NHL Goes Hollywood: Motion Pictures Featuring NHL Players
More often than not professional athletes remind us why they should keep their day job. Being a famous athlete has provided dozens with the opportunity to cross over into the entertainment world. There is the token cameo appearance, then there are some roles that are created so that the stars of the sporting world can flex their acting chops.
Hollywood has no shortage of NHL players that have appeared in television and on the big screen. There aren't enough slides available to include all of Jeremy Roenick's performances as "Security Guard 1", "Male Secretary" or "Guy with nice flow" for the smaller screen. Every NHL city has the token car dealership commercial or local advertiser, but oftentimes the movie roles come down to knowing the right people.
We are all waiting patiently for J.R. to make his big-screen debut, in the mean time here are 14 films that have prominently (or not-so-prominently) featured some stars from the NHL. They may not have gotten the top billing, but they definitely stole some scenes. Enjoy now!
Jeremy Roenick and Wayne Gretzky don't physically appear in the 1996 film Swingers, but their video game likeness will live forever in this memorable scene. Why did EA Sports move away from the concept of making people's heads bleed? Sheesh!
The Love Guru (2008)
Mike Myers is a Toronto Maple Leaf fan and probably had a great time making the 2008 film The Love Guru. Starring in a movie with Jessica Alba certainly has a some perks, even if Myers didn't cast himself to star for his beloved Toronto club.
In a movie that features the NHL so prominently, only Rob Blake represents the NHL as a legitimate player. Perhaps that is why the movie failed at the box office and in the eyes of the critics.
Mystery, Alaska (1999)
The 1999 film Mystery, Alaska had a great if not novel idea for a plot. The hometown, middle-of-nowhere, rough-and-tumble hockey club takes on the high-profile, big city New York Rangers. Of course they weren't the real New York Rangers, but a group of hockey players in "Broadway" blue.
If they had managed to convince the 1998-1999 Rangers to play in the game the movie might have done better. It was Wayne Gretzky's final season in the NHL and even though the Rangers sucked, they had some legitimate star power with Brian Leetch, Adam Graves, Mike Richter and Petr Nedved.
I thought the movie was pretty good even if the only NHL connection was Barry Melrose and Phil Esposito who played themselves. Well, Esposito played himself, Melrose pretended to be a hockey expert.
The Mighty Ducks 1, 2 and 3 (1992, 1994, 1996)
I guess it was a generational thing but I took a pass on the entire Mighty Ducks" franchise. I was too old to watch it without feeling creepy, but too young to have kids that would have seen it. Instead I was left to play against a number of club teams that though it was clever to use some incarnation of the name "Ducks".
There was of course the token appearance from an NHL player or two in each of the films:
The Mighty Ducks—Mike Modano and Basil McRae
D2: The Mighty Ducks—Chris Chelios, Cam Neely, Luc Robitaille and Wayne Gretzky
D3: The Mighty Ducks—Paul Kariya, who was ironically the captain of the real Anaheim Mighty Ducks. See what they did there?
Sudden Death (1995)
I'll use the above clip as an example of why I missed seeing the 1995 Jean-Claude Van Damme movie Sudden Death. Obviously a ridiculous play on words that takes place in Pittsburgh at the Stanley Cup Final. Van Damme must save the Vice President and his daughter from a terrorist and...OK, the plot is almost as laughable as the fight scene with the Penguin mascot.
Here are the NHL players that appear in the film:
Luc Robitaille, Markus Näslund, Bernie Nicholls, Jay Caufield, Ken Wregget and Ian Moran, who strangely plays Chris Chelios.
An underrated favorite of mine is Goon from 2011. Seann William Scott stars as dim brawler Doug Glatt. Chock full of laughs and great lines, Goon is based on the career of enforcer Doug Smith. It won't win any Oscars but it's a fun hockey flick that doesn't pretend to be anything else.
Former NHL tough guy Georges Laraque appears as an enforcer with the Albany Patriots who has a polite, then violent exchange with Glatt.
Wayne's World (1992)
Though he isn't featured in the film, Stan Mikita and his doughnut shop feature prominently in the 1992 movie Wayne's World. The actual shop is supposed to be a play on Tim Hortons, a popular fast-casual restaurant chain in Canada. Sadly there is not an actual Stan Mikita's Donuts.
Con Air (1997)
Marty McSorley actually appeared in four feature films: Bad Boys, Con Air, Forget Paris and Trading Favors. The only photographic evidence I have of McSorley's appearance in any of these films is from Con Air, where he is one of the pilots of the criminal transport aircraft.
Sort of an ironic twist for the former enforcer who left his final mark on the NHL with some felonious behavior.
You could probably call this movie one of the worst hockey movies ever made, but it has a distinctive 1980s flavor. I was actually hoping that no NHL players were used in the film to avoid mentioning it, but then I found out that Peter Zezel and Steve Larmer were used as extras.
Bad plot, terrible acting, predictable ending. I was left wondering if Rob Lowe and Patrick Swayze even know how to ice skate.
The Rocket: The Maurice Richard Story (2005)
The 2005 film The Rocket was a biographical piece on Henri Richard and his ascent into hockey immortality as a member of the Montreal Canadiens. The film prided itself on authenticity and employed NHL players Mike Ricci, Sean Avery, Vincent Lecavalier, Philippe Sauve, Stephane Quintal, Pascal Dupuis and Ian Laperierre.
I think this is one of the best hockey films made to date. The historical significance and accuracy of the movie made it that much more interesting. Additionally, Sean Avery gets beat up by Richard, which is always a win.
This Is 40 (2012)
Though I haven't seen the film yet, I do know that four players, Matt Carle, Scott Hartnell, James van Riemsdyk and Ian Laperierre had cameos. There is apparently a memorable scene that involves actress Megan Fox putting Laperierre's false teeth into her mouth.
Seeing that might actually be worth the ticket price alone.
The classic measuring stick for hockey films is the 1977 classic Slap Shot. If only just to see Paul Newman in a light brown leather suit, Slap Shot doesn't disappoint from start to finish. The only concern I had with the movie is that there were no recognizable NHL players in the movie.
Or so I thought. Tucked deep in the credits is current Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau, who wore the green No. 7 for the Hyannisport Presidents. After hearing Boudreau's mouth in the 24/7 HBO series, it seems he would have fit right in to that movie.
Additionally, upon further review it turns out that two of the three "Hanson brothers" (Steve Carlson and Dave Hanson)had some time in the NHL along with two other characters in the movie Connie Madigan (Mad Dog Madison) and Cliff Thompson (Walt Comiskey).
Dumb and Dumber (1994)
Boston Bruin fans have probably never been more proud. When Dumb and Dumber was released in 1994 starring Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels, one of the more memorable performances was given from former Boston right wing Cam Neely.
Playing the role of a lifetime, Neely became the character of "Sea Bass" and made the character his own. So powerful was Neely's performance, he was asked to reprise his character in the 2000 film Me, Myself and Irene, playing a Rhode Island State Trooper.
With a movie that is filled with goose-bump moments, it is easy to miss that U.S. goalie Jim Craig is being played behind the mask by former NHL net minder Bill Ranford.
Eddie Cahill got the assignment of being the pretty face when the mask was off, but it was two-time Stanley Cup winner Ranford who did the dirty work.