10 Best Hockey-Related Television Episodes of All Time
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With the Emmy Awards set for Sunday evening, there is no time like the present to reflect on hockey’s most memorable depictions on the small screen.
For diehard American puckheads, the search for a hockey-themed television episode, especially when compared to a similar search for the other major sports, can be akin to waiting for a goal in the so-called “dead puck era”. But when fictitious dramas, variety shows and/or sitcoms do slip on skates, the preceding wait is usually worth every second.
From fictionalized renderings of NHL teams to timely guest spots by noteworthy players, to appropriate satirical digs on certain aspects of the game, the top 10 puck-centric episodes are ranked as follows.
10. “Stanley’s Cup”
Callous, yet amusing as usual, South Park delivers a hard-checking parody of the first Mighty Ducks movie, also referencing the Avalanche-Red Wings rivalry, which was in its last throes when this episode premiered.
9. “Power Play”
The short-lived Mighty Ducks Animated Series revolved around a skating sextet of ducks with a Superman-esque backstory of coming to Earth from their ravaged native planet and subsequently juggling crime-busting with their civilian occupations.
No episode incorporated more hockey scenes than “Power Play,” in which the Ducks’ primary off-ice antagonist kidnaps a human hockey goon and amplifies his destructive capabilities. In due time, though, Anaheim’s resident enforcer sets Stanley Strazinski straight and teaches the show’s young audience a thing or two on what the sport is really about.
8. “Everybody Hates Gretzky”
Willie O’Ree and Kevin Weekes guest star in this episode of Everybody Hates Chris, which revolves around the title character and his brother’s quest to obtain an autograph from Wayne Gretzky.
7. “Never Love a Goalie”
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6. “Host Wayne Gretzky”
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5. “Fire in the Ice”
4. “Mac’s Big Break”
The Flyers had their turn in this episode, wherein Charlie trains Mac for a center-ice shooting contest to be held during intermission at the Wells Fargo Center.
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2. “Lisa On Ice”
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Before the quality of the show ran its course roughly a decade ago, The Simpsons consistently delivered top-shelf satire on any given issue in American society. Ultracompetitive parents and participants in youth sports were the target of this 1994 episode that pitted siblings Bart and Lisa against one another on the ice.
And, as you can see, the hockey world returned the favor when goaltender Peter Budaj painted the title family's next-door neighbor, Ned Flanders, on the back of his helmet.
1. “The Face Painter”
Just as the real-life NHL postseason tends to trump the entertainment value of the regular season, this classic episode of Seinfeld wins its deciding points by centering on a Devils-Rangers playoff series.
Even if you are not the most ardent fan of the show, but a moderate-to-major hockey buff, you ought to be inclined to quote this episode the same way you quote Slap Shot and Miracle. “You gotta support your team” and your sport.