The NHL kicked off the new hockey season over the weekend, and you know what that means: bone jarring hits, end-to-end action and the perfect excuse to rewatch your favorite hockey movies of all time.
Okay, so maybe there aren't quite as many great hockey movies as there are, say, great movies about baseball. And we also admit that for some reason, Hollywood doesn't always seem to get hockey, often using the great sport as a platform for unfunny comedies ('The Tooth Fairy,' anyone?) or lame romcoms. (Remember 'The Cutting Edge'? Yeah, we wish we could forget it too.)
But for every misfire like 'The Love Guru' there's a great hockey film hiding in your Blu-ray bin, just waiting to be rediscovered. In order to help you celebrate the beginning of the new NHL season in style, then, we've put together our list of the top hockey films of all time. So drop your gloves and grab your popcorn, because it's time to face off with Hollywood's best puck potboilers.
And sorry, monkey fans, but 'MVP: Most Valuable Primate' didn't quite make the cut. Hey, there's always next year.
• Honorable Mention -- 'Happy Gilmore' Even though there's not a whole lot of actual hockey in 'Happy Gilmore,' we had to give a shout out to the classic 1996 Adam Sandler comedy about a failed hockey player who decides to join the PGA Tour as a pro golfer. Special props to Bob Barker for the "slap shots" he delivers to Sandler's noggin.
• 7. 'The Mighty Ducks'
While we don't exactly have the fondest of memories for the two sequels, the original 'Mighty Ducks,' which stars Emilio Estevez as a lawyer sentenced to community service in the form of coaching a youth hockey league, still makes us smile despite ourselves. The fact that the 1992 film led Disney to buy an actual NHL franchise and name it the Anaheim Mighty Ducks is just meta-icing on this pop culture cake.
• 6. 'Youngblood'
Rob Lowe and Patrick Swayze provide the all-star wattage in this 1986 film about the dangerous world of minor league hockey -- and the trials you have to face to become a man. Sure, the final fight scene is a bit over the top -- using your sticks like swords is pretty much an automatic suspension -- but we love every cheesy second of it.
• 5. 'Mystery, Alaska'
Russell Crowe took to the ice in this feel-good 1999 comedy about a local rec-league hockey team from the little town of Mystery, Alaska, which ends up taking on the NHL's New York Rangers in an exhibition game. Throw in the timeless Burt Reynolds as a supporting character and you have a recipe for gold medal action.
• 4. 'Sudden Death'
The mussels from Brussels is the ultimate enforcer in this 1995 action flick, as Jean-Claude Van Damme works overtime to prevent terrorists from blowing up an arena full of fans during the Stanley Cup Finals. Not only does the film feature a slew of NHL stars playing themselves in the film, it also uses the Penguins mascot as a villain. Score one for Hollywood.
• 3. 'The Rocket'
You may not be familiar with this 2005 Canadian film, but it was a sensation north of the border, earning 13 nominations at the Canadian equivalent of the Oscars, the Genie Awards. Roy Dupuis ('La Femme Nikita') stars as hockey legend Maurice "Rocket" Richard in a biography that the hall-of-famer personally vetted before his death.
• 2. 'Miracle'
Do you believe in miracles? Well, we sure do, especially after viewing this riveting and uplifting account of the infamous victory over the Soviet Union scored by a ragtag team American college students at the 1980 Winter Olympics. One warning, though: The 2004 Disney film, which stars Kurt Russell as legendary U. S. coach Herb Brooks, has been known to reduce grown men to tears.
• 1. 'Slap Shot'
Could there possibly be any other choice? This 1977 comedy stars Paul Newman as a hardscrabble minor league lifer who rallies a community around his scrappy Charlestown Chiefs in a last-ditch effort to save the team from folding. 'Slap Shot' may be the only film Newman was ever overshadowed in, though, as the fighting Hanson brothers (played by real-life hockey goons David Hanson, Jeff Carlson and Steve Carlson) stole the movie to become enduring icons of the sport itself. An all-time classic.