Bolt Sports guide to Hockey Movies – in alphabetical order
Scott Murray is the player-coach-GM of Thailand's fabled expat hockey squad, the Flying Farangs. He is also the Vice President of the Siam Hockey League and a lifelong hockey fan and aficionado, remembering attending original six games at Maple Leaf Gardens.
Goon (plus Goon: Last of the Enforcers) – The type of movie that hockey purists hate as it glorifies the violence that many non-hockey fans associate with the game. But perhaps this is was the swan soon to goonism as the speed and finness of the new NHL has forced many NHL enforcers out of work. Sean William Scott is the primary culprit here as “Doug the Thug” making his living beating people up. Lots of laughs, but not a great representation of the game.
Miracle – Probably the best hockey movie of all time, as it transcends the sport and is as liked as much by non-hockey fans as it is by devotees of the sport. The Herb Brooks-led 1980 Olympic team’s victory over the vaunted Soviet squad united a despondent nation frustrated by the Iran hostage situation, high gas prices and many other issues. Ironically, one of the players that Brooks was scouting when he had his tragic vehicle accident was Kurt Russell’s son, Wyatt, a goalie. Russell went on to play Brooks, who was involved in some of the pre-production but never saw the final version of the film (it was later determined that if Brooks had been wearing his seatbelt, there’s a good chance he would have survived & not been thrown from the mini-van).. Billy Schneider plays his dad Buzz in the film and Michael Mantenuto, who so brilliantly played Jack O’Callahan, ended up joining the Special Forces, fighting ISIS in the Middle East, suffering from PTSD on his return home and tragically taking his own life.
Mystery, Alaska – Russell Crowe & Burt Reynolds are some of the Hollywood celebs that star in this film. It’s about a small amateur team in fictional Mystery, Alaska, who get a chance to play the New York Rangers in an exhibition game in their hometown. The game is arranged by local Hank Azaria who wrote a story about the town’s winter weekend games for Sports Illustrated, where locals play on an open pond, and everyone comes out to watch. The cinematography is fabulous as part of the movie was filmed in Banff National Park. Features Mike Meyers doing a take-off of famous hockey analyst, Don Cherry.
Slapshot (trilogy) – The most watched hockey movie of all time, there’s not a die-hard fan out here that hasn’t seen the story of the Charlestown Chiefs. Paul Newman was brilliant as player-coach Reg Dunlap and should have received a best actor nomination for his performance. Thousands of player-coaches have been nicknamed “Reg” in his honour over the years. The Hanson Brothers are still living off the hilarious reputation they created in the film decades later.
The Mighty Ducks (trilogy) – Emilio Estevez as Gordon Bombay leads a rag-tag bunch of kids to believe in themselves in a film that probably sparked more interest in hockey in places where hockey was not widely known. Bombay sentenced to community service as a hockey coach turns this perennially losing peewee Twin-Cities based team into a contender. The NHL team Anaheim broke into the NHL as the Mighty Ducks, when they were originally owned by Disney.
The Rocket – A film on the life of legendary Canadian Maurice “Rocket” Richard, whose 1955 playoff suspension by then NHL President Clarence Campbell led to rioting in the streets of Montreal. Many NHL players appear in the film including Vinny LaCavalier playing Jean Beliveau; Mike Ricci playing Elmer Lach; Ian Laperriere appearing as Boom Boom Geoffrion; Sean Avery as Bob Dill; Pascal Dupuis appearing as Milt Schmidt; and Stephane Quintal as Dollard St. Laurent. Ironically, Richard, who was the NHL superstar at the time, had to work a day job as a machinist because the NHL didn’t pay enough for him to live on his hockey wages.
Youngblood – A showcase for teenage heartthrob Rob Lowe at the time, the film tells the tale of a young American lad trying to break into the lineup of a talented Canadian junior team. He’s got the talent, but needs to get tougher. Patrick Swayze is his mentor on the team. The film features future NHLers Peter Zezel and Steve Thomas and was filmed at Toronto’s fabled St Mike’s Arena. It's Keanu Reeves first film as he stars as the goalie – which he is in real life, having spent part of his life growing up in Canada learning the game.
Other hockey films of note include: Face Off, Gross Misconduct (the Brian Spencer story), Ice Guardians, Indian Horse, Les Boys, MVP - Most Valuable Primate, Pond Hockey, The Deadliest Season & The Last Gladiators.