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Counting down the top five hockey movies (that aren't really about hockey)

By Thaddeus Carroll, SportsEngine, 07/02/20, 5:00PM MDT


Hub exclusive: A reporter digs into Hollywood history to share what he thinks are the best picks.

When thinking about hockey movies, “Friday the 13th” from 1980 may not be the first thing to pop in the brain but it could still be considered a hockey movie.

Quick, think of your favorite hockey movie. Does it involve Kurt Russell delivering a rousing speech inside the Team USA locker room? How about the Mighty Ducks carving through opponents with their Flying V, or Doug Glatt dropping gloves with seemingly all of professional hockey? What about Jason slashing through a victim on an October night?

Miffed by that last one? If that’s the case, it’s time to switch gears because we’d like to give the best hockey movies that truly aren't about the sport their time to shine.

Below, a reporter breaks down his top five favorites. Be sure to vote for your favorite in the poll at the bottom of the page.

Photo courtesy of Miramax Films

Photo courtesy of Miramax Films

5. "Swingers"

A Miramax Films picture about a group of guys working towards acting careers in Los Angeles couldn’t have anything to do with hockey, could it? Not until Vince Vaughn makes Wayne Gretzky’s head bleed (albeit virtually), cementing “Swingers” spot on this list. A longtime hockey fan and 2010 Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup championship ring recipient, Vaughn takes control of his favorite team via ’NHL 94 on Sega Genesis. He scores with Jeremy Roenick, talks some trash to his friend, and when a delivery man comes to the door, takes advantage of the distraction by plowing one of his players into the Great One.

Photo courtesy of United Artists

Photo courtesy of United Artists

4. "West Side Story"

“West Side Story,” a classic musical distributed by United Artists in 1961, based on a 1957 Broadway musical of the same name, has some not-so-subtle similarities to every NHL season. The Jets (Winnipeg) and Sharks (San Jose), whose eventual leader's name is Ice, battle through a season, blood gets spilled and when they have a chance to win Maria’s love (the Stanley Cup), it never works out for either.

Photo courtesy of MGM Studios

Photo courtesy of MGM Studios

3. "The Cutting Edge"

Usually the only things connecting figure skating and hockey are cold weather and a sheet of ice. However, it’s the dash of hockey that turns this 1992 romantic comedy from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios into something memorable.

In “The Cutting Edge,” Olympic hockey player Doug Dorsey loses peripheral vision in his right eye after taking a hit to the boards, so, with some prodding, he attempts to make it back to the Olympics as a pairs figure skater. He struggles with the new skates, fails at ballet, tears off his frilly costume in disgust, and lies to his friends about starting his new career (which actor D.B. Sweeney, who plays Dorsey, actually did to his real-life hockey buddies when discussing the movie). This film comedically embodies all the reservations many hockey players would have about the career shift, and with just a few minutes of actual stick-handling, belongs near the top of the best non-hockey hockey movies list. Former NHL defenseman Chris Chelios even has a cameo.

Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures

2. "Friday the 13th"

Here's a movie that embodies true hockey adjacency. Does it have anything to do with hockey?  Not so much. However, the main villain in "Friday the 13th" from 1980 channels his best Jacques Plante impersonation before slashing opponents so vigorously the infraction should receive five-minute major consideration. The film, which was distributed by Paramount Pictures, is so intricately linked to the sport that whenever I see footage of Ken Dryden, Plante or check out Steve Shields’ more modern look, I think that’s a Jason mask.

Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures

Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures

1. "Happy Gilmore"

“Happy Gilmore” may seem like a golf movie which urges viewers to approach clubbing the ball with a running start. However, this film from Universal Pictures pulls off the impossible, as it includes just enough hockey to make it a cult classic for both sports.

Sandler’s failed hockey player turns to golf, donning a Boston Bruins jersey for several tournaments, wants to replace the figurine on the top of his trophies with a hockey player, and brings his slap shot to the putting green. He even finds a way to incorporate fighting, creating an iconic scene with his Pro-Am partner Bob Barker, former host of the television game show “The Price Is Right.”

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