The Hall of Fame story of Grant Fuhr, the first black superstar in the National Hockey League and the last line of defense for the Edmonton Oilers dynasty, told through Fuhr's 10 most important games.
Grant Fuhr was the best goalie in the league at a time when hockey was at its most exciting. Wayne Gretzky's Edmonton Oilers were arguably the greatest team in league history, and during the 1980s arguably the most popular team across the United States, even if many had little idea where Edmonton was. They were that good. And so was Fuhr: Gretzky called him the best goaltender in the world.
Fuhr broke the colour barrier for NHL goaltenders when he played his first game for the Oilers in 1981, and was an inspiration for later players including future Hall of Famer Jarome Iginla. But in addition to their dynastic run of Stanley Cup championships, the Oilers were also synonymous with the excesses of the decade: Fuhr himself was suspended for substance use, a discredit he had to fight back from--and did, going on to set career records and earning election to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.
Known as "the best money goalie in hockey" where the "bigger the game, the better Grant got," the highs of Fuhr's career five Stanley Cups, Canada Cup triumphs, Hall of Fame induction are recapped in detail in his autobiography, but don't look for many personal revelations or soul-searching here. Early on, the reader is warned that Fuhr, the first black star in hockey, is not the most forthcoming. Dowbiggin manages to get him to open up a little in the subsequent pages, so it isn't a complete shutout. An adopted child of mixed race raised in Spruce Grove, Alberta by white parents, Fuhr's story is compelling from the get-go, but he goes out of the way to avoid saying anything remotely controversial, whether it is in regard to race relations or the players, or coaches and management from his 19-year career. Even when his cocaine use and suspension is brought up, Fuhr gives little more than a shrug: "We definitely partied too much." In net, he was calm and rarely rattled; in print, that translates into offering a straightforward recap of his career and a little about his new love of golf, while, perhaps reflexively, protecting the territory of his private life and family.