'Slap Shot' screening cures hockey blues

Music Box Theatre will host screening of classic hockey movie

The prospect of a winter without pucks draws closer to reality as each day concludes without movement in the NHL's labor dispute.

Enthusiasts of the most electric spectator sport in the world gradually have moved away from disgust and anger to a feeling of helplessness and resignation. Locally, the Stanley Cup championship the Blackhawks copped roughly 29 months back now feels like a lifetime ago.

Cheer up. The Tribune's events department has created an extravaganza which, at least for one night, is guaranteed to make a hockey fan's sadness disappear.

Next Thursday, the Music Box Theatre at 3733 N. Southport, will present a restored 35mm print of "Slap Shot," accompanied by a panel discussion with Trib movie critic Michael Phillips and resident wiseguy Steve Rosenbloom. Beer and wine will be served. Several hundred balding, scruffy-faced men with ample bellies will scratch themselves and loudly race each other to the punch lines in one of the greatest "guy movies" ever produced.

Rosenbloom, a top-shelf media "rat hockey" player (a left-handed stick who handles the point with precision), contends "Slap Shot" is the greatest sports movie of all time. Phillips differs. The two will drop the mitts over the issue. I'll be third man in and assist Rosenbloom if he wobbles.

Given the state of despair among Chicagoland puckheads, I couldn't imagine a more palatable antidote.

For a few hours, Blackhawks fans can park their Stan Bowman-phobia and enjoy how general manager Joe McGrath (Strother Martin) served as architect of the Charlestown Chiefs, the toughest team in the Federal League. You think Bowman has put the Blackhawks' massage table up for sale yet? The skate sharpener?

Those who would forfeit a day's pay to hear Pat Foley's voice for three hours can forget about it and get reacquainted with spunky Chiefs play-by-play man Jim Carr. "I thought that went well."

Who cares if another year goes by with questions about Corey Crawford remaining unanswered? We can count on Denis Lemieux (Yvon Barrette) deftly going post to post as the Chiefs make their march to the playoffs. "I go to Florida and get the money."

It's a night to forget about Patrick Kane's fraternity-house indiscretions and just enjoy Ned Braden (Michael Ontkean) board an over-served Nick Brophy(John Gofton) of the hated Presidents. "He's plastered!"

Missing the lovely Ice Girls at the United Center? Nothing better for "nice talk" than a night with Mo Wanchuk (Brad Sullivan) at the Icetravaganza. Like Mo, I prefer the uniforms cut a little higher on the thigh. Unlike Mo, I've never been to the Palm Isle or enjoyed the company of an underwater specialist.

A Hawks fan's concern over Marian Hossa's recovery from a concussion suffered in the playoff loss to Phoenix can be parked for a night. All anybody needs is for Dave "Killer" Carlson (Jerry Houser) to get over the cold he claims he got starting his car without wearing a jacket. It settled down in his kidneys.

"Dave's a mess."

The Hansons. Ohhh, the Hansons. They remain folk heroes. Most criminals started out as folk heroes. Reggie Dunlop (Paul Newman) wouldn't tell a lie.

I'm among those who believe things go better on ice at the United Center. With no chance to buy a ticket to a Blackhawks game, I'm getting one for the fashion show featuring the Chiefs. "You look nice, son. Real spiffy."

It's time to put on the foil. Time to see the boys out there on the ice giving their all. Defending the honor of Charlestown.

The Music Box next Thursday morphs into the War Memorial for a few glorious hours. I hope somebody hires an ambulance to put on the siren and circle.

Yes, Jim Carr, there indeed is an air of expectancy.

Special contributor Dan McNeil hosts "The McNeil and Spiegel Show" weekdays from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. on WSCR-AM 670.

CHICAGO

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