April 6, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 98  

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SPORTS

Once upon a time... Slap Shot

By Ian Denomme
Gazette Staff

It’s hard to believe a movie about hockey, made by Americans and written by a woman, would become one of the greatest sports movies of all time.

Slap Shot tells the story of a minor league hockey team playing in an American league known as the Federal League. In an effort to sell the team, the owner brings in three new players to create an entertaining product.

What makes Slap Shot a memorable cult classic is the characters, the profanity and the hilarity that ensues from situations that may or may not be a representation of what really goes on in the minor league ranks.

The movie also proves “violence” in hockey can be funny. The Hanson brothers became, and still are, icons based soly on their goonish antics in Slap Shot. Aside from the Hansons, there were a number of other memorable characters.

The team, the Charlestown Chiefs, has a number of off-the-wall characters. Player-coach Reggie Dunlop (Paul Newman) is the over-the-hill leader of the bunch, who motivates his players by placing bounties on opposing players. Dave ‘Killer’ Carlson becomes the team’s unsuccessful goon. French-Canadian goalie Denis is remembered most for his explanations of penalties and demonstrations on broadcaster Jim Carr. Ned Braden is the talented, sensible one who is having troubles at home.

Gazette File Photo
YA THINK BETTMAN WOULD WANT THESE GUYS IN TODAY’S NHL? How could anyone forget this loveable trio, known for such incidents as taping their knuckles in tin foil and singing hardy rounds of Kumbaya.

The plot centres around the exploits of the Chiefs and their dismal season. However, when the Hansons come along, the team’s attitude changes. They begin relying on their force and brutality and start winning games — not unlike many other hockey teams of the 1970s. The team is also motivated by the rumour that the team will be sold and moved to a hockey- loving community full of retired Canadians in Florida if their season goes well.

Aside from the hockey in the movie, Slap Shot has all the usual elements of any movie. There are relationship problems and other obstacles the team is forced to deal with. But that is not what makes the movie so memorable.

It’s the humorous violence, and even the quality of the on-ice scenes. Unlike in some hockey movies where players score from the red-line or stop to take a slap-shot on a breakaway, Slap Shot’s on ice hockey scenes are well done.

The goonish antics of the team, especially the Hansons, are classic. Whether it’s “putting on the foil,” slapping every head on the bench on the way by or going after someone in the crowd, the Hansons did things — and got away with things — that every other hockey player only dreams about.

 

 

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