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Harper’s book on the history of hockey to be published this fall

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his daughter Rachel sit behind NHL commissioner Gary Bettman during the NHL All-Star game in Ottawa, Jan. 29, 2012.

Paul Chiasson/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Stephen Harper's long-anticipated hockey history book will hit the shelves this fall, his publisher has announced.

According to the blurb from Simon & Schuster Canada, the as-yet-untitled work "tells the intriguing, little-known story of the origins of professional hockey, where strong personalities and philosophies battled to define not only how the game would be played on ice, but by whom."

The book is being released in November 2013, just in time for the Christmas shopping season.

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All author royalties from the work will go to Canadian military families, the publisher announced. Proceeds will be funnelled through the Canadian Forces Personnel and Family Support Services to support the Military Families Fund which provides emergency financial assistance.

It's been a long, slow, labour of love for Mr. Harper, a hockey buff who began the book more than eight years ago in 2004 – before he became prime minister.

"Drawing on extensive archival records and illustrations, early hockey histories, and newspaper archives," his publisher says, Mr. Harper has created a "fascinating portrait of hockey at the turn of the twentieth century."

Simon & Schuster calls the work a comprehensive history that will look at the early quests for the Stanley Cup, the rise of professional hockey, and the ascent of Toronto teams and players "that have long been forgotten."

The Prime Minister says he wanted to examine the early days of hockey before it became a national unifying force in Canadian culture.

"Canadians from all walks of life enjoy cheering on the great heroes of our national game, but it wasn't always that way," the prime minister said through his publisher. "The early days of professional hockey featured outsized personalities who fought pitched battles to shape the game we know and love today."

Roy MacGregor, a columnist for The Globe and Mail, helped the prime minister on the book, providing "editorial services," according to Simon & Schuster.

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Toronto lawyer Michael Levine, who brokered the deal to publish the prime minister's book, calls the manuscript a "stunningly impressive" work of hockey scholarship.

"I really thought it was a novelty item when I first was invited to get involved, and as I delved into it I was very impressed by the quality of what he's done – the quality of the research, the quality of the writing and the quality of the meaning that he finds."

The book has yet to be titled because "Stephen has been working so hard on the content," Mr. Levine said. "There were a couple of titles mooted but it was determined it would be wrong at this point [to select one].

"It's really a question of to what degree it's regional and to what degree it's national… In fact it starts as the growth of hockey in Toronto but it's much wider than that. It extends to hockey in Montreal and all over Canada. They're just trying to find a suitable title."

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