If every NHL team's season can be seen as an entertainment product -- like, say, a movie -- then surely it should be reviewed as such. And while Screen Shots is tempted to publish a mini-manifesto on the conceptual similarities between the Chicago Blackhawks and any Fellini film, we realize that might lose a few readers.
In lieu of such a rant, we've decided to identify which actual movie titles best summarize each of the 30 NHL teams' 2005-06 campaign. We've also sought out professional movie reviews that, though first intended for each particular movie, also apply to the domain of Gary Bettman's Guaranteed Moneymaking Machine.
Anaheim Mighty Ducks
Summary: A kinder, older gent (Brian Burke) teaches the Ducks how to pick up their game.
Real Review: "Presented with such enthusiastic abandon that it's easy to get caught up in the proceedings." -- Sean McBride, Sean The Movie Guy
Summary: Young men in the Georgia area attempt to leave their less-than-impressive past behind, and make a run at stardom. Unfortunately, GM Don Waddell's attempt at inspiration -- a playoff guarantee -- doesn't translate into enough wins to make it.
Real Review: "There's a lot that's right about [it]. But the things that are wrong are simply fatal." -- John Anderson, Newsday
Movie: Ice Age -- The Meltdown
Summary: Another wasted Bruins season features the trading of captain Joe Thornton, who goes on to finish No. 2 in league scoring. GM Mike O'Connell pays the price for ownership's meddling, losing his job before the season ends.
Real Review: "Forgettable, completely harmless, sporadically amusing, and not at all ready to go up against the real masters." -- Dustin Putman, THEMOVIEBOY.COM
Movie: The Ice Harvest
Summary: Two men (Darcy Regier and Lindy Ruff) hatch a plan to strike it rich. Nobody pays them much attention, but that's the way they prefer it.
Real Review: "Exceedingly well made." -- J. Hoberman, The Village Voice
Movie: Blood Work
Summary: Flames coach-GM Darryl Sutter demands two things from his players, both of which can be found in the title of the movie.
Real Review: "Populated by hard-edged characters who brighten up a somewhat mechanical plot." -- Kirk Honeycutt, Hollywood Reporter
Movie: Thank You For Smoking
Summary: In the heart of cigarette-making country, the shockingly superb Canes prove you needn't inhale to smoke the rest of the NHL.
Real Review: "Much of the fun ... comes from its letter-perfect casting." -- Carla Meyer, Sacramento Bee
Movie: Good Night, and Good Luck
Summary: A quaint look back into yesteryear, when men dared to fight the establishment over their backwards, restrictive ways. Ahem.
Real Review: "A travesty." -- Phil Hall, Film Threat
Movie: Rocky Road
Summary: The Avs' season was cruising along swimmingly until GM Pierre Lacroix rolled the dice in a big way, acquiring highly paid underachiever Jose Theodore from Montreal. Now, there's no assurance the team will even make the playoffs.
Real Review: "May have been created out of good intentions, but then again, there's that old adage about a certain road being paved with such intentions." -- Ted Murphy, BASELINE.HOLLYWOOD.COM
Columbus Blue Jackets
Movie: Two For The Money
Summary: Rick Nash and Nikolai Zherdev show why they're worth the price of admission in an otherwise lackluster production.
Real Review: "Falls somewhere on that aesthetic scale between mediocre and flat-out bad." -- Rick Groen, The Globe and Mail
Movie: Glory Road
Summary: With the help of its inspiring coach, a Texas-based team overcomes the doubters to challenge for a championship.
Real Review: "All involved with the project play the game with enthusiasm and purpose, which is all we really require from a committed team." -- Terry Lawson, Detroit Free Press
Detroit Red Wings
Summary: With no small help from coach Mike Babcock, GM Ken Holland's charges demonstrate that perennial powerhouses in the Old NHL can still thrive in the New NHL.
Real Review: "Elegant, intelligent ... a breed increasingly rare." -- David Rooney, Variety
Movie: Friends With Money
Summary: Despite bringing in high-priced players, such as Chris Pronger and Michael Peca, the Oilers find themselves in a familiar spot: in a dogfight just to make the postseason.
Real Review: "Offers an agreeable grazing menu ... but doesn't end up feeling like a full meal." -- Todd McCarthy, Variety
Movie: Bright Young Things
Summary: Injuries and inconsistency hurt the Panthers early in the year, but a late-season surge shows GM Mike Keenan is on the right track with his group of young, developing talents.
Real Review: "Begins unsteadily, but finds its feet and grows." -- James Verniere, Boston Herald
Los Angeles Kings
Summary: A promising start to the year is wrecked by a torrent of injuries -- for the third straight season -- to the Kings' most important players. Coach Andy Murray lost his job because of it and GM Dave Taylor could be next.
Real Review: "For the over-initiated, it smacks of been-there, done-that." -- Jeanne Aufmuth, Palo Alto Weekly
Movie: The Song Remains The Same
Summary: The Wild will finish the year in the bottom five of the Western Conference in goals-for and in the top five in goals-allowed. Sound familiar?
Real Review: "Seemingly interminable ... with some good moments." -- Ken Hanke, Asheville (N.C.) Mountain Xpress
Movie: Fantastic Four
Summary: How Bob Gainey, Cristobal Huet, Chris Higgins and Alexei Kovalev powered the Canadiens back into the postseason.
Real Review: "A cinematic sugar buzz." -- Roger Moore, Orlando Sentinel
Movie: The Beautiful Country
Summary: A collection of good ol' boys convince Southerners a foreign sport can be just as much fun as the NASCAR-palooza locals are used to.
Real Review: "A touching story built on conflict: emotional, cultural and physical." -- Jeff Strickler, Minneapolis Star Tribune
New Jersey Devils
Movie: Hustle & Flow
Summary: A chronicle of Lou Lamoriello's blueprint to pull the up-and-down Devils back from the brink of disaster (i.e., missing the playoffs for the first time since 1996).
Real Review: "Uses its street smarts to show that dreams come in all shapes and sizes and that their realization sometimes is preceded by nightmares." -- Larry Rodgers, Arizona Republic
New York Islanders
Summary: A grizzled, veteran leader (Mike Milbury) directs a group of (mostly) brave men into a world they are wholly unprepared to handle.
Real Review: "The performances are awful ... the violence is gratuitous, the lighting is bad and I have my doubts that catering truck was even up to snuff on this project." -- Richard Roeper, Ebert & Roeper
New York Rangers
Movie: Nine Lives
Summary: The tale of how GM Glen Sather survived long enough to guide the Rangers to a tremendous season.
Real Review: "Some parts are stronger than others, but as a fleshed-out artistic vision, [it] works remarkably well." -- Eleanor Ringel Gillespie, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Movie: Take The Lead
Summary: A suave and debonair teacher (er, Bryan Murray) shows a group of youngsters how to set the stage on fire with slick moves and various combinations of "jazz hands."
Real Review: "An unabashed crowd pleaser that gets the job done." -- Steve Schneider, Orlando Weekly
Movie: A History Of Violence
Summary: GM Bob Clarke acquires noted roughnecks Mike Rathje, Derian Hatcher and Denis Gauthier, continuing in his tradition of casting the Flyers as a collection of softies.
Real Review: "Always engaging, but not quite convincing." -- Gary Thompson, Philadelphia Daily News
Movie: The Great Raid
Summary: New coach Wayne Gretzky wastes no time in completely overhauling his roster with a blizzard of trades and call-ups. It's still not good enough to get them into the playoffs, though.
Real Review: "Amounts to a noble failure." -- Wesley Morris, The Boston Globe
Movie: Must Love Dogs
Summary: Although some of the cast is world renowned for their prodigious talents, the results leave much to be desired.
Real Review: "Its flaws are patently obvious and they aren't pretty." -- Jeanne Aufmuth, Palo Alto Weekly
St. Louis Blues
Movie: The Benchwarmers
Summary: Coach Mike Kitchen attempts to coax a Bad News Bears-type season out of a collection of journeymen and NHL neophytes. He gets the Bad News part down pat, but nothing more.
Real Review: "These guys should have stayed on the bench." -- Nell Minow, "Movie Mom At Yahoo! Movies"
San Jose Sharks
Movie: How To Deal
Summary: Sharks GM Doug Wilson teaches then-Bruins GM Mike O'Connell the same lesson a lot of ex-GMs have learned the hard way.
Real Review: "Sustained by strong central performances and by its depth." -- Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times
Tampa Bay Lightning
Movie: Walk The Line
Summary: Got a problem heeding the wishes of coach John Tortorella? Tell it to somebody who could care less, bub. Torts certainly couldn't.
Real Review: "A lot less interesting than it might be." -- David Denby, New Yorker
Toronto Maple Leafs
Movie: Sliding Down
Summary: A documentary whose subjects begin the film on an icy peak, only to see things go downhill from there.
Real Review: "I have a sneaking suspicion that [this] is a huge put-on, the latest jape from Christopher Guest and his merry band of mockumentary tricksters." -- MaryAnn Johanson, Flick Filosopher
Movie: Failure To Launch
Summary: A big-ticket, big-name team panders to its ego and meanders through the second half of the season, more than likely resulting in the Canucks missing the playoffs.
Real Review: "How, exactly, did an idea with this much star power ... manage to misfire?" -- Peter Howell, Toronto Star
Movie: Awesome -- I Shot That!
Summary: On a desperate Capitals team, the lone pleasure comes in watching superior rookie Alexander Ovechkin marvel and rejoice at his own unbelievable goals.
Real Review: "Get ready to be shaken and stirred." -- Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
Material from The Hockey News.
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