Slap Shot (1977)


Slap Shot is a 1977 film comedy starring Paul Newman and Michael Ontkean directed by George Roy Hill. It depicts a minor league hockey team that resorts to violent play to gain popularity in a declining factory town.


A team called the Charlestown Chiefs plays hockey in the fictional Federal League. A perennial loser and in financial trouble due to mill closings in the town, the team is due to be folded at season's end. Reggie Dunlop, the veteran player-coach, has no idea who the owner of the team is. During a hopeless season, the team picks up the Hanson Brothers, violent goons with child-like mentalities. Dunlop, perceiving them to be eccentric and unreliable, initially chooses not to play them. But in a moment of desperation, he brings the trio of thugs into a game to see what they can do. Their fighting and overly aggressive style of play excites the Chiefs' fans. Dunlop, seeing the potential, retools the team in the Hansons' image. Most players, such as Dave "Killer" Carlson (Jerry Houser), take a liking to this, with the exception of Ned Braden (Ontkean), who prefers a clean style of hockey from his college days. Braden's depressed wife, Lily (Lindsay Crouse), has difficulty adjusting to the life and finds a sympathizer in Dunlop's estranged wife Francine (Jennifer Warren). To keep them motivated, Dunlop plants a story with sportswriter Dickie Dunn (an outright lie) that the Chiefs are being sold to a prospective buyer in Florida, who would move the team out of bleak Charlestown to sunny climes. As the Chiefs continue winning and gaining fans, Dunlop blackmails the team's stingy General Manager Joe McGrath (Strother Martin) to tell him who the Chiefs' owner is. She turns out to be a rich widow, Anita McCambridge, who couldn't care less about hockey. She could easily sell the team now that Reggie has made it a success, but she can do better by folding the franchise and taking a tax write-off. One last playoff game remains. Dunlop reveals to the players that he has been conning them; there is no buyer. This is to be his last game, so Reggie wants to go out with dignity and not like a goon. All vow to play clean, going out with "old-time hockey." However, their opponents, the Syracuse Bulldogs, have chosen to assemble the most infamous set of enforcers ever to disgrace a hockey rink. They include legendary Federal League brawlers and a dreaded rookie goon, Ogie Ogilthorpe. Playing it straight, the Chiefs are brutally battered in the first period. In the locker room, a furious McGrath tells the players that there are NHL scouts in the stands. Some could get contracts. Hearing this, the Chiefs turn into goons again and the game degenerates into a slugfest. Braden, benched by Dunlop for not wanting to fight, finally snaps. He spies his wife Lily, who has undergone a complete makeover by Francine and is wearing a sexy new dress and hairdo. She's even enjoying the game. Braden skates out to center ice and strips off his uniform, prompting the arena's band to accompany him with "The Stripper". Both teams stop fighting and stare in amazement at Braden's striptease. Violence doesn't offend them, but this does. Syracuse captain Tim "Dr Hook" McCracken demands that the referee stop Braden. When the official refuses, McCracken sucker-punches him, causing the referee to declare a forfeit. This gives the game -- and the Federal League championship -- to the Chiefs. The team celebrates by parading around the ice with the championship trophy, carried by Braden, wearing nothing but skates and a jockstrap. It is revealed during a championship parade in Charlestown the following day that Reggie Dunlop has accepted a job as the coach of a new team, the Minnesota Nighthawks, and that he intends to bring Chiefs players with him.