The Making of The Mighty Ducks

Twenty-five years ago, in October 1992, The Mighty Ducks flew into movie theaters and changed hockey forever. The film hatched two sequels and had an NHL team named after it, all in a five-year span. Terms from The Mighty Ducks like the “Flying V” and the “Triple Deke” became part of hockey’s cultural lexicon. A few years before all of that happened, though, it was just an idea, flapping around the mind of an unemployed screenwriter.

It is the late 1980s. Steven Brill started working on his script for a hockey movie. He combined his memories of playing hockey as a child, his renewed interest in the game after Wayne Gretzky was traded to the Los Angeles Kings, and his love for the film The Bad News Bears.

Steven Brill, writer (and movie cameo as ‘Frank Huddy’): I played peewee hockey as a little kid, on one of the worst teams ever, and it was just a horrible experience to be horrible at a game that I didn’t know how to play. We had a mean coach, but I loved being part of a team. It was something that always stuck with me. My passion for hockey and memories of my youth made me always want to revisit the sport.

Read the full article at The Hockey News

Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk

Movie Review: Kings Ransom

August 9, 1988 was arguably the single most important day in hockey history. On that day, the biggest trade in professional sports took place when the Edmonton Oilers traded Wayne Gretzky to the Los Angeles Kings. Here, the best player in his sport was traded at the height of his career. Gretzky’s trade changed hockey forever. “Kings Ransom,” an ESPN documentary directed by Peter Berg, recounts that fateful day and the events that led up to it. 

Unfortunately, “Kings Ransom,” released in 2009, is not the documentary that I hoped for. It tries so hard to be dramatic and doesn’t say anything that hasn’t already been said. 

Continue reading “Movie Review: Kings Ransom”

Movie Review: Thin Ice

Documentary shows that hockey can bridge religious and gender gaps

Thin Ice takes place as far away from organized hockey as you can imagine. In the northern region of India, just south of the Himalaya mountains, a young woman named Dolkar loves to play ice hockey. She dreams of competing in India’s annual National Ice Hockey Tournament, which is only open to males. But she will not be deterred. 

Continue reading “Movie Review: Thin Ice”

How to Build a Slap Shot Card Collection

Slap Shot came out 40 years ago and has endured as the greatest hockey movie of all time. However, there was never a set of Slap Shot cards to collect. 

But as you probably know, some of the characters in the film were actually hockey players and did have cards made. Even better, some of the more recent cards are autographed and aren’t too difficult to track down, meaning that you can build a pretty impressive Slap Shot-themed collection. 

If you are so inclined to “foil up” your collection a bit, here’s a list of cards to look for.  

Continue reading “How to Build a Slap Shot Card Collection”

The First Time I Watched Slap Shot

Last night, the NHL Network televised the film Slap Shot in celebration of its 40th anniversary. I probably lost count of how many times I have seen this film. However, I have never forgotten the very first time that I saw Slap Shot.

Because people tend to be a bit older when they first see Slap Shot — due to it being Rated-R — they remember when, where and who they were with. 

Slap Shot wasn’t a movie that you randomly caught on TV one night. Either your friends made you watch it, or you sought it out on your own. 

The first time I saw Slap Shot, it was under a bit of unusual circumstances. In fact, it was a perfect storm that I actually got to see the movie that night, as I saw it at the house of two teammates who had a mother who didn’t let her kids watch anything cool.  Continue reading “The First Time I Watched Slap Shot”

Making of “Youngblood” article on THN

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Earlier this month, The Hockey News published an article that I worked diligently on writing: “Blood, Guts & Glory – The Making of Youngblood: An Oral History.” For those who subscribe to the magazine, it is in the current issue. However, THN also put my “Youngblood” article on their website for everyone to read.

For those who don’t know, “Youngblood” is a hockey movie that came out in 1986. The film starred Rob Lowe as an aspiring hockey player from the U.S. who joins a junior team in Hamilton, Ontario. The film co-stars Patrick Swayze (who sadly passed away in 2009) as the Mustangs’ team captain.

While Lowe, through his agent, refused to talk with me about “Youngblood,” I still spoke with many awesome sources: director and writer Peter Markle, cinematographer Mark Irwin, hockey coordinator Eric Nesterenko (a veteran of 20 NHL seasons) and former OHL player George Finn, who played the bad guy. I also interviewed a stunt double and two background hockey players, including Steve Thomas.

You can read the article at The Hockey News’ website here

Movie Review: The Wrath of Grapes: The Don Cherry Story II

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Apparently, I wasn’t the only person who enjoyed Keep Your Head Up, Kid: The Don Cherry Story, a television miniseries that first aired on CBC in 2010. Two years later, the Don of Hockey was the subject of a second three-hour miniseries, The Wrath of Grapes: The Don Cherry Story II — a great title for a great follow-up.

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Movie Review: Keep Your Head Up, Kid: The Don Cherry Story

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Last night, I spent three hours binge-watching Keep Your Head Up, Kid: The Don Cherry Story. The plan was to watch half of the miniseries one night before bed, and the other part the next night, but it was so much fun that my girlfriend and I decided to watch it in one sitting — bedtimes be dammed!

The made-for-TV miniseries, which originally aired on CBC in 2010, is about everyone’s favorite — or sometimes least favorite — hockey commentator Don Cherry. The two-part biopic chronicles “Grapes” long minor-league hockey career then gets into his coaching career and eventual tenure on Hockey Night in Canada. It was written by his son, Tim Cherry.

Continue reading “Movie Review: Keep Your Head Up, Kid: The Don Cherry Story”

“Sudden Death” history article for The Hockey News

Twitter_Sudden_DeathHello Puck Junk readers. Sorry that I have not posted too much to this site lately. Truth be told, I’ve been doing some more writing for The Hockey News, and they just published what very well be my magnum opus: The Making of Sudden Death: An Oral History.

For those who don’t know — or vaguely remember — “Sudden Death” was an action film released in 1995, starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. The film took place at the old Pittsburgh Civic Arena, and was set during Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Chicago Blackhawks.

“Sudden Death” featured a lot of Penguins personalities, such as Luc Robitaille, Jay Caufield, Mike Lange and Paul Steigerwald, and I spoke with many of them. I also talked with the director, writer and producer. You can read the article online here. Please take a look and let me know what you think. 

Movie Review: Goon

NOTE: This review is spoiler-free.

I knew all along that Goon was going to be a great movie for two reasons:

1. It had a hard time getting a theatrical release in the United States

2. Everyone who saw it made comparisons to Slap Shot.

You might think that any movie that had trouble finding a mainstream release is a bad movie. And in most cases, you would be right.

But I knew Goon would be great because of that. Hockey is a tough sell in the United States. A hockey movie is even a tougher sell, and yet Goon does not sell-out, pander, cater or kowtow to help reach a wider audience. No dumbing down or awkward, “after the fact” edits to make it more commercial.

After watching Goon, you can tell that director Michael Dowse and screenwriters Jay Baruchel and Evan Goldberg made the picture that they wanted to make: a film that is violent, funny and has a good story. The “Gordie Howe Hat Trick” of hockey movies, one that is truly worthy of Slap Shot comparisons.

Speaking of which, no one would dare compare a bad movie to Slap Shot, except for Universal when releasing a bad Slap Shot sequel. If other fans who have seen both movies say Goon is the Slap Shot for this generation, then Goon must have a lot going for it.

And it does. Continue reading “Movie Review: Goon”