Although there haven’t been a lot of movies made about hockey (At least not that many good ones), there have been some great movies and some endearing and memorable characters. All-time beauty Paul Newman was once quoted as saying that filming Slap Shot was his favorite experience as an actor and that the character of Reggie Dunlop was the closest he ever got to portraying his true self onscreen.
Now, with several classic fictional hockey movies made over the years—Slapshot, Youngblood, Mighty Ducks 1 & 2, and Mystery Alaska—chief among them, we’ve been exposed to a wide range of interesting characters. From Reggie Dunlop to Fulton Reed, there is a deep talent pool to choose from. If you had to pick only two all-star teams of all the great on-screen hockey beauties, who would you choose?
Here are my picks:
First Team All-Stars
Denis Lemieux (Slap Shot)
The fiery Quebecer was a natural born competitor with equal parts talent and eccentricity. I always said about goalies, “Never trust a goalie who isn’t at least a little bit weird.” Denis had quirkiness in spades and faced more rubber than anyone in the Federal League.
Billy Charlebois (Slap Shot)
Hailing from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Charlesbois was a steady defender who played sound, mistake-free hockey. Every team needs these types of players who can log huge minutes and play against the other team’s top lines. Charlesbois’ movie star good looks also helped foster team camaraderie as all the ladies flocked to him, allowing his teammates to pick up the scraps in his wake.
Huey Hewitt (Youngblood)
Aside from being a hard-nosed leader, Hewitt had a bomb from the point. Unafraid to go to bat for his teammates or pound pucks at refs, Hewitt’s unpredictability kept opponents looking over their shoulder and created extra space for his teammates. A natural prankster, Hewitt also kept things light in the room, further adding to a tight-knit culture.
Ned Braeden (Slap Shot)
One of the unique qualities to Ned Braeden’s character was that the actor portraying him (Michael Ontkean) actually played hockey—a 4-year career at Hockey East powerhouse University of New Hampshire, where he piled in 40 points in 29 games as a senior. Aside from being the leading scorer of the Federal League, Braeden acted as the card game treasurer on all road trips—a very important off-ice role on a minor league team.
Derek Sutton (Youngblood)
Derek Sutton was a born leader and natural hockey cultural beauty. There was nobody better from the blue line in, in all of movie hockey lore. 92 goals as an 18-year-old in major junior hockey is some serious shit. If it weren’t for an unfortunate career ending head injury, Sutton would have been a sure-fire NHL superstar.
Dean Youngblood (Youngblood)
Deaner cracks the first team due to an explosive rookie season that saw him join the surging Hamilton Mustangs during the stretch run, ultimately putting them over the top. It was when Derek Sutton went down that Youngblood showed his true mettle, leading the Mustangs to the championship and dusting Carl Racki in an epic centre ice tilt in the process. The fact that he took down his billet and the coach’s daughter in the same season didn’t hurt his case in making this team, either.
Second Team All-Stars
Narrowing down the second goalie spot on the All-Star team was the toughest decision. We don’t see a lot of Heaver (played by Keanu Reeves) in Youngblood, but he was quintessential to the success of the Hamilton Mustangs, backstopping them to the championship against the Thunder Bay Bombers. Heaver had great quickness from post-to-post and was one of the earlier goalies to employ the butterfly style.
Johnny Upton (Slap Shot)
Upton was the captain of the Charleston Chiefs and a level head in the room. Johnny wasn’t afraid to mix it up and his old lady, Shirley Upton, played an important role in keeping the wives and girlfriends in line. Even though there was always the threat that Johnny might have to leave and go work for his brother-in-law at the Chrysler plant, you always knew he’d have your back with the cards were down.
Morris “Mo” Wanchuk (Slap Shot)
Mo Wanchuk was a classic minor league journeyman and hard-nosed, tooth and nail defender. Fearless on the ice, Mo was equally fearless at the bar, brimming with confidence and charm. He once took down the bar maid at the Palm Isle without a wingman. Mo was the ultimate team guy—a necessity for all championship teams.
Reggie Dunlop (Slap Shot)
This wouldn’t be a proper all-star team without Player/Coach Reggie Dunlop. Reg was one of hockey’s greatest ironmen, playing for “quite a few” years in the different tiers of pro hockey. Once one of the game’s greatest players, Dunlop still provided immeasurable value well into his 40s, helping lead an improbable Chiefs team to the championship on the brink of disbandment.
Gunnar Stahl (Mighty Ducks 2)
One the best pure talents in hockey movie history, Gunnar Stahl dazzled at the 1993 Junior Goodwill Games. Equipped with a howitzer of a shot, Stahl dismantled a deep Mighty Ducks team during the round robin only to fail in dramatic fashion during the shootout rounds of the championship game. The biggest flaw to Stahl’s game was his ego. If he went blocker side on Julie “The Cat” Gaffney, Iceland likely would have won.
Gordon Bombay (Mighty Ducks Franchise)
Gordon Bombay is probably the most naturally talented movie hockey player to ever lace ‘em up. I mean he played house league hockey until he was 10 years-old and then quit. 19 years later, after attending law school and a brief law career, he laces them back up in the AHL, bursting out of the gates for the Minnesota Waves before a dirty hit ends his career for a second time. An innovator, much like Wayne Gretzky, Bombay used his patented “Triple Deke” to twist opposing goalies into knots.
Julie “The Cat” Gaffney
Gaffney would have likely been on this team had it not been for sexism. Easily the more talented of the two Might Duck goalies, Gaffney often found herself relegated to the end of coach Gordon Bombay’s bench. Gaffney was armed with hockey movies’ quickest glove.
Once one of the Federal League’s best netminders, Hanrahan’s marital issues consumed his career, sending him into a slump he was unable to recover from.
Despite being a fearless leader and great glue guy, pond hockey legend John Biebe’s skating ability held him off this team. He skated like a water buffalo on cross-country skis.
Although immensely talented, Banks was a soft player who tended to wither into the background when the opposition began to lean on him.
Although he was an inspirational leader, Conway’s lack of talent keeps him off this list.
Like the Sedin twins, these guys come as a package deal. There just isn’t a way I can justify putting all three Hanson brothers on one of the All-Star teams.
Donaldson was a complete player who spent a significant amount of time up playing in the big leagues. At the tail end of his career, his skills diminished greatly, forcing Minnesota to drop him. It was all over the Hockey News.
Despite being the best skater in hockey movie history, Weeks just didn’t have enough body of work to make this team.
Despite being one of the greatest pests in hockey movie history, Racki’s propensity for taking bad penalties at the wrong time and adding a cancerous element to the dressing room kept him off this team.