The 40th anniversary of the iconic movie “Slap Shot” will be celebrated on Feb. 25 in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Steve Carlson, Jeff Carlson and Dave Hanson, better known as the Hanson brothers, will host the “Boys are Back in Town” celebration on the original site of the film. Many consider the movie, which starred Paul Newman, as one of the greatest sports films of all-time. Which got me thinking of other top hockey films. Here’s my top 5:
1. Slap Shot: This movie’s impact on the hockey world spans generations, ever since its release, in 1977. Professional hockey players, amateur players and fans alike can recite lines from the film with relative ease. The Hanson brothers are hockey celebrities. Attend any hockey game and no doubt you’ll find a fan sporting a Chiefs jersey. The storyline and scenes are a classic combination of old-school hockey. It’s too vulgar for young hockey fans, but they all anticipate one day being able to watch the cult classic.
2. Miracle: This movie has the ability to motivate. The underdog story of the 1980 U.S. Olympic men’s hockey team is so authentic, you think you’re watching a documentary. Actor Kurt Russell portrays American coach Herb Brooks with a stunning performance. I remember watching the premiere of the movie in Boston and a few members of the U.S. gold-medal team. Afterward, players were nearly in tears and admitted the movie was close to reality. The miracle victory over the Russians in the semifinals is considered one of the greatest upsets in sports and it was captured perfectly on the big screen.
3. Mystery, Alaska: Any movie with Russell Crowe and Burt Reynolds is going to entertain. While the storyline of the New York Rangers traveling to Alaska to play a local team is a bit of a stretch, there are still some funny hockey scenes and the chemistry among the players from Mystery is believable. It’s a fun film to watch, and like “Slap Shot” there are a few classic lines that real hockey players still recite.
4. Goon: I know this storyline first-hand and enjoyed the movie. The real-life story of Doug Smith was portrayed by actor Sean Williams Scott as the hockey goon, Doug Glatt. In real life, after Smith’s hockey career was over, he became the fighting coach for the Boston Bruins. The pro game is changing and there’s less fighting today, but there’s no denying fans’ excitment when two heavyweights drop the gloves. The movie has plenty of that and Glatt’s character is a lovable but tough guy.
5. The Mighty Ducks: Who didn’t love the character of young Charlie Conway, played by actor Joshua Jackson? The film was released by Disney in 1992 and quickly became a hockey favorite. Actor Emilio Estevez plays Gordon Bombay, a big-time lawyer who is arrested for drunk driving and must coach a hockey team of misfit kids for his community service. Kids still today love to try to shoot the knuckle puck and there are plenty of lines from the movie that never get old.