quite the hockey historian.

In a February 2012 article, the Toronto Star noted that Harper "has written extensively about the game" for several publications, including Sports Illustrated.

[ Related: It’s time for Stephen Harper to march in a gay pride parade ]

Harper won't be making any money from sales of this book, however.

According to the publisher, all of the "author proceeds" will go to the Canadian Forces Personnel and Family Support Services (CFPFSS).

"The specific fund that the proceeds will be donated to is the Military Families Fund, which provides emergency financial assistance to military families faced with unforeseen and often immediate needs that have resulted due to conditions of service," the press release notes.

You can see a video trailer of the book here.

(Photo courtesy of Reuters)

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