Three veteran sportswriters alternately review the various aspects of ice hockey, its star players, and its supporting forces (owners, coaches, superfans)--with lots of photos as backup. Ronberg provides an informative capsule history of the National Hockey League--covering not only the talent-diluting, post-1967 expansion of what was once a six-team, localized circuit, but also such lore as the elevation of the Stanley Cup to, arguably, professional sports' most cherished trophy. Orr contributes an appreciation of the finer points: the growing influence of the European style of play, for instance, which emphasizes skating speed and finesse, over the bullyboy tactics still employed by many NHL clubs. Ronberg returns with accounts of great contests--and, concurrently, great contenders: Maurice Richard, Jacques Plante, Bobby Orr, Gordon Berenson, Phil Esposito, Gordie Howe. Greenberg weighs in with a rundown on NHL arenas and some grand old on-the-site yarns. And, pooling their expertise, the three conjure up a ""dream team"" of still-active players: for successful shooting, Mike Bossy; for leadership, Bobby Clarke; for offensive-minded defense, Denis Potvin; as goalkeeper, Tony Esposito; and so on. Also to be included will be an interesting comparison: the results of a poll of NHL players to pick the best among their peers. A winning combination for hockey buffs and not a bad choice for curious tyros.