As the NHL lockout continues to drag on, there isn't much hockey news here in America that is really worth writing about. The AHL and many other minor and junior leagues are playing out their seasons as usual but are harder for many people in certain areas to attend.
On the heels of last nights election, I was in a bit of a patriotic mood and decided to do another hockey movie swap. This time I'm tackling the 2004 film chronicling the story of the 1980 US Men's Olympic Hockey Team, 'Miracle.'
This film is one of, if not the best actual hockey films ever made. When looking at the on ice action it has the look and feel of a real game. One the biggest reasons for this is during casting the only one of the players selected for a role who was an actor first was Eddie Cahill, who played the role of the Olympic Hero goaltender Jim Craig. Much of the reason for this was the internal struggle which Craig faced and Cahill being an actor gave him the much needed ability to personify the goaltender who was reeling from the loss of his mother to going into a rage after a drubbing at the hands of the powerful USSR squad at Madison Square Garden to finding his confidence again as the "goalie who wouldn't take the test." All of the other characters were portrayed by ex-junior or ex-pro hockey players. One of the cooler stories behind this film is one of the USA's top players, Buzz Schneider, was actually played by his own son, Bill, in the film. Beyond the story line and Kurt Russell's performance as the legendary Herb Brooks, the visual game footage is outstanding.
Now down to recasting the movie with current NHL counterparts. The trick this time is I am only using American born NHL players and an American born coach. This will greatly diminish the choices but I feel this is the best way.
Let's begin with the coach. Who could ever measure up to the legendary Herb Brooks? He was a man who was not only applauded for his hockey mind on the ice but also his ability to get his players to give their all and become great teams. He not only has a 1980 gold medal to his name as a coach but in 2002 at the Salt Lake City Olympics, he coached Team USA to a silver medal. This is quite an accomplishment considering the Canadian team they ran up against in the Gold Medal Game. I feel this role was a toss up between New York Rangers bench boss, John Tortorella, and the man at the helm in Philadelphia, Peter Laviolette. In the end I am going to go with Laviolette. The man has a way to get the most out of his players and as seen on 24/7 this past winter, he was able to motivate them with words. This was one of the biggest weapons Herb was able to use in games. He used words to spark his players and give them that jump they were looking for in big spots. Laviolette is a man who will use his words and emotions to excite his players and get them focused on their ultimate goal.
Next up on the list is the captain, Mike Eruzione, who is forever immortalized for his game winning goal against the USSR in the famed 'Miracle on Ice' game. The player whom this honor goes to is none other than Minnesota native and Wild player Zach Parise. Parise is arguably the best American born forward in the NHL right now and was one of the best young captains in the game during his time in New Jersey. In 2010 Parise was the man who pushed the Gold Medal game to overtime with his goal in the closing seconds. He has proven over his time in the NHL he can lead by example and come up big for his team when they need him most.
Jim Craig will always be known to American hockey fans as the wall who backstopped the USA to their gold medal, and was the biggest reason they defeated the USSR in that game. The current NHL goaltender most suited to fill Jim's skates is the young Stanley Cup Champion from Connecticut, Jonathon Quick. During the King's Cup run this past season Quick was arguably the biggest reason they skated away with Lord Stanley's hardware this year. This was never more evident than in the moments before the presentation of the Cup when Quick was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy for being the MVP of the Playoffs. Quick made sure his team had a chance in every game and in the end was hoisting the Cup after outshining the ageless wonder in Marty Brodeur. This was in a way a mirror of Craig besting Tretiak and sending the old legend to the bench early in the game way back in 1980.
One of the more interesting characters from the movie was US defenseman Jack O'Callahan. He is portrayed as a short-fuse, looking for vengeance on a teammate four years after an ugly incident but he is quickly changed and goes on to become a defensive cornerstone for the team and was one of the biggest reasons they would eventually defeat the USSR and take home a gold medal. The US born d-man most suited to play bruising Jack O'Callahan is the Pittsburgh Penguins and San Francisco native, Brooks Orpik. An interesting side note to Orpik is that his parents named him Brooks after 1980 coach Herb Brooks. Orpik's style is very similar to OC in the way that he is able to use his body as a game-changer and is willing to play through pain to help his team win. He may not have the shortest fuse in the league but Orpik is definitely a defenseman who uses physical force and drops the gloves when his team needs it.
That wraps it up for this edition, hopefully next time I can post about the end of the lockout and actual NHL stories because I'm beginning to run out of hockey movies to do this with!
From the Box