Once upon a time...
By Ian Denomme
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
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.