Currently, I am in the process of reading “Thirty Years of the Game at its Best” edited by Gare Joyce. This book is about how Canada Junior Hockey really took off in the 80s and became a dominating force in the international sports arena. It details year by year the impact of Hockey Canada’s “Program of Excellence” in order to make Canada’s Junior Hockey National Team a force in international play.
There are several contributors to the stories of each year’s ascent to excellence. The book gives anecdotes of international games the teams played as well as how that impacted the Canadian Junior Hockey team over the years.
For you Americans out there who don’t know hockey too much, think of Team USA baseball and how it tries to get the best young players in the game to compete internationally for the country.
This book is truly a great recollection of the history of Hockey Canada’s “Program of Excellence” and how Canadian Junior Hockey has worked it’s way to become one of the best national junior hockey programs in the world by winning 15 gold medals over a 30 year period.
I’m currently reading about the 80s Canadian Junior Hockey teams with players like Mario Lemieux, Steve Yzerman, and Dave Andreychuk. But I can’t wait until I get to the 90s and 2000s teams where I get to read more about the players that I have grown up watching before they spent their time in the NHL.
As related to hockey cards, in honor of the “Program of Excellence”, over the past few years Upper Deck has created a subset in The Cup hockey entitled Program of Excellence which features autographs from players who have played on Team Canada with photos in their Team Canada jerseys. They have also used the name several times in previous sets in the 90s.