Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Ten Questions, with C. Michael Hiam

Share |
Ten Questions, with C. Michael Hiam

Michael Hiam talks to Open Book about "Old-Time Hockey," and how the game has changed since the days when Eddie Shore, a Canadian prairie boy with a temper like a tornado, became a member of the Boston Bruins in 1926. If you have a hockey fan on your "nice" list, Hiam's book Eddie Shore and that Old-Time Hockey (McClelland & Stewart, 2010) could be just what you're looking for.

Open Book:

Why were you inspired to write Eddie Shore and that Old-Time Hockey?

C. Michael Hiam:

I initially set out to write a book about the Big Bad Bruins of the Bobby Orr years, late 1960s and early 1970s. A few weeks into my research, however, I realized, for various reasons, that I this was not a book that I really wanted to write and so began to cast around for another subject. Eddie Shore came to mind, and I was surprised to learn that relatively little biographical work had been done on him despite the fact that he was such a giant — and a colorful and controversial one at that — of NHL history. So, I buckled down and began to write about his life and hockey times.

OB:

How would you describe "Old-Time Hockey"?

CMH:

“Old-Time Hockey,” for me, represents the days when the sport was considerably more violent than it is today, when it was (with the rare exception) purely Canadian, when most players were expected to give generously of their blood, and where colorful personalities, both on and off the ice, defined the game.

OB:

What do think has changed the most about professional hockey since Eddie Shore's time?

CMH:

What has changed is that, well, it’s more professional. As examples: training now is nearly a year-round affair, hockey players are no longer slaves to the clubs and actually have legal rights and representation, salaries are fantastic (at least at the NHL level) compared to what they were just a few decades ago, the officiating is superb when once it was really a joke, players are much better protected against injury, fighting on ice is very tightly controlled and the marketing of hockey is far more sophisticated than what it once was.

OB:

What were you most surprised to learn about Eddie Shore?

CMH:

That he could sustain a book-length biography! I initially thought that my project would be perhaps fifty percent Shore and fifty percent “Old-Time Hockey” since, in all likelihood, Shore would have had his interesting years, and then his not-so interesting years which would have to be replaced with other material. In fact, there was always something going on with Shore and this was never necessary. While I do look at the NY Rangers of yore, and also King Clancy and Howie Morenz, plus some other personalities like Con Smythe in my book , Eddie kept me focused and kept me busy from the first page to the last.

OB:

Is there anyone in professional hockey today who you might call a modern-day Eddie Shore?

CMH:

The day Shore was born, November 25, 1902, they broke the mold.

OB:

How did you conduct the research for this book?

CMH:

Before I wrote my book there was only one reliable biographical piece on Shore (and from which everyone else has copied), Ed Fitzgerald’s “Eddie Shore: ‘Old Blood and Guts’ of Hockey,” appearing in Sport, February 1950. There was nothing else of substance. I had, therefore, to spend an enormous amount of time going through microfilm copies of old newspapers. I was also helped by scrap-book collections generously made available to me. Ted Shore, Shore’s only child, provided me with a lot of family material, plus, of course, I read everything I could find on Shore in books and magazines spanning the decades. I made research trips to Alberta and Saskatchewan, and in Springfield, Massachusetts I interviewed a fair number of people who knew Shore well. Additionally, I stumbled across any number of other sources, such as Shore’s school records. As a researcher, the trick is to look into every nook and cranny that you can think of, and then to try to think of more!

OB:

Who are your favourite sports biographers?

CMH:

I really only read about hockey, and Stan Fischler and Trent Frayne are the kings of the hill.

OB:

We've been trying to bring a seventh NHL team to Canada for some time now. Do you think it will happen, and do you have an opinion about the matter?

CMH:

I do have an opinion which is that I absolutely hope it will happen. How does it make sense to have a franchise in Arizona on chronic life support when there are far more deserving cities — Hamilton and Quebec City, to name just two — in Canada? To answer my own question, it doesn’t.

OB:

What is your greatest hockey memory?

CMH:

Watching, at age 10, the Boston Whalers of the WHL in the loge section of the old Boston Garden; those were rough-and-tumble affairs, the last vestiges of “Old-Time Hockey.”

OB:

Do you have another book project in mind?

CMH:

It’s titled, Dirigible Dreams: Of Human Flight and the Past Future of the Airship.


Michael Hiam first book, a biography of a CIA analyst active during the Vietnam War, Who the Hell Are we Fighting? The Story of Sam Adams and the Vietnam Intelligence Wars, was published in 2006. He lives in Newton, Massachusetts and coaches Saturday morning hockey with the Newton Youth Hockey Association.

For more information about Eddie Shore and that Old Time Hockey please visit the McClelland & Stewart website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

Related item from our archives

JF Robitaille: Minor Dedications

Dundurn

Open Book App Ad