When the Hanson brothers brought their toys with them to the Charlestown Chiefs, no one knew this raunchy hockey-flick would turn into a cult classic.
The movie featuring foul-language, obscene gestures and kooky characters was released in 1977, and holds up as one of – if not the greatest hockey movies of all time.
But, like every movie, there may have been some interesting facts you didn’t know. So, put on the foil and let’s dive deeper into the movie Slap Shot.
8. AL Pacino as Reg Dunlop?
Yep. Fresh off his success of The Godfather, the Charlestown Chiefs could have had Pacino as their Coach/GM. Pacino showed interest in the role and was the favorite to land the lead, but had a falling out with director George Ray Hill after it was learned Pacino couldn’t skate.
Pacino expressed that he regretted missing out on the film. It’s hard to imagine anyone other than Paul Newman leading the Charlestown Chiefs on the ice, but if Pacino could lace ‘em up, he would have been the face of the franchise.
7. NHL Talent in Charlestown
Before making his way to the NHL, Bruce Boudreau, who coached in Washington, Anaheim and currently in Minnesota, made a stop in Charlestown. The movie opted to use players from the Johnstown Jets, the team that the movie was based on and where the movie was filmed.
Boudreau, alongside Dave Hanson and many other Jets’ players made their way to the screen to help out with the movie. You can catch Boudreau as #7 for the Hyannisport Presidents.
6. The Language Broke Barriers
Not necessarily a good thing, the classic flick definitely earned the R rating. With multiple instances of the ‘F’ word alone, the film used vulgar language throughout the film in its attempt to replicate the jargon used by professional hockey players.
The film’s poster even featured an added advisory, warning that the use of language in the film was unsuitable for any parent absurd enough to bring their child to a viewing.
Paul Newman admitted that the use of colorful language stayed with him for after the cameras stopped recording, but, the language used was “right out of the locker room.”
5. The Opening Scene was Incorrect.
Spoken with broken English, Chiefs goaltender Denis Lemieux (Yvon Barrette) was live on Sports Talk to help fans with the finer details of hockey. In an interview with the Charlestown sports anchor and play-by-play man Jim Carr (Andrew Duncan), Lemieux tries his best to demonstrate and inform the fans of certain penalties.
While the scene was comedic and set the tone for the rest of the film, On the DVD commentary, Dave Hanson reports that Lemieux botched the job. As the scene takes place, Lemieux clearly mistakes hooking for slashing, cross-checking for high-sticking and butt-ending for spearing.
Hanson joked “that’s what happens when you get a goaltender to (explain the rules.)” To be fair to Barrette, it’s not like anyone watched the movie for penalty accuracy.
4. The Movie was Hated by Critics
It’s hard to believe that anyone would dislike the bizarre Chiefs, but the film was ripped apart by accredited publications like Time magazine and The Wall Street Journal. While the film’s charm was found in its vulgar humour and profanity, critics were not a fan. Once the film began reaching cult status from hockey fans and movie-goers, publications began re-thinking their original assessment.
Slap Shot is certainly bawdy, but not enough to change the minds of its doubters. Gene Siskel, who originally gave the movie an unfavorable review, regretted his original criticism, stating that Slap Shot was one of the greatest American-made comedies of all time.
3. The Pranks Were Prevalent.
Arguably Slap Shot’s greatest characters, the Hanson brothers didn’t shy away from a fight (or a coke) in the movie. Hanson and the Carlson brothers stirred the pot on and off the ice. They weren’t afraid to try and lighten the mood across the set, via practical jokes.
They filled Newman’s portable sauna with popcorn, put baby powder in hairdryers and engaged in tomfoolery. It’s clear when the trio is together all eyes need to be on them to ensure nothing goes awry.
2. Actors Sustained Injuries During the Shoot
Hockey players are tough and actors portraying hockey players are no different. Newman injured his groin muscle during a skirmish in the penalty box after antagonizing Hanrahan and many players/actors received cuts, blemishes and bruising.
All of the behind the scenes anecdotes can be read in Jonathon Jackson’s novel The Making of Slap Shot: Behind the Scenes of the Greatest Hockey Movie Ever Made.
1. Slap Shot May Have Interfered with the Jets’ Championship Run
As mentioned before, the Johnstown Jets approved 11 players to join the film, but it may have interfered on winning a championship. When the movie entered production, the Jets were simultaneously making a North American Hockey League (NAHL) championship push.
While this was happening, the 11 members remained active in both the film and on the roster. So, when the Jets were eliminated in the Semi-Finals of the NAHL playoffs, Johnstown’s executive director John Mitchell accused the players of prioritizing the film over the team.
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