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.
I got into hockey in my teen years, and took some hockey lessons. I befriended two brothers who were close to my age who were also beginners. (Most of the kids in our hockey classes were under 10, so the three of us stood out.) These two brothers — we’ll call them Bob and Bill — were home schooled by their mother. They were also pretty suppressed by their mother, who was a Born-Again Christian and literally thought that most popular media was “part of the devil’s plan to influence” her children — her words, not mine. So Bob and Bill could not read comic books. They could not watch many of the TV shows or movies that other kids our age watched. No Ninja Turtles, but here, have a bible.
Needless to say, these home schooled kids were pretty damn awkward and had difficulty relating to other kids our age, since they lacked everyday interaction with their peers and didn’t consume the same media we did. Still, the three of us got along fine for a year or so — a fight in a house league game ended our friendship, but that’s a story for another day.
So I went to Bob and Bill’s house for a sleepover. I brought some hockey cards to trade and some video games to play. I also asked my mom to rent us this movie I heard others talk about called Slap Shot. Who were these Hanson Brothers that everyone liked so much? I was obsessed with everything hockey and really wanted to see this film. We stopped at Blockbuster Video and my mom rented it for me to bring to my friends’ house.
Now, you are probably thinking, why would someone rent an R-Rated movie for their kid? There’s nudity! And swearing! And violence! But I think my mom was OK with me seeing all that. I was 15, not 5, and she was probably glad that I didn’t want to see something gruesome like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Plus, my mom was cool; the total opposite of Bob and Bill’s mom.
Also, I had no idea that Slap Shot was R-Rated. Had I known, I probably wouldn’t have asked, figuring that the answer would be no. All I knew about Slap Shot was that it was a comedy about hockey starring the guy who had his own line of salad dressings.
The original plan was for everyone to watch Slap Shot: me, Bill, Bob and their mother and father, who hadn’t seen this movie either. THAT would have been a friendship-ending disaster of epic proportions; one that probably would have had me banned from their house. Fortunately, things didn’t play out that way.
Instead, after dinner, I got into a long discussion with my friends’ mother, while the two of them sneaked off to play Legend of Zelda (which their mom totally would not approve of.) Our conversation was about religion and evolution. Or more specifically, she was trying to convince me that evolution was a lie and that religion was our path to salvation. I was interested to hear — but not adopt — her view because I went to a Catholic grammar school for five years.
Now it is late, so Bill and Bob’s parents go to bed. That leaves three teenage boys up to our own devices, so of course we watch Slap Shot because no one goes to bed at a decent time during a sleepover.
Early on, when the Charlestown Chiefs are forced to be models in a fashion show, I could tell that this movie was no Ghostbusters. We all laughed pretty hard when Johnny Upton voiced his displeasure in participating, and then made good on his promise moments later.
And then there’s the “post-sex” scene where Reggie Dunlop lies in bed with Suzanne; probably the first time Bill and Bob saw nipples that weren’t their own.
“Normally, our mom would fast forward through these parts,” Bill said.
“Well, let’s not wake her up, then,” I replied, turning the TV’s volume way down so that no adults would hear what we were watching.
Naturally, the three of us enjoyed the hockey and hockey fight action, the swearing, and all the sophomoric humor. The Hanson Brothers’ debut game had us all rolling with laughter, as did the part when the Hansons climb into the stands to fight the audience. And I still recall Bob giggling like a girl when the Chiefs moon their opponents’ fans.
During breakfast the next morning, Bill and Bob’s mother asked us if we watched “that hockey movie” and if we liked it.
“Yeah…it was all right,” I said. My two fiends smiled and nodded in their agreement.
I can’t remember what hockey cards I traded, or if we had pizza for dinner, or anything else we did. What I do remember is that it was the first time that I saw Slap Shot — and it was awesome.
Did you make it to the end of this article? You are awesome too! Please share your own memory of the first time you saw Slap Shot.
Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk. ■