Canceling hockey amid a global pandemic was the socially responsible thing to do, I remind myself regularly. In the absence of watching actual games, I've been re-watching some movies with hockey themes. The first one I bring to you is the heartwarming, comedic, and frequently violent, story of Doug Glatt in the movie Goon.
Doug (Seann William Scott) is a pretty simple man, not very smart but very strong. His strength and fighting ability make him the perfect bouncer for a local bar in his Massachusetts hometown. While he has ample ability in brute strength, Doug has a very simple moral code and does not like to hurt anyone unless they are cruel to his family or friends. One evening his best friend, Jay, brings him to a local hockey game. When a player from the opposing team is put into the penalty box, the home fans start heckling the player, who in turn yells back and even jumps into the crowd. The player uses a homophobic term that Doug finds insulting to a family member and, when the player continues to use the term, Doug knocks the player out. The home team coach notices Doug's strength and this begins his career as a hockey player.
Before long Doug is moved up to a minor league team and begins to play for the Halifax Highlanders as an enforcer, or "goon." Doug's role as enforcer means he is sent into the rink to handle retaliation when members of the opposing team are too aggressive with his teammates. This is a perfect job for Doug, a man who takes seriously the role of defending friends and family. Doug also comes from a family full of doctors and is happy to have finally found a place where he fits in. He soon learns that the team he has joined is very unorganized. Each teammate has personal issues they can't seem to keep off of the ice and out of the locker room, causing them to lose game after game. Doug may not be the best hockey player, or the smartest man in the room, but it becomes obvious that the compassion and devotion he has for his team is desperately needed and could help steer the team back on course.
Adapted from the true story of Doug Smith, who played minor league hockey from 1988-1998, Goon is a great example of some of the feel-good stories that come out of hockey. This is one of the top movies I come back to in order to get my hockey fix in the off-season and during the understandable cancellation of sports at this time.