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Weekly Top Ten: Best Hockey Movies Ever

Hanson Brothers
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There was a debate a couple of days ago about whether or not The Mighty Ducks was the greatest hockey movie of all time. While The Mighty Ducks only received a 12% rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes.com, it received a 67% rating from the general public. Does Coach Bombay’s plucky bunch of Pee Wees have enough to make it to the top spot on my top ten list? Read on to find out.

As usual, this list is not negotiable….

10 The Love Guru (14% critics/38% public)-  Let’s be honest, this movie is terrible. You should know, my other choice for the #10 spot was the “on cable every day during my adolescence” immortal movie “The Cutting Edge.” No one wants that.

Justin Timberlake is actually very funny as Jacques Grande, the Los Angeles Kings’ fictional goaltender famous for his large equipment. However, Mike Myers as a Middle Eastern motivational guru sent to help the Kings star player (played by Romany Malco) get over some personal issues?

Point: This movie DID have Jessica Alba.
Counterpoint: Mini-me is supposed to be the head coach of the Los Angeles Kings. Mini me.

9 Sudden Death (52%/39%) – You remember this one, it’s the one where there is a bomb in Civic Arena in Pittsburgh and only Jean Claude Van Damme can stop it? No? You don’t? Well allow me to fill you in.

See, JCVD let a little girl burn to death while working as a firefighter and has not yet mentally recovered from the trauma. Rather than retire from firefighting like any rational person might, he becomes the fire marshal for… the  local hockey arena. As part of his new duties, he works a Stanley Cup Finals game (with his kids, of course).

There are terrorists, and shootings and bombs and what-not but the part that put this movie over the top was the fact that Van Damme SUITED UP AS THE GOALIE AND MADE A SAVE during the third period of the game. This really happened in a modern motion picture:

8 D3: Even Mightier Ducks ft. Scrooge McDuck (20%/50%). The little-remembered and even less revered third installment features the Ducks attending a private high school. Somehow, all of the Ducks were accepted to the school and all made the team. This an example of the Saved By The Bell corollary, which dictates all major characters in a given show or movie must all sign up for the same classes and have the same schedule every day. When I was in high school I was stoked if ONE of my friends made it into a class of mine.

Also, inexplicably, the makers of D3 killed off beloved hockey shop owner Hans! Tell me you didn’t cry during this scene:

7 Mystery, Alaska (38%/64%) This movie has perhaps the most impossible premise of any movie on this list. As a reminder, this list includes little person Verne Troyer playing a National Hockey League coach.

The premise focuses on a small Alaska town that only has a Saturday hockey scrimmage (SCRIMMAGE) to look forward to every week. Russel Crowe plays the elder statesman of these games and his character, John Biebe, is being pressured to retire (again, from a scrimmage) to make room for a new generation of (scrimmaging) players.

The plot thickens when the New York Rangers accept an invitation to fly their entire team to Alaska to SCRIMMAGE against the ragtag Mystery squad. That’s right: The Rangers are willing to risk their season,millions of dollars in salaries, and humiliation in the case of defeat for……what exactly?

The plot was so preposterous that the actual New York Rangers refused to make cameos in the movie.

6 D2: The Mighty Ducks….2 (15%/55%). This movie was a major disappointment to adolescent Dave. I loved the first Ducks movie and had high hopes for part two. In this movie, Iceland is/are the bad guys, and Gordon Bombay acts like a jerk as the coach of Team USA after failing in a stint in minor league hockey.

This time Gordon Bombay is ostracized by his young team for dating a member of the team Iceland coaching staff. As you recall from your history books, Bombay was chastised for formerly being a member of the Hawks in part one.

Two things bother me about this movie: One, coach Bombay completely forgot how to coach this group of kids in the span of one offseason? All the lessons he learned in the first installment literally just went out the window. Two, the kids also forgot the lessons THEY learned in part one and are again willing to jump to conclusions and bash Bombay?

The only awesome part of the movie is the creation of the Bash Brothers, sort of a bantam version of the Hanson brothers.

5 Youngblood (33%/65%) Two words: Rob Lowe. The 80′s heartthrob plays the lead role as Dean Youngblood, a young hockey player making his way through junior hockey. Youngblood can skate and he can score but he is as soft as a pile of kittens.

With the help of his goaltender, played by Keanu Reeves, and the love of his life (who also happens to be the coaches’ daughter), Youngblood learns the meaning of “tough” when he fights the singularly named “Racki” of the rival Thunder Bay squad in the film’s climactic scene. Spoiler Alert: Youngblood wins….and gets the girl. Ladies and gentlemen, the 80′s!

4 Miracle (80%/87%) Admit it, when Kurt Russell was given the role as Herb Brooks, you had doubts. We are talking about the same guy who played Snake in the “Escape From….” movies and Captain Ron in, you guessed it, “Captain Ron.”

However, Russell was excellent in his role as the legendary former St. Cloud State coach and his pregame speech before the pivotal game against the evil Russians in the US Olympics has been imitated time and again since the movie was released:

Obviously, as with any Disney movie , there were some embellishments. But the fact remains there are many goosebump-inducing scenes throughout the film, and Russell’s speech tops them all.

3 Goon (82%/72%) This is the newest movie on the list, and I think as time goes on and I watch “Goon” more and more, this will eventually surpass “The Mighty Ducks” for the #2 spot on the list. The premise is simple: Doug Glatt is a bouncer who is a perpetual disappointment to his family. Doug has a buddy, Pat, who runs a local cable access show that focuses on the “goons” of the local hockey league. One night while attending a minor league hockey game, a player comes into the stands to fight Pat when he is quickly dispatched by Doug with a vicious head-butt.

A coach sees this from the bench and invites Doug to try out for his team the next day. Having never played hockey or ice skated before, he gets taunted by his own teammates during the tryout so he does what any rational goon would do: He pummels them.

From there, Doug rises through the ranks of minor league hockey as a premiere fighter. His final challenge is to fight the aging Ross “the Boss” Rhea.

The movie is comically violent and there is foul language aplenty….kind of like the sport of hockey itself.

2 Mighty Ducks (12%/64%)- Yes, it’s a kids movie. Yes, it’s a Disney movie. Yes, the plot has more holes than a bulletin board BUT this is the second best hockey movie ever made. Adam Banks forced to transfer to the Ducks and being labeled a Cake Eater. The mystical hockey owner Hans inexplicably opening a hockey shop located in the middle of the woods. A drunk former lawyer being trusted with a group of impressionable children. Coach Bombay naming a line featuring two African American forwards and a Caucasian the “Oreo” line (Really coach….REALLY???).

The coach of the rival Hawks (which might as well have just been named “Edina”) with a penchant for popping his collar is played by legendary “that guy” Lane Smith, who is perhaps most famous for being the Pauly Shore-hating dad in “Son In Law.”

The film’s climax features the most unrealistic play in hockey history, the “flying v formation,” followed by the least realistic penalty shot in history, the “triple deke.”

1 Slap Shot (87%/87%)- Let’s be clear about one thing–there will never be another hockey movie that comes close to the perfection that is Slap Shot. From established star Paul Newman’s Reg Dunlop character, to the secondary teammates like French-Canadian goalie Denis Lemieux, all the way to the legendary Hanson brothers this movie is full of unique and hilarious characters.

Dunlop plays the aging player/coach of the Charlestown Chiefs. The Chiefs are struggling with attendance and Dunlop happens to overhear the owner on the phone saying he is disbanding the team, which would leave the players unemployed. Dunlop creates a rumor that the team has been sold to an investor in Florida, which inspires the team to perform better in order to impress the new ownership.

At times, the movie is a bit sappy for my taste but the skilled acting of Newman helps to get through the dramatic scenes and back into the hockey action. The movie really picks up steam when the mysterious and goofy Hanson brothers arrive in town with a Coke-bottle glasses and long stringy hair. When the Hansons finally earn some ice time all heck breaks loose and the Charlestown Chiefs really hit their stride.

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