Reggie Dunlop (Paul Newman), left, and Ned Braden (Michael Ontkean) of the Charlestown Chiefs. (Universal/Getty Images)
The Fictitious Athlete Hall of Fame named its class of 2014, and Reggie Dunlop and the Hanson Brothers didn’t make the cut. We count down the five best hockey players from the silver screen.
Where do the greatest movie athletes go when they retire? Why, the Fictitious Athlete Hall of Fame, of course. This year, not a single hockey player was amongst the class.
Instead, baseball’s film greats received induction, as Crash Davis, Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn, Roy Hobbs, and, as a contributor, announcer Harry Doyle all make their way into the fictitious Hall. Left out in the cold are several of hockey’s greatest players from the silver screen including Reggie Dunlop, the Hanson Brothers, and Gordon Bombay.
While the premise is (admittedly) ridiculous, it got us to thinking: who are the greatest fictitious hockey players of all-time? And no, Taro Tsujimoto doesn’t count.
5. Adam Banks, The Mighty Ducks
Banks was the best player on the Mighty Ducks, hands down.
There are those that may argue it until they’re blue in the face, but let’s be serious about a very ridiculous thing for a second: had the Mighty Ducks team been real, there was only one player that stood any chance of making the NHL, and it was Banks. Conway could have been a coach, but that's probably where he tops out.
When the Ducks went to Eden Hall Academy, Banks played with the rival varsity squad while the rest of the team was stuck on the lesser junior varsity team. He was a step ahead of the rest of the Ducks.
4. Xavier Laflamme, Goon
The thing we can hold onto with Laflamme is that he actually had some sort of tangible statistic to hang on to, that being that he was drafted second overall by the Montreal Corsairs.
However, as the plot of the movie goes, he was playing in the minors following a hit from Ross 'The Boss' Rhea that left him with a fear of getting hit and it pretty much robbed Laflamme of his talent. When Doug Glatt, the movie's protagonist, shows up, things turn around for Laflamme and he is the best player on the ice game in and game out.
3. Reggie Dunlop, Slap Shot
In the same vein as Conway, Dunlop was the inspirational leader of a team of misfits that overcame the odds to become successful.
Dunlop was a throwback to a time when the player-coach could exist, and was diabolical in turning things around for the lowly Charlestown Chiefs. He made three goons, the lovable Hanson Brothers, into effective players, changed the team’s identity, helped them sell tickets, and manufactured an entire story about the team moving to Florida just to motivate the players.
If there was anyone that should have owned the Chiefs, it was Dunlop.
2. Dean Youngblood, Youngblood
It’s hard to judge the talent of players that never played at the pinnacle of the game, but at least we know that Youngblood was on his way to making the show. You don’t score 92 goals in the fictional New York League and not translate that to talent elsewhere.
What puts Youngblood ahead of Conway, Banks, and Dunlop is that we had some tangible stats for what he was able to accomplish. Most of Banks’ goals game against other children, while Youngblood played serious competition on his way to a Memorial Cup championship.
While he loses points for his stick-jousting fight against opponent Carl Racki, Youngblood gains them for being the second best scorer when it comes to theatrical puck.
1. Ned Braden, Slap Shot
There has never been a player quite like Braden in hockey film history. He was smarter than any of the players in the Federal League, had a future ahead of him, wasn’t fooled by Reggie Dunlop’s tricks, and made a mockery of the entire situation. While he may not have been the best away from the rink, he definitely was the only player on a bad Chiefs team that could really score goals.
Of all the Chiefs, Braden is also really the only player who has any reputation for being a star player. He came to the Chiefs from the NCAA, where he was the star of the squad from Princeton. Unlike any of the other goal scorers on this list, too, he was the only one that did it against grown men.
Honorable mention: Charlie Conway, The Mighty Ducks: Conway fails to make the list because he wasn’t necessarily the most skilled player on the Mighty Ducks. While he was the leader and the player the team rallied around in every installment of the series, he wasn’t the go-to goal scorer. That doesn’t, however, make him the greatest fictitious hockey player of all-time.
Honorable mention also goes to the Hanson Brothers (Jack, Steve, Jeff) and Doug Glatt. Though they provided us with the most comic relief, they weren’t what you would call star players. They are, however, the biggest fan favorites.