Cover image for Tropic of hockey : my search for the game in unlikely places
Tropic of hockey : my search for the game in unlikely places
Bidini, Dave.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Guilford, CT : Lyons Press, 2002.

Physical Description:
xix, 288 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
General Note:
"Originally published in 2000 by McClelland & Stewart, Ltd., Toronto"--T.p. verso.
Personal Subject:
Subject Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GV847 .B53 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
GV847 .B53 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



On a hot summer's day in 1998, when Dave Bidini found himself watching Martha Stewart rather than the Stanley Cup playoffs, he knew that something was seriously amiss: The game he loved had crossed the line. It was now an entertainment, not a sport. A passionate hockey fan and rec player, Bidini immediately resolved to follow Canada's best export to the rest of the world, to find out whether the true game still existed elsewhere.

His quest took him to a rink on the eighth floor of a shopping mall in Hong Kong; to the gritty city of Harbin in Northern China, where a game much like hockey has been played for six hundred years; to Dubai in the desert of The United Arab Emirates, where hockey is brand-new and incredulous Bedouin drop by the Al Ain rink to wonder at the ice; and to Transylvania, where the game was introduced in the 1920s by a ten-second newsreel of Canadians chasing after a puck, and where it is now played as a vicarious war between Romanians and ethnic Hungarians. In "Tropic of Hockey," Bidini weaves hilarious stories of encounters with rinks and players of wildly different talents and experiences with tales of his travels and spot-on observations about the game and players.

Author Notes

Dave Bidini's first book was 1998's critically acclaimed On a Cold Road. When he is not writing, traveling, or playing hockey, Bidini plays rhythm guitar for the much-loved Canadian rock band, the Rheostatics. He lives with his wife and daughter in Toronto, Ontario

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Devoted to a low-scoring sport impossible for neophytes to follow on TV, hockey fans are a breed apart--and not one restricted to northern Euro-American precincts. After a chance encounter in 1986 with a "spectral figure from Canada's game" in a small Georgia town, Bidini reconnected with the sport of his youth. More recently, disenchanted with the NHL's fascination with "the Trap, a form of hockey which is . . . the equivalent of playing Pong," he searched the world around for hockey "as it was before . . . the pro game had betrayed tradition for quick-buck teams and a style that relied more on chalkboard patterns than spontaneous, tongue-wagging, river play." He found it. In China, Transylvania, and the United Arab Emirates (!) were players and fans whose passion was much closer to his ideal. At his odyssey's end--"a rink in the coldest town in Romania"--Bidini immersed himself in the game and its reassuringly cross-cultural appeal. A just-plain-good sports book, must reading for hockey fans. Hey! No crosschecking in the stacks! Mike Tribby.

Publisher's Weekly Review

Canadian writer and rock musician Bidini (On a Cold Road) shares his rediscovery of hockey and the global odyssey that brought him back to his nation's sport. Bidini's narrative is funny and thoughtful as he comes to grips with national identity, which in Canada almost invariably means hockey. The book's central theme is that of a dispossessed fan, one who grew out of the sport as he embraced rock and roll, only to rediscover the joy and beauty of hockey as an adult. An avid recreational player, Bidini tells a funny story about his search for the real game. Bored nearly to death by the clutch-and-grab NHL of the late 1990s, he spends an evening watching Martha Stewart instead of his once-beloved playoffs. "I had no choice but to leave," he quips. And leave he does, searching the earth for hockey in its purest form. From Hong Kong to Manchuria, from Transylvania to the United Arab Emirates, the author discovers players and personalities the casual NHL fan would never imagine. Like all good travelogues, Bidini's carries a healthy dose of soul searching; a great storyteller, he's at his best when he stumbles upon revelations about himself or hockey. Perhaps the book's greatest strength is that it is among the first hockey books written by someone entirely outside the pro game. Free from the behavioral constraints and clannish codes of the locker room, Bidini tells a story about hockey that neither Wayne Gretzky nor the author's beloved Wendel Clark could mimic. Canadians have enjoyed this book for almost two years; it's time American readers got a chance to read this gem. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

The goal of Canadian hockey enthusiast, writer, and musician Bidini was to see whether the true game existed outside of North America. Technically, the game is played consistently around the globe; the real question was the cultural imperatives players brought to the game. Bidini's travelog is thus a humorous cultural expos of people and how they play the game. The adventure included stops in China, Singapore, the Philippines, a rink on the eighth floor of a mall in Hong Kong, the desert city of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, and Transylvania (in Romania), where hockey remains a war between rival ethnic groups. The result is a delightful read that both armchair travelers and aficionados will enjoy. Recommended for public libraries and all sports collections. Larry R. Little, Penticton P.L., B.C. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Prologue: The Night of the Goaltenderp. xiii
Part 1 China
1 Kris King Looks Terriblep. 3
2 Ahmed Yelled at Mohammedp. 15
3 Taffy Had a Sweet Toothp. 27
4 Wendel and the Bellsp. 38
5 The Fall of Darwishp. 53
6 Northrop Frye in Tacksp. 64
7 The Eyes of Sam Wongp. 71
8 The Foxes of Pea Packp. 88
9 Bobby Clarke's Teethp. 99
10 Tripped, Slashed, Spearedp. 114
11 A Certain Mr. Liup. 124
12 Eight Ball for the Worldp. 135
Part 2 The United Arab Emirates
13 Merlin Snows the Desertp. 151
14 Journey to the Temple of the Dogp. 163
15 The Sudanese Cyclonep. 174
16 The United Colours of Losingp. 185
17 A Busload of Espop. 192
18 Chicken Night in Dubaip. 198
19 Kuwaiti Kick-Ass Breakdownp. 206
20 The Motherland of Hockeyp. 215
Part 3 Transylvania
21 Where Spearing Comes Fromp. 227
22 The Epiphany of Vakar Lajosp. 238
23 The Last Canadian Gamep. 247
24 Steaua Wears a Black Hatp. 258
25 The Return of Espop. 278
26 The Tropic of Hockeyp. 280
Acknowledgementsp. 285