The announcement came down today with the ferocity of a hammer. No hockey for the immediate future, possibly several weeks.
Now, the first reaction is pure sadness. The St. Louis Blues just polished off a 3-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks last night, positioning themselves for a great finish with just 11 games left. Now, we could be facing playoff hockey with no one in the stands. Possibly, no playoff hockey for quite some time.
With that, you turn to the one thing that didn’t go anywhere: the movies. I am talking about past movies, not the upcoming sequel to John Krasinski’s “A Quiet Place,” which just got bumped back. The movies that have came, went, and landed on Blu Ray or DVD. Perhaps the old cassette tape you nearly forgot about.
Since I can’t write about the next game or what the team could be doing, I am going to hand you some hockey movies to devour.
Now, let’s get this disclaimer out of the way first. The best hockey movie for a St. Louis Blues fan is easily a 16-part miniseries called the 2018-19 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Drop the mic, pick it back up, and toss it somewhere. Watch that over again, because if the season does get delayed a significant amount, the Blues will remain Stanley Cup champs.
After you’re done with that, here are five movies to check out. These are MY favorite hockey movies, not yours. If you don’t agree, climb on the nearest hill and scream until your voice disappears. It’s okay to like something another person doesn’t. It’s called America, land of the just about free.
5) Mystery Alaska
I don’t think a single actor in this cast could truly play hockey. Russell Crowe is about as graceful on skates as a one legged man, but he’s a great actor. The same can be said for Kevin Durand, Ron Eldard, Scott Grimes, and so on. You basically had a cast of television doctor actors carrying the puck up ice. But you also had the late Burt Reynolds as a local Judge and Hank Azaria as a journalist. The under-appreciated Colm Meaney and the luscious Lolita Davidovich. One critic called it a grown-up “Mighty Ducks.” I concur.
Gavin O’Connor is well known for getting the best out of Ben Affleck (“The Accountant” and “The Way Back”), but he also made a great hockey movie. Kurt Russell playing Herb Brooks in arguably the most inspirational American hockey stories of all time. The United States taking down the superior in just about every way Russian team in the Olympics. It’s Russell’s second best role behind Wyatt Earp. He digs into the role, nailing the ferocious nature of the coach. The film doesn’t dip into melodramatic waters and sticks to the tough love aspect of true hockey coaching. And the end is so powerful yet restrained. Watch it. Again.
This film makes me miss Paul Newman. Seriously. He owned this role and made this movie what it was. The team captain of a hockey team who sees the window closing on his team’s future, so he has his team resort to the old time ways of hockey. Blood, punches, and busted bones. There’s no other hockey movie like it out there. Newman could really do it all and even holds his own on the rink.
2) Ice Guardians
I get emotional just thinking about Kelly Chase signing off at the end of the film. He was asked about what he’d do differently, and Chase’s response could make you run through a wall. “With a little more fire!” Director Brett Harvey and producer Adam Scorgie delivered the most blunt and powerful perspective of enforcers in the NHL by holding back zero punches. Chase, Brett Hull, Dave Semenko (who has since passed away since the 2016 release), Scott Parker, Dave Schultz, and many more offered their takes. Hull said he wouldn’t have the career he did without Tony Twist and Chase watching his back. I watched this documentary with many of those aforementioned players. You could feel the emotion swirling through the room. Enforcers get a bad rap in the general population, and this film enlightened so many about the importance and rigors of the job. Go watch it.
I take flack for loving Michael Dowse’s movie, but I don’t give a shit. This film was a complete slice of CINEMATIC heaven. Based on Doug Smith (whom I interviewed for this site) and his underdog story of becoming a fighter for a minor league hockey team, the film stars Seann William Scott and Liev Schreiber as rival “goons,” aka enforcers who spend more time in the box than they do on the ice. Schreiber’s Ross Rhea is easily a legendary hockey character, and the actor paid tribute to the late Bob Probert by having Rhea tape his fingers before shooting. It’s comic book hockey at its finest, living in the world of “Slapshot,” but with more craziness and zeal. Don’t take it too seriously. That’s not the intent here.
There’s more. There’s always more to say but for now, I’ll leave it with those five flicks. Check them out. All of them offer something unique and will fill your hockey heart with love. and endearment.