NEW YORK — As the emerging face of the NHL, Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid seemingly has it all: unparalleled speed, a Hart Trophy as MVP, and a supporting cast that makes his team a legitimate title contender this coming season.
Until last season, McDavid was missing only one thing: He had never seen the movie “Slap Shot.”
For a league still obsessed with the 1977 cult classic, that’s the ultimate penalty; the 20-year-old McDavid might as well go to the box for two minutes, by himself, and feel shame.
“No way, he had never seen it?” remarked Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn. “I am surprised. He is pretty young still, I guess. What year was he born, late 1990s? But he probably should have seen it before.”
“I’m not sure how that got lost on him,” said Taylor Hall, who roomed with McDavid in Edmonton and is now with the New Jersey Devils. “Maybe it’s just the age gap; kids have forgotten about ‘Slap Shot.'” (Hall, by the way, is only five years older than McDavid.)
McDavid followed Eberle’s orders last season. His review: “It was great. It was hilarious. It was really, really funny. I like the whole opening scene when he’s talking about how hungover he is.”
At least McDavid has an excuse. “Actually, my parents never wanted me to see it when I was a kid,” McDavid said. “By then all of my buddies had seen it, and they didn’t want to watch it again. We did spend a lot of time on the bus, and they always played it on the bus, but I never really paid attention to it.”
The R-rated slapstick comedy is a staple on the junior hockey circuit for long bus rides. Everyone remembers their first time.
“I was in peewee, 11 or 12,” Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby said. “We were going up from Lafleche in Saskatchewan. It was seven hours straight from where we were without a single town in between. There were some parents who weren’t too happy about that.”
“How can you not love it, right?” Hall said. “‘Slap Shot’ is a classic. It’s actually hilarious. It’s ahead of its time. I probably don’t even realize what a big movie star Paul Newman was at the time.”
There is silver lining for McDavid: He might not be alone.
“You guys are going to think this is crazy, but I don’t think I ever saw the full movie,” Capitals winger T.J. Oshie confessed. “But I just tell people I’ve seen it. It’s easier that way.”