Hockey and Hollywood have never been comfortable bedfellows.Â Perhaps the main reason why, is that every American’s perception of the beautiful game has been conventionalized by a certain movie-that-shall-not-be-discussed.Â Hockey’s been a minor backdrop in movies like the Karate Kid and TV shows like Dennis Leary’s Rescue Me and has been trivialized in flicks like Mystery, Alaska and the Mighty Ducks 1 thru 17 (all Disney efforts).Â These didn’t do much of a service as regards popularizing the sport.Â In my opinion, only two movies have given the great sport of hockey a dignified treatment, the Canadian production about Maurice Richard entitled “The Rocket“, and Kurt Russel’s wonderful film “Miracle“, which was shot primarily in Vancouver.
Like Dennis, who loves and plays hockey a couple of times a week, Mike Myers wants to pay homage to this Canadian cultural tradition on film.Â The NHL wants it, too.Â It’s rumored to have a kitty up for grabs by filmmakers who want to make hockey the backdrop or the focus of their movies.
Mike Myers’ film is called “The Love Guru” and centers on a love triangle involving a woman and two professional hockey players.Â At least hockey is in there, so many scenes might be shot in rinks and/or locker rooms, etc.Â It might have hockey players floating around from scene to scene, but it’s not exactly about hockey, is it?
How many movies has the U.S. filmmaking industry generated that are centered around Football?Â From “Any Given Sunday” to “Waterboy“, there is a list of more than 30 of them.Â No one seems to want to make the same kinds of movies about hockey, detailing the tragedies and epic triumphs that occur just as frequently in hockey as in any other sport.
The NHL seems to think that movies are a way out of their image problem, but I suspect that the NHL’s image problem is why Hollywood has been reticent to green-light films about hockey.Â That, coupled with the fact that Bettman has actually managed to diminish the NHL’s already minuscule audience under his tutelage.Â Heck, even the NHL’s web traffic is a flat line:
Those few fans that do exist are vehement, and Kurt Russel, certainly no exception from that club, has even done his best to vaunt the sport into the American psyche be re-hashing the way-too-oft-retold tale of the US Olympic hockey team’s wacky victory over the evil Russians in 1980. Â Why can’t the NHL leverage these to develop the sport’s image?
Mike Myers wants to kind of work hockey into a movie through the back door, but I’m not sure that putting Justin Timberlake in a hockey uniform for some romantic comedy is going to do any favors for the growth of the sport.