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Andrew Conte's Breakaway: The Inside Story of the Pittsburgh Penguins' Rebirth arrived in my house as part of a hockey-themed gift from [livejournal.com profile] lakeeffectgirl. I read the first two chapters, and then it lingered by the couch waiting for me to get back to it. One afternoon, I decided I was going to read at least one more chapter. A couple of hours later, I'd finished the whole thing. (It helps that chapter three is about Sidney Crosby, and you know I'm fond of him.)

Parts of the book cover players - Sid, Geno, Marian Hossa - and Conte gives time to Ray Shero changing the culture of the team to one that does its best to provide comforts to both players and their families, but the central story is about how the Penguins got Consol Energy Center. The path to a new arena is mostly politics and financing, and yet Conte makes it absolutely riveting. I knew that the Penguins stayed in Pittsburgh and got a new arena, although I didn't know all the details, and I was still in suspense for the last couple of chapters wondering what would happen.

Of course, the questionable thing about my reading this book is that I was reading it the day before the last Pens-Flyers game and I was worried that I might be overcome with Pens feelings and unable to properly cheer for the Flyers. But then, at the very end of the book, the Flyers appeared. The book ends with the first game played at Consol, which was a game against the Flyers:

Moments later, Lemieux and Bettman walked across a red carpet toward center ice. Burkle was supposed to be with them, but his plane had been delayed. They dropped the puck for a ceremonial faceoff between Crosby and Mike Richards, captain of the Philadelphia Flyers, the first opponents to play in the arena.

...

As the game started, Crosby won the first faceoff, passing the puck to defenseman Brooks Orpik. Fans had little to cheer about after that, with the home team missing opportunities and the Flyers' Danny Briere scoring the Consol Energy Center's first goal at 2:51 in the second period. The Flyers went on to win 3 to 2.

On a not about the content note, I really like the physical aspects of the book. It has a dust jacket with pretty color photos, but the under the dust jacket is a book with the binding, paper, smell, and questionable book design of an academic work.

If you're interested in the Penguins, hockey history, Pennsylvania politics, or accounts of political deal making, I highly recommend the book.
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Ruth Sadelle Alderson

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