Odd Man Rush

Not everyone’s path to the NHL is a traditional one. Sometimes when you are not drafted you play college then go off to a European league hoping to get noticed by an NHL scout. Such is the case for Bobby Sanders (Jack Mulhern – from television’s The Society). The native New Yorker who lived and breathed hockey growing up goes to school at Harvard and plays hockey there. Some bad luck comes his way as the goal scoring forward has some injuries which makes him fall off the radar. So he goes off to play in Europe. His German team trades him for the money to buy a new washer/dryer set to a team in northern Sweden.

First person he runs into while waiting for his new coach to pick him up is a young woman who works at the local grocery store. She catches his eye and he does what any guy his age would do – he acts awkward.

Bobby’s persistence pays off and he and Elin (Electra Kilbey – first film) start dating. The relationship between the two end up going better than his team is doing. All this makes him reevaluate what he is doing with his life.

Not your typical sports film in that it focuses mostly on choice vs. passion vs. dreams. Not the game itself. Oh, there are plenty of locker room and on ice scenes, but they are just a means to an end. A pure coming of age story.

Bobby has always dreamt of being an NHL player. It is all he has ever wanted in life. Injuries and a new relationship has made him question whether he has to be realistic about it. Think about whether it is ever going to happen and if he should think about something else in life.

Film is based on a memoir by Bill Keenan. This is a film filled with some laughs and a ton of oddball characters. Most of the time things are kept rather light with the real cerebral or emotional stuff coming in the last 15 minutes or so.

In the end it was a film which surprised me. Initially I thought it was going to be a painful watch with low production values. But its heart and humour won me over. That plus the fact that it does not take itself too seriously. I ended up liking the retro feel and looking forward to the times the lead character broke the 4th wall.

True hockey fans should keep their eyes peeled by appearances by one of the current NHL owners, an NHL referee, and someone from the Gretzky and Lemieux families.

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