I just re-read a fine and fun book called Zamboni Rodeo* by Texas Monthly author Jason Cohen (check out Stanley Cup of Chowder's interview with him from a couple of years back here!) and started thinking about the books, films, and TV shows that had hockey as a whole or a part of the story being told. There are a surprising number, and until relatively recently they pretty much sucked. And some continue to in truly spectacular ways - cough cough.
Still, it's always fun to catch something out of the corner of your eye or as you flip through channels - am I showing my age, there? - and stay for the ice time. Where movies have (mostly) failed, television has worked. Why? Probably because if it's going to be for a Canadian or Northeastern US audience, you'd better believe we know what a game looks like!
Little quirks can irritate me (like how a goalie from a local team can hold the New York Rangers to two goals over sixty minutes and NOT get invited to a pro tryout. I mean, seriously!) but I forgive big mistakes in kids films (all of Most Valuable Primate) because, well, kids.
But my favourite appearance of hockey was probably the most unexpected - and jarring.
For those of you who only know Robbie Coltrane as Hagrid, he also had a series in England called Cracker which makes the occasional appearance on this side of the pond on some specialty channels. Good show about a hard-drinking psychologist specializing in police work, the 'side story' of one episode kicked off with a superstar NHL player (with an invented French name) holding out from his professional team... by playing in Scotland. It was such an interesting choice that I can't even remember the episode it was in, but I do remember the hockey story had nothing to do with the main plot. Perhaps one of the writers was a secret fan?
So here's my question: what stands out for you with appearances of hockey in our culture? Good, bad, or otherwise. Is there a memory you can't scrub clean, or moved you deeply that you want to share? Surprisingly good moments? Horrifically bad ones? Sing out!
*Zamboni Rodeo has Mr. Cohen following the Austin Ice Bats of the Central Hockey League, and is a great view into the minds of CHL owners, managers, coaches, players, and fans alike in what would never be considered a "traditional" hockey market.
Some of the people he writes about are all about trying to reach a higher level; others who see themselves as lucky to be anywhere in a professional league. All of them ask themselves, consciously or not, what it would take to get there. It really gives an appreciation for the skill and drive to reach the highest peak when you realize these guys are trying to get promoted to the AHL - or even the ECHL - and most aren't going to make it even that far.