Slap Shot (1977)

As I write this (April 3rd), the NHL regular season is just winding down and the best time to be a hockey fan is just around the corner: the NHL playoffs.  The best professional sport in the world, the most prestigious of all trophies, the war of attrition and beards, all those men playing for 16 wins, to be able to be a member of a Stanley Cup Championship team.  My hometown team, the Calgary Flames, have made it to the Finals three times since 1980, only winning once.  In 32 years, only once.  Out of the 30 teams in the NHL, 13 of them have never won the Cup, six of them have never even been to the Finals.  Sure, there are teams that have won it so much that it’s almost embarrassing to the rest of the league (the Montreal Canadiens, Detroit Red Wings and I guess you could put the Toronto Maple Leafs in there, but who remembers the last time they won one (1967!)), but that’s mostly from being Original Six teams.

For me, no other sport comes close, and I just don’t even bother watching them.  Baseball, football, basketball, all boring to me.  Don’t even get me started on faux sports like racing or golf.  If Kevin Costner can wax nostalgic about a curve ball or whatever in Bull Durham, then surely there must be a movie that explains exactly how the millions of passionate hockey fans feel.  35 years later, the movie Slap Shot is still the most definitive film treatment of professional hockey, and that’s something that will probably never change.  I haven’t watched Goon yet, but I highly doubt that it will even come close to being worthy of holding Slap Shot‘s jock.

The thing is, the hockey era that is represented by Slap Shot is long gone.  Sure, there may be plenty of similar aspects to it in the minor pro hockey leagues, but the game is so much more corporate nowadays.  It’s a relic from a bygone era, but one of the most entertaining movies from that time period.  Hell, I’d pick Slap Shot over Star Wars any day of the week.  Despite the over-the-top comedic nature of the movie, so much of it still rings true.  It’s no surprise to me that it was the late Paul Newman’s favourite film of his own.  I always feel bad that the day after I bought the DVD of Slap Shot, Paul Newman died.  Totally paranoid, but I felt responsible.

No matter how many articles are written about it, there will never be enough great things said about this movie.  I’ve decided that I need to make it a yearly tradition to watch the movie right before the NHL playoffs begin, to reinvigorate me for the two months of war on the calendar.  Slap Shot isn’t just the best hockey movie ever, it’s the best sports movie ever.

5 / 5

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About SkoochXC
Long-time blogger, Canadian, cine-snark-aphile, Tweeter and generally lonely hearted guy.

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