This week has been a big one for movie buffs, not just wrapping up with the Oscars tonight, but also marking the 40th anniversary of perhaps the most iconic hockey film of all time, Slap Shot. Between comedies, documentaries, dramas and kids flicks, there have been countless movies made about the game over the years, (some better than others) and almost as many listicles written arguing which is the the best and why.
Now, I'm no movie expert, so I'm not going to sit here and tell you why one film is better than the next or why you should or shouldn't like it, but I can tell you about the handful of hockey movies that I find myself watching time and time again and why they're my trusty go-tos.
Honorable Mention: She's Out of My League (2010)
You may be questioning how this movie made the cut, as it's most definitely a romcom and not really a hockey movie at all, but like any Jay Baruchel film, you can't get too far into the script without a hockey scene popping up for good measure. The film's unlikely romance begins with a double date at a Penguins game where, after TJ Miller spends his full $20 budget on not four, but two stadium-priced beers, Alice Eve's character impresses Baruchel with her surprising knowledge of hockey––because nothing says true love like overpriced booze and yelling obscenities at strangers on the ice together. ❤️️
The Mighty Ducks (1992)
While the whole drunk driving thing went way over my head as a kid, you'd be hard pressed to name a better hockey movie from the early 90s than The Mighty Ducks. On top of an all-star cast and a feel-good story, not many Disney films can say they went on to inspire the name of a pro sports team, and the real Anaheim Ducks still honor their Mighty roots on their third jerseys.
Following in the footsteps of Slap Shot a some 30 years later, Goon reminds us of the precious gem that is fictional minor league hockey. After being cast out by his brainy family, lovable tough guy Doug Glatt, played by Seann William Scott, finds his calling as an enforcer for the Halifax Highlanders. Athletes often say how lucky they are to be adults who get to play a child's game for a living, and movies like Goon––while certainly not a family-friendly film––capture the simple joys of the game.
Happy Gilmore (1996)
While Happy may be somewhere in between a hockey and a golf movie, it's 100% comedic gold and oh so quotable ("the price is wrong, bitch"). While most of the film chronicles Happy's quest to beat Shooter McGavin ("you eat pieces of shit for breakfast...?") at golf and get his grandmother's house back, the rowdy country club misfit never lets up on insisting he's a hockey player (and good thing, since Virginia doesn't date golfers). Happy's creativity, perseverance and hockey-player spirit (along with that gold hockey stick putter) ultimately prevail, and Shooter's sent running from Mr. Larsen (RIP).
My all time favorite hockey movie tells the most epic story in American hockey history and never fails to induce chills, tears and all sorts of other emotions, regardless of how many times I watch it. Kurt Russell's portrayal of the greatest Olympic coach of all time is spot on and truly brings to live the underdog story that we all love so much. From the "again, again" scene to Herb's famous locker room speech, Miracle has more iconic moments than I can count and never disappoints when I need a good motivational pick-me-up.
Got suggestions for other great hockey films? Share 'em on Twitter and keep the list running. Now go out there and take it.