THE Free Press is pairing with Penguin Books to publish a commemorative book that will mark Winnipeg's historic re-entry into the National Hockey League.
Back in the Bigs: How Winnipeg Won, Lost and Regained its Place in the NHL, will be written by award-winning sports writer Randy Turner, and is due out in September.
"We want to tell the story by bringing the past to life... not just archives, but dozens of interviews with major players, on and off the ice," Turner said. "There is a direct link to the Jets' early years, which explains why NHL hockey left, but the passion never did -- even for all those 20-somethings celebrating in the streets who barely saw the team play."
The book will track the history of pro hockey in Winnipeg, from the wild days of the World Hockey Association to the Winnipeg Jets's entry into the NHL in 1979; and from the heartbreaking loss of the franchise in 1996 to its triumphant return in 2011.
Back in the Bigs is the Free Press's seventh book, but its first to be sold in bookstores coast to coast, thanks to a new partnership with one of the country's best-known publishers, Penguin Canada.
"There is huge interest in Winnipeg for the return to the NHL, and across Canada and across the league for that matter," Free Press publisher Bob Cox said. "It is great that Penguin is our national partner in this."
The saga has all the elements of a true epic, Cox said.
"This really would make a good movie. Back in the Bigs is a story about community loss and redemption. It has love. It has heartbreak. It has drama. What more do you need?"
Back in the Bigs will also feature some never-before-seen historic photos from the Free Press archives.
"This is the biggest story in hockey this year, and Penguin is thrilled to be part of it. The return of NHL hockey to Winnipeg is a triumph that a whole city, even the whole country can celebrate," said Nick Garrison, executive editor of Penguin Canada.
Free Press editor Margo Goodhand said the project has already exceeded expectations.
"It's an extraordinary story, and Randy tells it better than anybody," she said.
Only pre-orders are being accepted at this point. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to be advised at a later date of the price, shipping information and the date of arrival of the book.