While Vancouver fans have quickly grown to love new Vancouver Canucks coach Bruce Boudreau for his role in jumpstarting the team, many likely don’t know about his part in one of the most iconic sports films of all time.
The movie: The 1977 hockey comedy classic Slap Shot, starring Paul Newman as the player-coach of a struggling hockey team in a dying factory town.
The film was shot in Johnstown, Penn., in 1976, where Boudreau was playing for the now-defunct North American Hockey League’s Johnstown Jets at the time.
The timing gave Boudreau, along with several other Jets, a shot at some Hollywood screen time.
“It wasn’t a cameo, it was a starring role,” Boudreau quipped at a recent media availability.
“It was a great experience. Who would have thought in 1976 when we were doing the movie that it would become the iconic classic that it is today. I was just lucky enough to play on the Johnstown Jets.”
While Boudreau didn’t have any lines in the film, some of his teammates on the Jets did. The legendary (and legendarily violent) ‘Hanson Brothers’ that appear in the film were played by real-life Jets Dave Hanson and Steve and Jeff Carlson.
Boudreau’s involvement in the movie didn’t stop at his on-ice appearances.
His Johnstown apartment was used as Newman’s home when director George Roy Hill learned it was the messiest among his teammates.
“(He) came in the dressing room and said, ‘Who’s got the sloppiest, messiest apartment in the team?’ And everybody stood up and pointed to me,” Boudreau said.
“So I was the lucky one to get the recipient of Paul Newman and the dog sleeping on my bed.”
Boudreau also got to meet the film’s star in what may have been his first attempt at coaching, when he was asked to teach Newman how to do a slap shot.
“Quite frankly, he wanted me just to show him how to shoot,” Boudreau said.
“I went into a 10-minute diatribe on how to do something. He went, ‘OK, that’s enough kid.’ It brings back great memories.”