Best hockey movie of the ‘80s turns 30 (and nobody noticed)
The Eighties might be known for a lot of great movies in a variety of genres (teen flicks, movies promoting needless frontal nudity, aquatic space aliens, etc), but among those, nobody really thinks any good hockey movies were made in the ‘80s. And they’d be wrong.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Youngblood, which was released on Jan. 31, 1986.
When you think of the classic hockey flicks, 1977’s Slap Shot is almost universally tapped as the king. Others might prefer 1999’s Mystery, Alaska or the Mighty Ducks franchise. (And god knows my all-time favorite is 2011’s Goon.) But Youngblood? When you think about it, it’s a lot better than you think. (If you even saw it at all.)
Youngblood starred Rob Lowe as Dean Youngblood, a promising hockey play who goes to Canada to sharpen his skills and take a shot at getting signed to the NHL. Too bad he’s a little reluctant to drop the gloves whenever the game gets rough. Patrick Swazye is the team captain who mentors Youngblood in the intangibles. And Cynthia Gibb is the coach’s daughter who will forever change the way you think about water bottles.
Not everyone liked the movie. Critic Roger Ebert gave it two stars, writing: "Youngblood is not a bad movie, and indeed has moments of real conviction. But it is doomed by its plot, which is yet another example of what I like to call the Climb from Despair to Victory (CLIDVIC, rhymes with Kid Pic).”
Still, despite it all, I proclaim Youngblood to be at the top of its class amoung '80s hockey movies. Perhaps because it's about the only '80s hockey movie out there.
Here are five things you probably didn’t know about Youngblood on its 30th anniversary:
1. Eric Nesterenko, who plays Rob Lowe's father in the film was a former professional hockey player who had spent most of his career playing for the Chicago Blackhawks. Other characters in the movie were also played by professional players.
2. Keanu Reeves, in only his second film, plays the team’s goalie. He and Swayze would work together again in Point Break.
3. Swayze and Lowe previously worked together in The Outsiders.
4. Lowe had to be taught to ice skate before filming could begin. Reeves was the MVP of his college team. Swazye’s only ice experience was as a figure skater.
5. The Hamilton Mustangs are a fictional hockey team loosely based on a real life hockey team that did exist in Hamiltion. That franchise left Hamilton in 1988 and is now based in Erie, PA.