Interview: Jeremy Roenick on NHL ’94

NOTE: This interview with Jeremy Roenick was originally published in the October 2013 issue of Beckett Hockey Magazine. Because very few of you probably saw it, and it was five years ago, I am reprinting it here, just in time for the 25th Anniversary of NHL ’94. 

Jeremy Roenick electrified crowds during his 20 seasons in the NHL with his hard-nosed, high-scoring style of play. He reached the 50-goal plateau three times and was the third American-born player to score over 500 career goals. When he retired in 2009, Roenick scored  513 goals and 703 assists in 1363 games. A year later, he was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, and is currently a studio analyst for NHL games broadcast on NBC.

Yet, to a generation of hockey fans, Roenick is perhaps better known as being one of the best-ever video game characters to grace a TV screen. NHL ’94, released in fall of 1993 and currently celebrating its 20th anniversary, is considered the best video game from the classic gaming era. In the game, which used the names and attributes of real NHL players, Roenick was nearly unstoppable. His great speed and agility, along with one of the hardest and most accurate shots, make J.R. the biggest offensive threat in NHL ’94.

In the Genesis version of the game, a programming mistake — known as the “weight bug” — made lightweight players actually more difficult to knock down while also making them hit harder. This resulted in Roenick being a total wrecking ball in NHL ’94, with a better mix of offensive skills than Mario Lemieux or Wayne Gretzky.

Movie-goers would also learn about Roenick in the 1996 film Swingers, starring Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau. In a memorable scene, the  characters are playing NHL ’94 (although the cutaway shots of the game are actually from Electronic Arts’ previous hockey game, NHLPA Hockey ’93). When accused of playing unfairly, Vaughn’s character Trent replies “Y’know, it’s not so much me as Roenick; he’s good.” This cemented Roenick’s status as a pop culture icon and a video game legend.

Recently, Roenick talked with Beckett Hockey about his video game notoriety, games he played growing up, and what it’s like to be a cover athlete.

Sal Barry: The video game NHL ’94 celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. I’m sure you remember that game.

Jeremy Roenick: I do. Very, very well. The NHL ’94 game is the one topic that is mentioned to me most often to me in my lifetime. Continue reading “Interview: Jeremy Roenick on NHL ’94”

Movie Review: Ahockalypse

There are bad movies. There are movies so bad that they are good. And then there are movies that are so bad you want to turn it off because you’re embarrassed to be watching it. Ahockalypse falls into that last category. Ostensibly, the film is about a hockey team that fights off a zombie horde. Ultimately, though, neither of those things seem to take center stage throughout much of the movie.

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Book Review: Hockey Card Stories 2

If you enjoyed the 2014 book “Hockey Card Stories,” then you will absolutely love the sequel, “Hockey Card Stories 2.” Author Ken Reid asks another 59 hockey players about what they think about one of their old trading cards. 

Right away, the book starts off with a hit: Bob McGill’s 1991-92 Upper Deck hockey card. Continue reading “Book Review: Hockey Card Stories 2”

Book Review: Cap in Hand

You might think a book about the salary cap would as exciting as watching the ice freeze before an outdoor hockey game — and you would be wrong. “Cap in Hand: How Salary Caps are Killing Pro Sports and Why the Free Market Could Save Them” is a new book by Bruce Dowgiggin that expertly explains why salary caps and the promise of parity are killing sports in North America.

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Book Review: Game Change

“Game Change: The Life and Death of Steve Montador and the Future of Hockey”  is the latest treatise by Ken Dryden, and a difficult book to categorize. 

As the title implies, the book tells the story of former NHL defenseman Steve Montador, who died at 35 — but “Game Change” isn’t a traditional biography.

It explains how concussions and traumatic head injuries affect the brain, body and mind — but “Game Change” isn’t a scientific journal entry. 

It also recounts how the NHL, over the past century, has reached its current level of violence and physicality — but “Game Change” isn’t a history book. 

“Game Change” is more than the sum of its parts, and like its name implies, it may very well change the sport of hockey. Dryden, the former Montreal Canadiens goaltender and six-time Stanley Cup-winner, has written several other hockey books. “The Game,” Dryden’s seminal work, is widely-considered to be the best hockey book ever written. “Game Change” may became the most important hockey book ever written, as it thoroughly discusses hockey’s concussion problem — illustrating it with Montador’s biography — and how to fix it. 

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Book Review: A Century of NHL Memories

“A Century of NHL Memories: Rare Photos from the Hockey Hall of Fame” is a hardcover, high-quality book that looks at the National Hockey League over the past 100 years. Well, mostly. There are no pictures from the league’s first nine years, and the book is scant on photos prior to 1940, so calling it a “century” of memories might be stretching it a bit. But what this book does offer is a look at many great hockey photographs — some iconic and memorable, and some that have never been published before — from the Hockey Hall of Fame’s expansive archives. 

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Record: The Chemistry was Just Right!

The story of the 1979-80 New York Islanders

“Dynasty” is a word that’s been tossed around in the hockey world a lot in the last decade. What does it take for a team to be a dynasty in the NHL today? Two Championships in three years like the L.A. Kings? Three Cups in six years like the Blackhawks? Two in back-to-back seasons like the Penguins? The fact that you can’t spell “dynasty” without “nasty” like the Bruins? 

While we ponder this, it’s impossible to deny teams like the Oilers’ winning five Cups in seven years, and the Islanders gobbling up four in a row in the 1980s were clearly dynasties. When the Islanders won their first of four straight Stanley Cup Championships, did they know they were on the precipice of greatness? I guess it’s easy to look back and think they may have had an idea that something special was just beginning to brew, but every team that lifts the Cup probably thinks they’re going to repeat the feat next year.

When recently digging through a local record shop, I came across this “audio yearbook” from 1980 celebrating the New York Islanders first Stanley Cup Championship.  Continue reading “Record: The Chemistry was Just Right!”

“The Penalty Box” by Dave Schultz

Dave “The Hammer” Schultz was many things during his hockey career: a Stanley Cup Champion, a Philadelphia Flyers legend and a member of the “Broad Street Bullies” of the 1970s. No one would ever mistake him for the King of Pop or the Thin White Duke. Nevertheless, in 1975, Schultz released a 7-inch double-sided record called, appropriately enough, “The Penalty Box.”

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Book Review: Behind the Bench

What is it like to be an NHL coach during the biggest game of his life? What was going through Mike Babcock’s mind when the Gold Medal Game in the 2010 Winter Olympics went into overtime? What game-changing decisions did Ken Hitchcock make in Game Six of the 1999 Stanley Cup Finals to help the Dallas Stars clinch the Cup? What tactics do coaches like Joel Quenneville, Dan Bylsma and John Tortorella use to motivate their players? 

Craig Custance, formerly with ESPN and currently with The Athletic, finds all this out in his new book “Behind the Bench: Inside the Minds of Hockey’s Greatest Coaches.” He gets to know today’s best NHL coaches, how they got to where they are, and what they do to succeed. 

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50 in ’07: Dany Heatley’s Online Legacy

Former NHL All-Star Dany Heatley as a member of the Ottawa Senators.

Note: Blake Isaacs is a new writer for Puck Junk. Please welcome him with a comment below. 

On my twentieth birthday, I received an Anaheim Ducks t-shirt jersey with the name Heatley on the back. To clarify, I am not and have never been a supporter of the Anaheim Ducks (but I do love the Mighty Ducks movies).  Why would I be gifted an Anaheim Ducks, Heatley t-shirt — especially since Heatley played six games with Anaheim and then was sent down to the minors, never to return to the NHL. Why would I want a Dany Heatley Anaheim Ducks t-shirt? Because of @DanyAllstar15, that’s why.

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