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Book Review - Marcel Pronovost - A Life In Hockey

By Jason Kasiorek
February 5th, 2013

Marcel Pronovost is one of the unsung heroes of the Detroit Red Wings championship teams of the 1950s. In contrast, teammates Ted Lindsay, Alex Delvecchio, Terry Sawchuk and Gordie Howe, whose stories have been told and re-told, are household names. Now Marcel finally tells his story in Marcel Pronovost A Life in Hockey, written with veteran hockey writer Bob Duff.

The book provides a glimpse into the all-star defenseman's story from childhood through his 20 year NHL playing career and beyond. Though tame compared to some of the recent hockey biographies to hit the shelves, Marcel has some captivating tales to tell. Even a Red Wings buff like myself found things I did not know and details I hadn't heard before.

The photos in this book alone make it worth the price of admission as nearly every page has at least one. The picture's depict Marcel's time in Junior and also detail his rise through the storied Red Wings farm system in the 40's. Rare team pictures with Windsor and Omaha are highlights of the collection. The real gems however are the candid, posed and action shots of Marcel and his teammates throughout his long career, many of which I had never seen before.

At first blush it may seem that Pronovost is a bit full of himself, but it soon becomes apparent that he is merely a man with supreme confidence in his abilities - and rightly so, as his accomplishments speak for themselves. The book recounts his all-star selections, playoff exploits and 8 Stanley Cups. Pronovost has a record for longevity with 65 years in pro hockey as a player, coach and scout.

Pronovost had a unique relationship with the talented but enigmatic Terry Sawchuk, painting him in a much more flattering light than most of his teammates. The two lived together and had a long friendship that lasted through their time in the Detroit system and continued on while they were teammates in Toronto. Pronovost dedicated an entire chapter to this friendship and, in tales from the 1967 Maple Leafs Cup win, describes Sawchuk in almost hero worship terms.

Pronovost goes on to describe the trials and tribulations of being a pro hockey coach once his playing career had wound down, including the requisite chapter on coaching in the WHA and his opinions of the league. He concludes with an account of his present day employment with the New Jersey Devils as a valued Scout.

If you are a fan of the golden years of the NHL, this book is for you. For a fascinating look into a player that perhaps hasn't gotten his due, pick up a copy of Marcel Pronovost A Life in Hockey. You won't be disappointed, and you probably won't be able to put it down either.