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Hockey Strong: Stories of Sacrifice from Inside the NHL by Todd Smith

For the casual enthusiast and hockey fanatic alike comes HOCKEY STRONG, a collection of essays and photographs celebrating the grit and dedication of National Hockey League players to withstand injury and hardship to play the sport they love.

Veteran hockey writer Todd Smith deftly captures the inside stories of superstars old and new, and provides a unique exploration of the long, dangerous, and often arduous journey of an NHL player. Packed with in-depth player interviews, exclusive photographs, and iconic moments, it’s a beautifully designed celebration of one of the toughest sports in the world, and the hearts of the athletes who play it.

“Why do hockey players routinely play in so much pain?”

Todd Smith began every one of his interviews for HOCKEY STRONG with this question. From there, he recalls, “As they talked, the stories behind their injuries were unwrapped, revealing years and memories, which led to more stories, more memories, like Russian nesting dolls.”

Smith gives unprecedented access to the stories behind famous hits, injuries, and fights, while also revealing the human drive and brotherhood that propels such players forward.  Among the many players featured are Kris Draper, Shjon Podein, Dave Brown, Zach Parise, and Chris Nilan.  Smith’s father, Gary “Smitty” Smith, who was the head athletic trainer of the famous 1980 “Miracle on Ice” US hockey team lends insight into an iconic piece of Olympics history.

HOCKEY STRONG gives readers a behind-the-pads look at the playing-in-pain ethos that has been woven into the fabric of the game. What separates a hockey player’s toughness from the other athletes’ is the fact that being hockey strong is more than a single performance or bout or game or series: it is a way of life. 


Todd Smith is a contributing writer for the Minnesota Wild of the NHL Network. His hockey stories have been published in Minnesota HockeyUSA Hockey, and Let’s Play Hockey. Smith studied very little at the University of Montana before becoming a Twin Cities publishing veteran and his work has appeared in The Rake Magazine, Minnesota Monthly, and Twin Cities METRO Magazine where he penned the wildly popular Spazz Dad print column and blog. Smith played high school hockey in the great state of Minnesota and his playing style was once described as, “surly and terrible.”

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