The first indoor hockey match took place in 1875--and since that fateful date, the sport has occupied a central place in North American life. Here are the gods and villains of the game, those whose exploits won cheers, drew forth curses, and sometimes even elicited tears. Their tale, skillfully combining character and incident, traces hockey's changes from its amateur days to the moment when pros skated on artificial ice to the exciting and significant Canada-Russia summit series. Meet hockey's greats, like Cyclone Taylor and Newsy Lalonde; the glory teams of the 1940s, 50s, and 60s; the powerful owners; and the tragic players, like superstar Howie Morenz, dead at 35. You will come to understand the power of this poetic, violent, and gloriously improvisational sport.