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It’s not about the goals December 25, 2007

Posted by Amy in movies, sports.
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I finally got a chance to see “The Rocket,” the movie about NHL scoring legend Maurice Richard the other night. Being the long-suffering hockey fan that I am, it probably would have been one of the few movies I would have shelled out $10 to see on opening night, except it was only released in theatres in Canada & a few major American markets. So it was nice to able to finally see it on DVD, about two years after its release.

In the grand tradition of sports movies, ultimately it wasn’t about the hockey at all. “The Rocket” is the story of Maurice “The Rocket” Richard, who was a French-Canadian playing for the Montreal Canadiens back in the 1940s & 50s. The movie mostly depicts the apalling racism Richard had to overcome on his way to his legendary “50 goals in 50 games” record.

It was interesting to see that even back then, the NHL failed to recognize & optimize its best chance at relevancy. Blinded by prejudice, the league refused to protect Richard as the superstar he was, even as he was gunned at & blatently threatened by other teams’ goons. Richard was forced to protect himself, eventually sparking the Richard Riot of 1955 in Montreal when he was suspended for hitting a linesman in the middle of a violent brawl in the Boston Garden.

Overall, I was very impressed by how well filmed the movie was. It’s visually captivating. The hockey scenes were also extremely well done & I found myself gasping at Richard’s goals, even while knowing they were dramatized. It was a shame that the movie wasn’t marketed in the US since it did a really nice job of including some actual current NHL players in the cast, including Vinny Lecavalier & Ian Laperriere. But the best casting choice of all was to use current professional irritant, Sean Avery, as New York Rangers goon Bob Dill, whose threat against Richard was taken so seriously in the film that the Habs coaches almost took Richard out of the game for fear that Dill would kill him. Avery, one of the most hated players in the game today, doesn’t have to do anything but sit on the bench with his familiar wolf-like smirk to convey that Dill had every intention of fulfilling his threat. Coincidentally, Avery also plays for the Rangers.

Anyway, I highly recommend the movie. It’s one of the best done & well-acted sports movies I’ve seen in a long time. Check out the trailer here:

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