Enough Heat to Melt the Ice

A new generation of novels about hockey finds the action away from the rink

I tend to talk on the ice. I’m speaking here not of the regular chorus of swearing and middle-aged male complaint that is the usual soundtrack of your typical Friday morning pick-up hockey game—this has more to do with narrative. As the guys I play with will testify, if I’m not the one who’s going to score a goal, I will probably have something to say about whether the puck rollicked into the top corner or jinked there—or did the goaltender just foozle it? It somehow seems of vital importance, out there on the ice, lagging behind the play, to find the right words for the hockey we’re playing here.

Hockey always did have trouble expressing itself. Part of that has to do, I think, with just how ridiculous an enterprise it remains. Don’t agree? Try to explain its fundamentals aloud, as if to someone who’s never heard of it—the skates and the sticks, the elusive puck, the fact that you’re not supposed to...