99: Stories of the Game Info

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“The Great One” weaves memories of his legendary
career with an inside look at the sport of professional hockey, and the
heroes and stories that inspired him.

From minor-hockey
phenomenon to Hall of Fame sensation, Wayne Gretzky rewrote the record
books, his accomplishments becoming the stuff of legend. Dubbed
“The Great One,” he is considered by many to be the greatest
hockey player who ever lived. No one has seen more of the game than he
has—but he has never discussed in depth just what it was he
saw.
For the first time, Gretzky discusses candidly what the
game looks like to him and introduces us to the people who inspired and
motivated him: mentors, teammates, rivals, the famous and the lesser
known. Weaving together lives and moments from an extraordinary career,
he reflects on the players who inflamed his imagination when he was a
kid, the way he himself figured in the dreams of so many who came after;
takes us onto the ice and into the dressing rooms to meet the friends
who stood by him and the rivals who spurred him to greater heights;
shows us some of the famous moments in hockey history through the eyes
of someone who regularly made that history.
Warm, direct, and
revelatory, it is a book that gives us number 99, the man and the
player, like never before.

Average Ratings and Reviews
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3.83

1365 Ratings

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Reviews for 99: Stories of the Game:

3

Jan 26, 2017

In 99: Stories of the Game, Wayne Gretzky celebrates the 99th anniversary of the NHL by penning short stories that help to illuminate the history of the league. Intertwining his own career with that of several legendary players like Maurice Richard, Gordie Howe, Mark Messier and Bobby Orr, Gretzky presents a compelling take on the often brutal history of the sport.

I wouldn’t consider myself a hockey aficionado by any means, but having read a handful of books and having watched the excellent CBC In 99: Stories of the Game, Wayne Gretzky celebrates the 99th anniversary of the NHL by penning short stories that help to illuminate the history of the league. Intertwining his own career with that of several legendary players like Maurice Richard, Gordie Howe, Mark Messier and Bobby Orr, Gretzky presents a compelling take on the often brutal history of the sport.

I wouldn’t consider myself a hockey aficionado by any means, but having read a handful of books and having watched the excellent CBC series Hockey: A People’s History (which, if you haven’t seen, you need to), I would say that I know a bit more than an average fan. With Gretzky somewhat akin to that of a folk-hero in Canada, the biggest moments of his career and those of the NHL are well known among even the most casual of hockey fans so I thought, what more could he bring to the table? Turns out, I didn’t know quite as much as I thought I did.

Did you know that early on, games were played in two thirty minute halves? This was later changed by the owners to three twenty minute periods so that fans would empty their pockets at the concessions more often. Even infamous Leafs’ owner Harold Ballard would go so far as to shut off the water fountains to force fans to buy more drinks after the first intermission. In keeping with the business side of the sport, Wayne talks about some of the failed expansion franchises (The California Golden Seals was a terrible name) and the NHL’s battle with the World Hockey Association (WHA) in the 1970s. While this isn’t mind-blowing information, it’s little trivia tidbits like this that help to fill out the book between big, historical moments in the game’s history.

As far as recollections of his own career, there’s a lot here for his fans to sink their teeth into. For example, when he had advised the New York Rangers of his intent to retire at the end of the 1998/1999 season, the then Rangers GM Glen Sather passed Wayne a cheque for one million dollars asking that he reconsider his decision for another week and if he still decided to retire, he could keep the million. He declined the cheque. Wayne’s a stronger man than me. He also covers events like his trade to Los Angeles, the controversial high-sticking call from the 1993 playoffs and his chase to surpass Gordie Howe’s 801 career goals.

Gretzky doesn’t limit himself to just his NHL career, he also discusses his own role on the world stage with his three consecutive Canada Cup appearances and the disastrous 1998 Olympics. He also reminisces about Canada’s presence in international hockey with the ‘72 Summit Series with Russia as well as the 2002 team where he served as GM winning Olympic gold.

If I had to list a negative, it would be that there is no mention of the consistently strong Canadian women’s international team throughout the years. Yes, I know this book is grounded in the all-male NHL but with Gretzky’s tangents into amateaur hockey in the Olympics, it wouldn’t have hurt to throw a little praise the way of the women. They won silver in Nagano in 1998 and have dominated every Olympic games since with gold medal wins in 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014. Then again, maybe Wayne isn’t as knowledgeable in that area.

With the exception of the stories about Willie O’Ree breaking the color barrier and the first aboriginal player Fred Sasakamoose’s troubled history with Residential Schools, Wayne keeps the subject matter rather light (that’s not a knock on those stories as I feel they’re absolutely essential). What we end up with is an easy and enjoyable read that didn’t allow itself to get bogged down by massive information dumps, which tends to happen with many large nonfiction books. 99: Stories of the Game is one of the better hockey books I’ve read. ...more
4

Jan 08, 2017

99 years of hockey history told by #99, "The Great One", Wayne Gretzky. Gretzky retraces the early days of hockey in North America, from the debated origins of the game to the very modern technology of player equipment and training styles.

I've followed hockey closely for nearly 18 years. Unfortunately, this was the exact time that Gretzky retired from the NHL, so I was not able to see him play live, but have seen many clips, snippets, documentaries, and a few alumni events where he laced up 99 years of hockey history told by #99, "The Great One", Wayne Gretzky. Gretzky retraces the early days of hockey in North America, from the debated origins of the game to the very modern technology of player equipment and training styles.

I've followed hockey closely for nearly 18 years. Unfortunately, this was the exact time that Gretzky retired from the NHL, so I was not able to see him play live, but have seen many clips, snippets, documentaries, and a few alumni events where he laced up again. The book reiterates that Wayne may be the most gracious and humble of sports superstars - always crediting the strength of the team, the coaching, the training and equipment, and the decades of history before him.

His greatest accolades are for Gordie Howe, whom he idolized at a very young age...

...but he spends pages and pages of this history on many players and coaches who you may never have heard of or read about, but who changed the game and the way it was played.

I enjoyed the early history before the League was formed, and the later recounting of early Original 6 days. I liked the in-depth histories of the players who represented cultural shifts in the game - the first black and First Nations players.

Some chapters focus on specific teams and their players and staff, while others focus on movements or tournaments. In this way, the book is not chronological and shifts through 99 years of history rapidly. He usually reorients the reader, but it can be a pretty quick time shift in some cases.

The latter half of the book focuses more specifically on Gretzky's time in the NHL, as well as in team and Olympic management. There is very little about his stats and plays; instead, he lauds the players around him, the coaches and strategists he worked with, and the strong hockey cultures of several cities and teams. The Canada Cup series stories of the 80s and early 90s were quite fun to listen to - both in the talk about the Russian players and the rise of American players. Several of the players in this era are ones I am more familiar with for their later play. It's always fun to hear funny side stories about bus trips, dinners out, and all the things that happen off the ice.

After finishing the audiobook, we spent some time watching old YouTube clips and looking up some of the old photos, and that really enriched the whole experience! It gives me a greater appreciation for the game I've enjoyed and followed (and traveled to many arenas to watch in person!) for years. It made me admire Gretzky even more.

A must for any fan of hockey and sports history.

---

Read for 1) my love of hockey and 2) the Book Riot 2017 "A book about sports" category ...more
3

Dec 21, 2016

Mixed feelings about this book - on the one hand, who wouldn't want to hear about hockey stories from the greatest player of our generation and arguably ever to lace up the skates? Except if you ask him and some others, that honor goes to Gordie Howe, who is frequently mentioned and praised throughout the book.

The information is great, Gretzky is not a braggart or conceited in any way and fans will love hearing about the entire history of the NHL through his viewpoint. However, as a book, I had Mixed feelings about this book - on the one hand, who wouldn't want to hear about hockey stories from the greatest player of our generation and arguably ever to lace up the skates? Except if you ask him and some others, that honor goes to Gordie Howe, who is frequently mentioned and praised throughout the book.

The information is great, Gretzky is not a braggart or conceited in any way and fans will love hearing about the entire history of the NHL through his viewpoint. However, as a book, I had trouble following it. It isn't strictly chronological and that is okay, but he skips around a lot - the narration goes from the early 20th century to the early 21st century and back. Also, the chapters may have certain titles, but they certainly are not exclusive to that subject. The section of the book that seems to have this issue is when he talks about the expansion teams of 1967. For example, the chapter on the Minnesota North Stars has nine pages in the electronic version - only three of these pages are about the North Stars and the other six are about some of his Edmonton teammates who have no connection to the North Stars (or Dallas Stars). Therefore, how can this be a chapter about that team? The stories are great - just not organized well.

Because of this, I stopped listening to the audio book about halfway through and picked up the e-book but that didn't help either - still was getting lost during each chapter. If this were a long conversation that one has with Gretzky over a couple of beers, this would be great, but to try to read it or just listen - it fell short. Giving it three stars because of the content - that alone made it at least worth the time to read or listen. ...more
5

May 24, 2017

"You miss 100% of the shots you don't take - Wayne Gretzky" - Michael Scott
5

Oct 16, 2019

Cool book of the general history of hockey, growth of the NHL, and various players though history. Good book for those wanting to learn more about the Gabe with enjoyable stories along the way
5

Dec 07, 2016

I'm not really a hockey fan but Gretzy's passion for the game makes it universal. I didn't quite make it though all 99 stories (did some skimming in the third section) but beyond the endless litany of player's names and the extensive history of the shifting teams and political landscape, there are many interesting anecdotes and a deep look at the drive, determination, fitness, and strategy required to make hockey happen. My favorite anecdote ends the book, where Wayne describes his grandmother I'm not really a hockey fan but Gretzy's passion for the game makes it universal. I didn't quite make it though all 99 stories (did some skimming in the third section) but beyond the endless litany of player's names and the extensive history of the shifting teams and political landscape, there are many interesting anecdotes and a deep look at the drive, determination, fitness, and strategy required to make hockey happen. My favorite anecdote ends the book, where Wayne describes his grandmother taking him to his first NHL game. For the fan in the fam, it's time well spent. ...more
3

Oct 22, 2016

I love hockey (especially the oilers) and history books so I knew I would enjoy this and I did. I love all the stories; however, the story telling is a little frenetic and all over the place. I appreciate it as a piece of hockey history though and if you are a fan of the game you should check it out.
3

Jan 31, 2017

An entertaining read for any NHL hockey fan who has an interest in the league's past history. The book intersects between Wayne's career and the players in hockey's past that shaped it. Lots of great behind the scenes stories that shaped the images I caught on TV while growing up.
4

Jun 04, 2017

I enjoyed this book because I'm a hockey fan and a Gretzky fan. His love for the game shows in the variety of interesting stories. The literary quality isn't the greatest, but it's not bad either. Reading this has me wanting to read his 1991 autobiography.
5

Jan 18, 2019

My book was informational. Wayne Gretzky is the best hockey player who ever lived. I think a theme for this book could be love. I picked love because Wayne Gretzky loves the game of hockey. He told 99
(99 was his number) stories of the game of hockey, he would not know all of them without determination and the love for the game.
5

Dec 30, 2019

Great read. Brought me back to my childhood. Also, pushed me to literally look up every person on YouTube bc the feels
4

Sep 08, 2017

I really loved learning about the beginning of the NHL. It has been an exciting 99 years and with that the hockey greats are always present. The stories of the players as well as the teams building into what they are now was definitely exciting to read.
I could put this book down and pick it up and a new story in each chapter did not puzzle me.
I could hear Wayne Gretzky speaking as I read. It was like I was listening to him talk. A great book for any hockey fan.
5

Jan 27, 2018

This is a must read for anyone that is a Gretzky fan, an Oilers fan or for that matter a hockey fan. I grew up in an area that did not have hockey of any kind. We may have played field hockey in PE one day. There was no in door ice and the ponds in our area were not often safe for skating. On top of that very few of us even had skates. I vaguely remember the "Miracle on Ice" during the Olympics.

A cousin took me to my first hockey game when I started college as a U.S. student in Alberta. It was a This is a must read for anyone that is a Gretzky fan, an Oilers fan or for that matter a hockey fan. I grew up in an area that did not have hockey of any kind. We may have played field hockey in PE one day. There was no in door ice and the ponds in our area were not often safe for skating. On top of that very few of us even had skates. I vaguely remember the "Miracle on Ice" during the Olympics.

A cousin took me to my first hockey game when I started college as a U.S. student in Alberta. It was a Red Deer Rebels game. I enjoyed it a great deal even though I spent most of the game learning the basic rules. After that I only really watched the Oilers from 1982. I am a Oilers fan and only an Oilers fan when it comes to NHL. I cheer for both Canada and the U.S. in international hockey. And I have become a fan of the Camrose Kodiaks Jr. team. But my favorite NHL player has always been, by far, Wayne Gretzky because of the way he handles himself on and off the ice.

99 Stories of the Game is an excellent, fun, emotional, and informational read. ...more
5

Dec 30, 2016

I've always loved the game, and as an 8-yr old was absolutely thrilled to read about heroes I never even saw play, replicating their greatest exploits on the local pond. These stars were as romantic to Canadians as the Duke and the Cartwrights were to Americans. I thought I'd read (and heard locker room gossip) about everything there was in hockey, but was very pleasantly surprised to discover new anecdotes of this book, typically ringing the bell of those values, ethics, or whatever that draws I've always loved the game, and as an 8-yr old was absolutely thrilled to read about heroes I never even saw play, replicating their greatest exploits on the local pond. These stars were as romantic to Canadians as the Duke and the Cartwrights were to Americans. I thought I'd read (and heard locker room gossip) about everything there was in hockey, but was very pleasantly surprised to discover new anecdotes of this book, typically ringing the bell of those values, ethics, or whatever that draws many fans to the sport. Gretzky's historical vignettes add much to understanding the hockey cultures that flow towards this common passion. It also made me crave for a sequel book that further opens the door to other countries' perspectives like Finland and Sweden, Germany and Switzerland, Korea and Japan... perhaps with stories about their stars, systems, politics, etc. Wonderful work, Wayner... a Great book, eh! ...more
5

Jan 03, 2017

Very enjoyable read! Wasn't really sure what to expect going into this one. Thought it might be just a chronicle of some of his most memorable career moments. That likely would have been great, too, coming right from the man himself. However, the book delves into the NHL's deep history quite a bit. Gretzky's reflections on the NHL were not the usual, same old-same old stories that I'd heard a thousand times before...thankfully! Some of them were familiar, yes, but if they were, there was always Very enjoyable read! Wasn't really sure what to expect going into this one. Thought it might be just a chronicle of some of his most memorable career moments. That likely would have been great, too, coming right from the man himself. However, the book delves into the NHL's deep history quite a bit. Gretzky's reflections on the NHL were not the usual, same old-same old stories that I'd heard a thousand times before...thankfully! Some of them were familiar, yes, but if they were, there was always something new added that I hadn't heard before. Or Gretzky put his own perspective on it that made the story unique. Adding to this, he nicely wove in some stories from his own career that related to many of the topics he was writing about.

It's a great, fun, entertaining read. For a book of stories about the NHL's history, I can't think of one that is better. Check it out!! ...more
4

Nov 06, 2016

Gretzky's love for the game, and the people who play it, shows throughout this book. I listened to the audio version, and would sometimes lose track of the evolution of the teams during the early chapters devoted to pre-NHL times. When I listen to it again I will take a break in between chapters to help avoid the "this team begat that team" fatigue. My son said that worked well for him; and as he is even more of a hockey fan than I am (he has cats named Gretzky and Kariya) I'll take his Gretzky's love for the game, and the people who play it, shows throughout this book. I listened to the audio version, and would sometimes lose track of the evolution of the teams during the early chapters devoted to pre-NHL times. When I listen to it again I will take a break in between chapters to help avoid the "this team begat that team" fatigue. My son said that worked well for him; and as he is even more of a hockey fan than I am (he has cats named Gretzky and Kariya) I'll take his suggestion:-) ...more
4

Dec 27, 2016

3.5. I listened to the audiobook so it was a bit hard to keep track of all the names but the stories were interesting as was listening to how the NHL developed. I wasn't crazy about the narrator but he was better when I had him on 1.25 speed.
5

Nov 09, 2017

I really enjoyed reading this book and if you like nonfiction books, hockey, and biography's you should enjoy this book.
5

Aug 05, 2019

I read this on the beach...a great beach read for hockey fans. Read a story, take a break. read a story and take another break. Some great insights. Enjoyed it!
5

May 28, 2018

Any hockey fan will love this book. I love how they blended past, present and future of the sport. Great collection of stories. I am a huge Ted Lindsey fan. Who f thought he would be a feminist? Get this book for any hockey lover in your life.
5

Oct 29, 2017

I enjoyed this book, for the most part, the only bad part about it was that there were so many different players and coaches that it would get confusing. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes the game of hockey. Wayne Gretzky narrates the story mainly talking about exciting stories and games that he played that makes you sit on the edge of your seat to see how it all panned out. This book also talks about how the game was way different back then since there were fewer teams and teams I enjoyed this book, for the most part, the only bad part about it was that there were so many different players and coaches that it would get confusing. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes the game of hockey. Wayne Gretzky narrates the story mainly talking about exciting stories and games that he played that makes you sit on the edge of your seat to see how it all panned out. This book also talks about how the game was way different back then since there were fewer teams and teams could be stacked since there wasn't any form of a salary cap. This book was extremely interesting and grew my knowledge about the game and makes me wish there was a second book. ...more
5

Jul 01, 2017

A wonderful book for any hockey enthusiast that is more than just about Wayne Gretzky, but includes bits and pieces from ninety-nine years of the National Hockey League.

I won an uncorrected proof advanced reading copy of this book during a Goodreads giveaway. I am under no obligation to leave a review or rating and do so voluntarily. So that others may also enjoy this book, I am paying it forward by donating it to a friend who has shared his love of sports with his father and now his son.
3

Nov 11, 2017

If you're looking for a book with stories about Gretzky, then you best look elsewhere. While this book has many great stories, it is what it says on the cover. A wide variety of historical anecdotes that are about each team in the NHL and many from the WHL. He kind of does a sweeping coverage of each team. Mostly including just one or two stories about a lot of teams. As such, the overall book doesn't have any flow. It really is just a bunch of different stories packed together. If you want to If you're looking for a book with stories about Gretzky, then you best look elsewhere. While this book has many great stories, it is what it says on the cover. A wide variety of historical anecdotes that are about each team in the NHL and many from the WHL. He kind of does a sweeping coverage of each team. Mostly including just one or two stories about a lot of teams. As such, the overall book doesn't have any flow. It really is just a bunch of different stories packed together. If you want to just hear a bunch of fun stories about hockey history, great! Otherwise, it's not a very strong book. ...more
3

Nov 20, 2019

When arguably the greatest hockey player ever wants to tell stories about the game, people are going to want to hear them. In 99, Gretzky illuminates the first 99 years of the National Hockey League with inside information about the players, personalities, and teams that have made their mark for almost a century. The Great One is at his best when talking about the league's great players and game builders. The book's weakness is that each chapter includes too many comparisons and analogies to his When arguably the greatest hockey player ever wants to tell stories about the game, people are going to want to hear them. In 99, Gretzky illuminates the first 99 years of the National Hockey League with inside information about the players, personalities, and teams that have made their mark for almost a century. The Great One is at his best when talking about the league's great players and game builders. The book's weakness is that each chapter includes too many comparisons and analogies to his teammates over the years - mostly on the Edmonton Oilers. A story about Jean Beliveau will end with a Mark Messier anecdote, Vladislav Tretiak leads to a Grant Fuhr story, etc. At times, it feels like the full title could have been 99: All about Wayne & Friends. Still, lots of enjoyable nuggets here for hockey fans. ...more
5

Jun 06, 2017

Having received a copy of "99: Stories Of The Game" as one of my Christmas gifts, I looked at it intrigued, but assumed it was an autobiography of Wayne Gretzky and kind of set it aside, in my to-be-read pile.

After reading the first 50 pages by happenstance one day (not at my house, and not my gifted copy), I was hooked and fascinated, and set out immediately to devour the books content.

In the book, Gretzky takes readers on a history of the game of hockey, from its earliest roots, to the Having received a copy of "99: Stories Of The Game" as one of my Christmas gifts, I looked at it intrigued, but assumed it was an autobiography of Wayne Gretzky and kind of set it aside, in my to-be-read pile.

After reading the first 50 pages by happenstance one day (not at my house, and not my gifted copy), I was hooked and fascinated, and set out immediately to devour the books content.

In the book, Gretzky takes readers on a history of the game of hockey, from its earliest roots, to the creation of the league's trophies, to expansion, dynasties, the game's greatest players, and more!

Sharing insights only he can, The Great One is surprisingly candid throughout(though it still is not a tell-all), as he turns each history lesson into anecdotal stories from his hall-of-fame career.

Gretzky's passion for the game seeps through every page, and his love of the game and it's rich history is abundantly clear in the enthusiasm for which he tells his stories, facts, and recollections of the game's most pivotal moments.

"99: Stories Of The Game" is a shining achievement in both hockey history and literature in general.

Equal parts hockey history book and love letter to the game, fans new and old will enjoy. ...more

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