Howie Mooney
FiredUp Network Sports Writer


Friday, November 11, 2022

We’ve all seen it.  The opening scene from Slap Shot in which sportscaster Jim Carr is interviewing Charlestown Chiefs goaltender Denis Lemieux and asking him to explain some aspects of hockey that fans in the fictional small town may or may not know.  In his mix of broken English and Quebecois French Joual, Lemieux uses his stick (sometimes forcefully) on Carr to talk about things like icing, high sticking, slashing and hooking and the shame one should feel for getting a two-minute penalty.

It all looks rather hilarious to the viewer.  But everyone and everything in that movie was based on real people.  And the role of goalie Denis Lemieux was based on an actual Johnstown Jets netminder.  He was a man who went on to be an All-Star in the World Hockey Association and eventually would play a game in the National Hockey League.

Andrew Duncan was the man who portrayed Carr.  He passed away on the day of Hallowe’en, October 31, 2022.  His passing caused me to go down a bit of a Slap Shot rabbit hole.  I went through my library and found any books I had that might have contained any information about the movie.  I found three.  I also watched the film again for the first time since 2014.

In October of 2022, I sat down with Ed Willes.  Willes is a retired sports writer who spent 38 years in the newspaper business.  His last 22 years were as a columnist for the Vancouver Province.  He has written several books but one that stands out for a lot of people is a book he wrote about the World Hockey Association called The Rebel League.  We talked about the league on the 50th anniversary of its inaugural face-off.

I brought up a WHA goalie who had played with the Minnesota Fighting Saints named Louis Levasseur.  Willes reminded me that he had been the inspiration for goalie Denis Lemieux in the movie.  Levasseur had been chosen to play in the league’s All-Star Game in Hartford in January of 1977.  The Saints that he played for were originally the Cleveland Crusaders.  The first iteration of the Fighting Saints folded in February of 1976.  So this team was the ‘new’ Fighting Saints.

The Crusaders were moved to Minneapolis-St. Paul before the 1976-77 season after the NHL’s California Golden Seals decided to move to Cleveland to become the Barons in 1976.  These ‘new’ Saints were actually doing alright on the ice in Minnesota.  Their record through their first 42 games was 19-18-5.  But attendance had not been great and their owner, Nick Mileti, was trying to unload the team to local business interests and couldn’t find anyone who was looking to buy.  The club folded on January 14, 1977.

Levasseur had been having a great year to that point with the Saints.  His selection to the league showcase in Hartford was a feather in his cap.  There was one problem though.  He no longer had a team to play for and therefore, had to pay his own way to get to the All-Star Game.  He eventually got there and played so well that he was named one of the game’s most valuable players.

He finished that season with the Edmonton Oilers.  In 1977-78, he played with the New England Whalers and the year after that, which was the final season of the upstart league, he had a stint with the Quebec Nordiques while spending most of his time in the minor leagues in Binghamton, New York, playing for the Broome County Dusters and Springfield, Massachusetts, with the Indians.

He did manage to play a game in the National Hockey League with the Minnesota North Stars in 1979-80.  But the bulk of his time in that season and in 1980-81, which was his last year of professional hockey, with the Oklahoma City Stars of the Central Hockey League.  

But how did Levasseur come to be the model for Denis Lemieux?  We only have to examine Levasseur’s hockeydb.com page to see where the roots of the movie came from.  In his 2010 book, The Making of Slap Shot, Jonathan Jackson talked about the man who would become Lemieux.

In 1974-75, Levasseur had joined the Johnstown Jets.  He had bounced all around the continent playing goal for numerous different teams.  The two previous seasons, he had played with the Orillia Terriers of the Ontario Hockey Association Senior ‘A’ league.  In 1973, the Terriers had won an Allan Cup as the top senior team in Canada.  He had signed with the Fighting Saints, but with John Garrett and Mike Curran playing on the WHA club, Levasseur would have to start the year with their affiliate club in Johnstown.

Levasseur was ‘a different cat’.  As legend has it, once, at a team party, he dressed up in fishing togs and spent the entire length of the affair casting a fishing rod, trying to hook a bar of soap that was in a fishbowl.  Ron Docken was the team’s other goalie.  He had gone to university, had a different perspective and looked upon his counterpart as a little bit off.

“Louie was about as flaky as you can get,” Docken told Jackson for his book.  “Louie did so many things that I didn’t understand.  You just look around and say, okay.”  Saints’ coach Glen Sonmor had a similar opinion of Levasseur.  “Goalies are flaky, I guess, but Louie was perhaps a little bit different.”

On that Jets’ team in 1974-75 were a number of interesting characters.  Looking at the roster we can see a number of possibly recognizable names.  Steve Carlson was the team’s leading scorer that year with 30 goals and 58 assists for 88 points.  Jean Tetreault played 57 games with the Jets that year and finished with 22 goals and 54 points.  Guido Tenesi had 42 points in 69 games as a defenseman on that team.

Jack Carlson had 27 goals and 49 points in 50 games.  His brother Jeff had 47 points over 64 appearances that year.  The statistic that stands out most for Jack and Jeff though are their penalty minutes.  In those 50 games, Jack compiled 246 minutes in the sin bin.  Jeff was assessed 250 minutes over the course of his year.  Jeff did it just 50 games!

If these names don’t sound familiar to you, let me add one more.  There was a player on that team who was a little less gifted offensively, but he could contribute pugilistically.  Defenseman Dave Hanson played in 72 matches with the Jets in that 1974-75 campaign and piled up 249 minutes in the box.  Dave Hanson?  Does that not ring a bell?

If you know, you know.  In case you don’t, I’ll tell you a little further on in this story.  But there was one other player on that Jets team who is important to the story.  Ned Dowd.  Dowd was a left winger who played 43 games that year with the Jets and scored 10 goals and finished with a total of 26 points.  But that is not the important part.

There was a malaise that had been hanging over the town as the Jets got off to an awful start in the fall of 1974.  Docken had broken his wrist in the summer and team captain Galen Head had a knee injury.  Attendance had gone down drastically and what was taking place on the ice wasn’t bringing people into the arena.  It was uncertain as to whether the team had any future in Johnstown. 

As Jackson writes in his book, “The players knew things were getting desperate.  They commiserated about their situation and, very late one night, or very early one morning, a drunken Dowd phoned his older sister Nancy.”

Nancy Dowd was a writer in Los Angeles.  She was a graduate of Smith College, a liberal arts institution in Northampton, Massachusetts.  She majored in French and was apparently embarrassed by her roommate’s eager use of profanity.  She had also completed her masters degree at UCLA.  When her brother told her what was happening in Johnstown, she asked Ned a question.  She wanted to know who the owner of the team was.  He said he didn’t know.  Nancy had an epiphany.

“And at that moment, I knew I was going to write the screenplay that would become Slap Shot.”

It was that one question that became her raison d’etre.  “Who owns the team?”  In her mind, she knew immediately what she wanted to do.  It wasn’t long before she had taken pen and put it to paper.  She wrote an outline for a story about “a loser team in a loser town” and “a man desperate to stay free as the Chrysler plant moves ever nearer”.

But beyond that outline, Nancy knew she couldn’t go anywhere beyond that outline without putting herself into that milieu.  She had to go to Johnstown to understand what was going on there and to see how everything in the town functioned.  She had to immerse herself in, what we would call today, ‘the vibe’.

In order to understand what the Johnstown Jets and the North American Hockey League was like in the early to mid 1970s, one had to examine where the team and the league had come from.  The NAHL had grown out of the old Eastern Hockey League.  The EHL began as an amateur organization that played out of Madison Square Garden in New York City in 1933.  The man who started the league was Thomas Lockhart and he served as its commissioner until its dissolution in 1973.

To say that the league was a rough-and-tumble loop would be to understate things.  Also, when you consider that until 1967, there were only six teams in the NHL, so only about 120 men had jobs at the top level of hockey’s hierarchy, it would figure that those men would do anything they could to hold on to their spots, and that included playing tough hardnosed hockey.  

Marcel Pronovost was a hard-nosed defenseman in the NHL for twenty years.  He split that time between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Detroit Red Wings playing 1,206 games at a time when playing 1,000 NHL games was a stellar achievement.  Much of that time was spent when the league had just six teams.  

“Everyone was tough enough to take care of themselves,” Pronovost told the Montreal Gazette’s Dave Waddell in 2007.  “We had to be because if we didn’t take care of ourselves, we knew we’d get sent to the minors.  That’s the place you really wanted to avoid, because that’s where the real enforcers were.”

Reggie Kent played for the Johnstown Jets from 1965 to 1974 and was one of the real people that the Reggie Dunlop character was based on.  He talked about the old EHL in Jackson’s book.  “The league was really, truly run from the standpoint of ‘anything went’.  If you got into a stick fight with a guy, they’d throw you out of the game and that was the end of that.  Try a stick fight today and see what happens – you’re banned for life.”

The character of Tim “Dr. Hook” McCracken was based on Ted McCaskill.  McCaskill played senior hockey in his hometown of Kapuskasing, Ontario and moved to Nashville to play in the EHL.  He had to learn how to be tough, but more importantly, he had to learn how to be tough-minded.  By the time he was gone from the league he made himself into one of the league’s best fighters and one of the most feared stick men.

“The first year I played in that league, I thought I was going to get killed,” McCaskill told Jackson for his book.  “I was just a hockey player trying to make a living.  But you go into places like Johnstown and Philadelphia (pre-1967) and Long Island and New Haven, man, they were tough.  They’d kick your ass just to try to beat you.  So I figured, after that first year, boy, I’d better get tough.  And I did.  And if I was going to be tough, I was going to be the toughest.”

Oh, and a post-script to McCaskill's bio -- His son Kirk was later drafted in the fourth round of the 1981 NHL draft by the Winnipeg Jets, and he played for a season on their American Hockey League affiliate in Sherbrooke.  He did dress for a game with the big club but never got to actually skate in the game.  After that season with the Jets, he retired from hockey to focus on baseball.  He managed to last twelve seasons in the majors, playing seven with the California Angels and five more with the Chicago White Sox.

Nancy Dowd did immerse herself into the Johnstown ‘vibe’.  Despite her liberal arts background, she allowed herself to become embedded in the Cambria County War Memorial, the home rink of the Jets.  She spent time in the dressing room, she sat with players in their homes, she tried to absorb every ounce of the hockey life of the Jets as she possibly could.  

She wanted to experience all of the spice that exists within the hockey team dynamic.  There is a certain banter that exists within all teams.  Every team is slightly different but there is a lot that is similar, especially within the walls of the dressing room and Nancy Dowd wanted to re-create that atmosphere, profanity and all, in her script.  

She stayed in Johnstown for a month before returning to Los Angeles.  When she left, she gave her brother Ned a tape recorder.  Ned brought that recording device everywhere he went.  His teammates knew it was there, but after a while, it became a part of the furniture and everyone just went about their everyday business.  With the tape recorder that Nancy had given him, Ned was able to capture so much of the dialogue that goes on in every hockey room.  It also became an integral part of Slap Shot.

So much of that language, banter and atmosphere permeates the movie.  Yes, there is a lot of blue language in the film, but, as Gordie Howe is quoted as saying, “There are two languages spoken in hockey – English and profanity.”  Having played the game for almost five decades myself, I can attest that ‘Mr. Hockey’ was right.

With all the time that Nancy had spent in Johnstown and with all the recordings she had from her brother Ned, she put together the first draft of her script.  She had a literary agent, Stu Robinson.  Robinson had a friend who had been an agent but had recently moved into film production.  The friend, Bob Wunsch, agreed to meet with Dowd, based on her script.

Wunsch was attracted to the quality of the story and not the fact that it was about hockey.  The story was raw and it was different.  Wunsch had a friend who had made a successful transition from agent to producer.  That man was Stephen Friedman.  Friedman also liked the story and the script.  Wunsch and Friedman didn’t like the name Dowd had given her story though.  They changed Hat Trick to Slap Shot.

The project needed a director.  In the process of trying to find one, the script began being talked about in Hollywood.  One actor who expressed interest early on in playing the role of player-coach Reggie Dunlop was Al Pacino.  Talks with Pacino seemed to go in a direction that the group didn’t necessarily want to go, though.  Pacino wanted to make changes to the script and he wanted Sidney Lumet to direct.  Dowd was not too keen on any re-writes to her script. 

Wunsch went to another friend.  Pat Kelley was an associate of director George Roy Hill.  Hill had directed Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Sting.  Hill won the Oscar for Best Director for The Sting.  A common element in both of those movies was one actor, Paul Newman.  Hill and Newman had worked together successfully and, perhaps more importantly, they enjoyed working together.  

So now they had a good script, a producer, a director and a major star for their project.  They needed a studio now to put the movie together.  Universal Studios had turned the script down the first time they looked at it.  But now, there was a bit of a glow to the whole thing.  

The group also had a bit on an ‘in’ with them.  George Roy Hill had had a good run of success with the organization.  Five of his previous six films had been released by Universal.  The man who was in charge of approval for the studio was Ned Tanen.  He wasn’t involved in the process when Universal rejected Nancy’s story and script ideas earlier.  

Tanen had a sense of humour that was similar to Dowd’s and Hill’s.  Thirty years after the film was released, Tanen told an interviewer that he made his decision to green-light the movie because of Dowd’s “brilliant, brilliant” script.  

“I’ve never read a screenplay where I kept falling out of my chair.  But when I read that script, I fell on the floor.  I just fell on the floor and I said, ‘I’m making this goddamned movie’.  Both Newman and Hill were committed, they both said they wanted to do it.  I said, ‘Well, here we go’.”  The parties all agreed, in November of 1975, to make their film.  

It was about six months after the Jets had won the Lockhart Cup.  That ultimate victory actually provided Dowd with a new way to end her screenplay.  And in the movie, we see the team win the championship and have their parade.  

That 1974-75 Jets team had so many players and people who were emulated in the movie.  In fact there were a number of players from the team who played roles in the film.

People have said that the role of Reggie Dunlop that Newman played was based on John Brophy.  But Ned Dowd has said that the character of Reggie Dunlop was based on a few different people.  One of them was Brophy, but another was one-time Jets’ player-coach Reggie Kent, at least in name.  Jets’ coach Dick Roberge also figured into the mix.  Dowd thinks he’s slightly Roberge.

“Maybe a little bit of Roberge, because he was the coach, although he wasn’t the player-coach when we were there.  He was an amalgam.  People want to read more into who was who and all that, but basically it was like a little postcard to that team and to what kind of went on, the lifestyle.  It’s a comedy, and there’s no great moral tale there.”

Don Hall had been a former Jets’ captain.  He eventually became the team president.  He was convinced in his opinion that the Dunlop character was based on Roberge.  “There was no question that the movie was the history of Dick Roberge.  No question about that.  It was about Dick Roberge, his life, his divorce, the whole bit.  It was his life.”  Roberge did make it into the movie in a role as one of the referees who drop the puck to start one of the games.

Louis Levasseur was the inspiration for Denis Lemieux.  But the Jets’ other goaltender played Lemieux’s backup in the movie.  Ron Docken was the other goalie for the Jets.  He was also the other goalie for the Chiefs.  He played the role of ‘Yvan Lebrun’, Charlestown’s back-up goalie.  In the movie, Docken portrayed Lemieux during the game sequences to make the goaltending look authentic.

The role of Ned Braden in the movie, a former college player who preferred to play with skill and had no desire to ‘goon it up’, was based on Nancy Dowd’s brother, Ned.  Ned Dowd had been good enough to make the roster at Bowdoin College and play there for three years.  He then travelled up to Montreal and played a season at McGill University.  

Bob O’Reilly played with Dowd at McGill and then against him in the NAHL.  He praised Dowd’s hockey skills and his ability when he spoke to Jonathon Jackson.  “Ned was a phenomenal hockey player.  He was by far the best player on our team and probably top five in the league.”  Dowd had a tremendous skating stride and could release a wrist shot the way Wendel Clark could more than a decade later.

He was 6’3” and 210 pounds and yet, he never played like he was that big.  In the 1970s, physical play was an important part of a player’s repertoire, and though his play at McGill got him a free agent tryout with the St. Louis Blues, they ended up sending him down to their NAHL affiliate, the Johnstown Jets, which they shared with the WHA’s Minnesota Fighting Saints.

“He was naturally strong, but it (the penchant for physical play) just wasn’t in his makeup,” O’Reilly said.  “In today’s world, he’d be in the NHL – not even a doubt in my mind.”  The character of Braden was played by Michael Ontkean.  His skating striptease at the end of the movie while everyone else was brawling on the ice is legendary.

Dowd did make an appearance in the movie.  He showed up near the end of the film as the one and only Ogie Ogilthorpe.  That character was based on Bill “Goldie” Goldthorpe.  Goldthorpe was infamous throughout the minor leagues and was best known as one scary dude.  In Liam Maguire’s book The Real Ogie – The Life and Legend of Goldie Goldthorpe, Bob Costas, in his foreword for the book, told a story about a confrontation he had with Goldthorpe on the Syracuse Blazers’ team bus in the fall of 1973.

Costas was beginning his senior year at Syracuse University and he had taken the job as the Blazers’ radio voice.  The job paid him $30 a game.  Costas tells the story in the foreword for Maguire’s book.  “One afternoon on the New York Thruway, en route to a matchup with the Long Island Ducks, I was seated just in front of Goldie, minding my own business, reading the New York Times.”

“But that alone touched a nerve with Goldthorpe.  He reached over my shoulder, ripped the broadsheet from my hands, tore it into pieces, and then let them flutter to the floor of the bus like New Year’s confetti.  Now, all eyes were on us.  Somehow, in that moment, I thought a face-saving response was in order.  With the whole team as my audience, I looked up at my tormenter and said, ‘Don’t be jealous, Goldie.  I’ll teach you to read.’”

“This was not wise.  In an instant, he yanked me from my seat and slammed me up against the window of the moving bus.  Lifting me a few inches off the floor with one hand, he reached into the rack above us and pulled down the hacksaw the players used to trim their sticks.  Eschewing its intended purpose, he instead placed it beneath my chin.  Now, I knew Goldie had no intention of decapitating me.”

“But my mind went whirring through the other possibilities he had likely not considered – a pothole, the driver swerving to avoid a deer on the road.  Whatever.  I distinctly remember saying, ‘Goldie, surely we can settle this amicably.’  This did not diffuse the situation.  Meanwhile, out of the corner of my eye, I see a makeshift SWAT team, led by Butch Barber (brother of Bill), making its way to the front of the bus.  ‘Goldie...Goldie...put the hacksaw down.  Now put Bob down.’  Which, thankfully, he did.”

Can you imagine the fear that the young Costas must have been experiencing?

There were several of the actual Johnstown Jets who had on-screen roles as members of the Charlestown Chiefs.  Guido Tenesi had played with the Oshawa Generals with players like Rick Middleton, Lee Fogolin, Rick St. Croix and Pat Ribble.  He was a fifth round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Penguins and was also drafted by the Toronto Toros of the WHA.  

His professional career began in the 1973-74 season.  He played a couple of years with the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League and part of a campaign with the Tulsa Oilers of the Central Hockey League.  He then spent two seasons and a part of a third with the Johnstown Jets.  While in Johnstown, Slap Shot was being shot in the War Memorial Arena and Tenesi was a part of the production.  He played Billy Charlebois in the film.  

Jean Tetreault had played his junior hockey with the Montreal Junior Canadiens.  He played most of the 1973-74 season with the Roanoke Valley Rebels of the Southern Hockey League but he was also called up to the Vancouver Blazers of the WHA.  He spent the next two years with the Johnstown Jets.  He played the role of Bergeron in the movie.  His character spoke only French and needed Denis Lemieux to translate everything that was said by everyone else to him.

The character of Joe McGrath, the Chiefs general manager was modeled after the Jets’ GM, John Mitchell.  Strother Martin was masterful in portraying a penny pinching overseer, especially given the mass of anarchy that was going on all around him.  In the scene in which he was trying to negotiate the bail for the Hansons, he demonstrated all of the frugality that was required of a minor league manager in the mid 1970s.

If you look really closely, you’ll spot Bruce Boudreau as a player for the Hyannisport Presidents in one of the games they played against the Chiefs.  Boudreau was wearing Number 7 for the Presidents.  There were some on the production who suspected that Boudreau enjoyed the camera and spent some of his time lingering on the screen, perhaps a little more than was necessary.

But the most famous of the 1974-75 Jets who played in the movie were the three men who have become known as the Hanson Brothers.  They were, of course, Steve Carlson, Jeff Carlson and Dave Hanson.  There was a third Carlson brother, Jack, who was supposed to be in the movie as well, but his 27 goals, 49 points and 246 penalty minutes in just 50 games were too much for the Minnesota Fighting Saints and their coach, Glen Sonmor, to ignore.  They called him up before production began and he was not in the movie.

To say that the ‘Hansons’ were the stars of this film or that they ‘stole the show’ would not be understating things.  They were the most memorable part of the entire film.  45 years later, the ‘brothers’ still tour North America to great applause and acclaim.  Yes, Paul Newman was great in his portrayal of the player-coach Reggie Dunlop, but the most enduring element of the entire movie has been The Hanson Brothers.

Newman was well known to have a penchant for playing practical jokes.  There is a scene late in the movie in which Newman’s character, Dunlop, has to drive out to Ned Braden’s home to try to talk him back into playing for the Chiefs.  Before the scene, Newman told director George Roy Hill that the car that Dunlop was driving in the film had some kind of issue and he wasn’t sure it was safe.

The scene required Newman to drive out of camera-shot and out of the view of the director.  He did his scene and drove away and over the small hill and as he did, there was a huge noise that sounded like a massive collision.  In reality, Newman had enlisted the ‘Hansons’ help to bang garbage cans and other things that would create a massive cacophony that sounded as if Newman had suffered a huge calamity.  

Hill and numerous others came over to where the racket had come from to find a laughing Newman, Hanson and Carlsons.  Hill was not amused.  He admonished Newman for his “malicious” prank and for a few days, the director would not speak to his star.  Of course, the two made their peace and the movie was completed.

In another scene in the movie, in a point later in the season, the Chiefs were playing in an important game in Hyannisport against the Presidents.  The whole segment was filmed in Syracuse.  In the scene, the Hyannisport fans are mobilized against the ‘Hansons’.  One fan takes his keys out of his pocket, screams something at Jeff Hanson and throws his keys at him, hitting Jeff in the head.

Jeff immediately reacts by climbing over the boards and the glass and scurrying into the stands to get a hold of the key-throwing perpetrator.  His teammates followed him.  The only problem is that, when the keys struck Jeff’s head, they knocked his glasses off.  He was unable to see anything sharply.  He was grabbing people and asking if the person he had a hold of was the one who threw the keys.

His ‘brothers’ and teammates would say “yes” and then “no”, but, of course, Jeff had already punched the supposed assailant in the face before realizing that he should not have done that.  The scene soon got out of hand though.  The people in the seats in Syracuse that day were getting a little too involved in the scene and the fighting in the stands between players and fans was getting to be a little too authentic.

As Jackson noted in The Making of Slap Shot, “Dave Hanson remembers that the fans in Syracuse, who weren’t inclined to be kind toward Johnstown hockey players, took it a bit too seriously when the Chiefs invaded the stands, and they actually tried to take him and the Carlson brothers out.  When you see Hanson, in particular, flailing around with people on his back, it’s for real.”

Personally, I can remember in the late 1990s, more than twenty years after the film’s release, when, as host of the Ontario Hockey League Friday night game that went across the provincial network, I was sitting with the Hanson Brothers during an intermission interview.  Of course, it degenerated into me being put into a headlock and being mock beaten up by the trio.  But that was what everyone had been waiting for....right?

It was all in good fun – just like the movie was.  Yes, the film was profane and somewhat grotesque in terms of the way that the game and the players were portrayed in the film.  But, when I think back to my own experiences playing hockey as a teen back in the mid to late 1970s, it was pretty close to real.  I can remember nights when things got kind of squirrely, both on the ice and off.

I can remember leaving a contentious playoff game against a south-end rival at our Ottawa home rink, the St. Laurent Arena.  When we got out to the parking lot, we saw that the tires on our coach’s car had been punctured and were flat.  I can’t remember if we had won the game or we had lost, but that reaction is nothing but extreme.

I can remember playing in a game in Alexandria which is in Southeastern Ontario, not far from Cornwall.  While standing in my crease during a stoppage in play, a small liquor bottle went flying past my head.  As a 17-year-old, that was kind of disconcerting.  But that was nothing compared to what our team experienced in a small town west of Ottawa that season.

We were playing in a game in, I believe, Arnprior on a Saturday night.  The arena was one of those in which our dressing rooms were separated from the rink by a rubber carpet runner that ran through the lobby of the building.  Of course, fans of the local team congregated in that lobby and heckled us before the game as we walked to the ice surface.

When things on the ice became contentious, the people got ugly.  It was the ‘70s.  Hockey was not pretty.  When the hitting got intense, things began flying out of the stands and on to the ice.  Garbage cans were one of the items that first were thrown over the glass.  Soon, it would be actual people who would be climbing over the glass to get on to the ice and attempt to engage individual members of our team to try to fight them.  In their street shoes!

As we were exiting the ice surface, walking through the lobby, we were screamed at, and threatened.  Eventually, we needed police assistance to get us out of the building.  It wasn’t commonplace, but it was something that wasn’t necessarily extraordinary when it came to hockey in the 1970s.  In that same vein, Slap Shot was almost a snapshot of hockey at that time and also of North American society and the economy, the attitudes and the mores of the era as well.

But then....I've just been trying to capture the spirit of the thing.

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You can get Howie's book, Crazy Days & Wild Nights, on Amazon. It makes the perfect gift for the sports fan in your life....or even you! You can listen to Howie and his co-host Shawn Lavigne on The Sports Lunatics Show, a sports history podcast, right here on the FiredUp Network, or on 212 different platforms wherever you find your podcasts, including Alexa.  Howie also hosts Like Father, Like Son with his son, Reese here on the FiredUp Network and those same platforms as well.