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Amodern 3: Sport and Visual Culture
October 2014


Incorporating the "Other" within Canadian Hockey Films

Russell Field

Narratives of hockey have frequently been mobilized to stand in for Canadian-ness, a seemingly inclusive national identity grounded in the sport’s association with a northern climate. The sport has been called the “Canadian metaphor,” a “national religion,” and an image of a game being played by children on a frozen pond adorns the $5 bill.1 This national image, however, is most often white, male, and middle class (with the Anglo-French divide the most obvious marker of diversity). There is little mainstream interrogation of what Michael Buma labels, in his study of hockey novels, Canada’s “hockey myth.”2

In cinematic terms, David Battistella’s 2001 Shinny: The Hockey in All of Us (produced by the National Film Board of Canada) is emblematic of the filmic use of hockey’s stereotypical tropes. The feature-length documentary portrays hockey being played outdoors in a number of what are suggested to be universally Canadian locales, from a suburban backyard rink lovingly created and maintained by a dedicated father to a frozen pond in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains. “There is something to be said for the argument that hockey draws on and dramatizes the Canadian experience with long winters, the cold and large open spaces,” note Richard Gruneau and David Whitson. But “the problem arises when Canadians’ appreciation for hockey is mistaken for ‘nature’ rather than for something that is socially and culturally produced.”3 Indeed, cultural critics and scholars have debated the extent and contested nature of the “all” in “us” that Battistella chooses for his title. Mainstream Canadian filmmakers however – both in fictional and documentary films – have been slower to take up this critique.

It would be easy to assume that hockey as a subject matter has played a significant role within Canadian popular cinema. And while there are certainly some iconic films – the animation of Roch Carrier’s short story, The Hockey Sweater (1980, directed by Sheldon Cohen), comes to mind, as does the financially successful, Les Boys franchise (the first of the three films was released in 1997 and directed by Louis Saïa, who also directed episodes of the subsequent eponymous television series), and more recently the Maurice Richard biopic, The Rocket (2005, directed by Charles Binamé) – these examples are representative of French-Canadian cultural production. Even in television, hockey has “scored” best as a narrative fulcrum in Quebec. The short-lived television series “He Shoots, He Scores” (1986-88; although subsequent productions have revisited the characters) was notable not only for its ratings success in Quebec, but also because it was the first Canadian television series to be produced in both French and English and broadcast simultaneously (by CBC and Radio-Canada). The series, however, did poorly in English Canada: the final episode of the second season drew 2.7 million francophone viewers on Radio-Canada but was so poorly watched on the CBC that the network declined to air an English version of the third season.4 While English-Canadian films, as Gene Walz suggests, have long used hockey as a device around which to structure their narratives within the Canadian context, few of these have become culturally iconic in the ways that American sport-themed films have become – from Raging Bull and Rocky to Field of Dreams and Bull Durham.5

There have been English-language Canadian hockey films that challenged mainstream ideals. A recent example that drew critical if not box-office acclaim is Breakfast with Scot (2007). The film features a gay former player reconciling his sexuality with public perceptions of hockey players, although the plot reproduces, in albeit novel ways, the tropes of heterosexual “guys having fatherhood thrust upon them only to realize they enjoy it” narratives. But the film is also remarkable in that it was the first openly gay production to be allowed by the NHL to use its trademarks, in this case the jersey and logo of the Toronto Maple Leafs.6 Regardless of such examples, many popular hockey-themed films familiar to movie theatre-goers – Slap Shot, Mystery, Alaska, Miracle, or the Mighty Ducks franchise – are Hollywood productions set in the U.S. Despite this, Walz asserts that “Hockey movies … are a distinct genre in Canada (where there are no other sports movies).”7 While Walz is wrong about the absence of non-hockey sport movies, Globe and Mail film critic Kate Taylor makes an alternate contention that “Deep in the heart of the Canadian film industry burns a desire for the Hockey Movie, the one that will put the puck into the artistic net and score a commercial victory that will bring both fans and critics to their feet.”8

This paper is a consideration, within this cinematic context, of two recent Canadian-produced feature films: Score: A Hockey Musical and Breakaway. These increase the number of English-Canadian films that use hockey as a narrative centrepiece. Concurrently, in the Canadian sporting landscape, decreasing registration numbers in recreational hockey programs across Canada are being explained by rising costs, growing parental concerns for their children’s safety, and, despite some change in this regard, the participation of relatively few non-white players.9 In such a context, these films seek to broaden the boundaries of the cultural identities that typically access hockey as a touchstone. Whether these boundaries are expanded to be more inclusive or alternate identities are framed within the mainstream is the issue that lies at the heart of this analysis.

The significance of these two films is that they were released at a time when English-Canadian cinema was on sure enough footing to consider using hockey as a theme to ensure a successful domestic theatrical release. Score was chosen as the opening-night film of the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), a rare honour for a sport- or hockey-themed film. Moreover, given their seeming appeals to a broader sense of Canadian identity through hockey, both were released at a time when the cinematic landscape was also populated by high-profile fiction (e.g., Goon, 2011, directed by Michael Dowse) and documentary (e.g., The Last Gladiators, 2011, directed by Alex Gibney) feature films. Goon was the top-grossing Canadian English-language film of 2012, topping $4 million in domestic box receipts, despite some critics being “put off by the realistic violence depicted on the screen.”10 (Breakaway, by comparison, with less than $1.5 million in receipts, did considerably poorer at the box office.) Such mainstream portrayals of hockey concurrently reified violence in hockey – despite the growing societal questioning of this, discussed below – while reaffirming the narratives of hegemonic masculinity and whiteness most commonly associated with the sport in Canada.

Hockey in Canadian culture and film

The collective celebration of hockey in Canada is dominated by a number of literary treatments that stake out a deeper appreciation of the sport. One of the best known of this genre is Ken Dryden’s The Game.11 With a narrative framed around a season played in the late-1970s by Dryden’s team, the Montreal Canadiens, The Game offers insight into the world of professional hockey as well as an insider’s appreciation of the game’s significance to Canadians. Six years later, Dryden broadened his lens to include hockey in a variety of local, professional, and international settings in Home Game, written with well-known journalist, Roy MacGregor.12

While rightly praised for the perspective they bring to their subject, cultural observers such as Dryden as well as hockey’s popular historians, privilege the game’s essential position as a shared cultural experience.13 While at times questioning elements of hockey’s contemporary organization and articulation – such as Dryden’s critique of violence in hockey, discussed below – they assert the game’s centrality to Canadian culture and identity. The late journalist, Peter Gzowski, in The Game of Our Lives, called hockey “the common Canadian coin” while recalling that he “would sometimes imagine one great outdoor hockey game, stretching from just inside the Rockies to the shores of the Atlantic.”14 Noted Canadian author Morley Callaghan, in an essay titled “The Game That Makes A Nation,” was moved to observe, using a now-arcane notion of “race” – Canada’s anglophone and francophone “races” – that “hockey does more for the racial unity of this country than all the speeches of all the politicians who ever pointed with pride at Ottawa.”15

These popular and literary treatments essentially intertwine the history and presumed cultural significance of hockey in Canada with the emerging commercial dominance of the National Hockey League (NHL) and, its championship trophy, the Stanley Cup, in a narrative both unquestioned and seemingly inescapable. There are few alternative visions, little sense that the consolidation of the NHL’s hegemony over hockey in the first half of the twentieth century was neither inevitable nor beneficial. These histories entrench what Bruce Kidd calls hockey’s position “as one of the eternal verities of Canadian life,” while at the same time, as Gamal Abdel Shehid argues, believing “foreignness, and alternative masculinities, [to be] united and positioned against hockey.”16

There is a smaller, but growing oeuvre of critical scholarship on hockey as a cultural form of social and economic importance and on the early organization of the NHL.17 Gruneau and Whitson’s Hockey Night in Canada is the widest ranging socio-historical analysis to-date of the game’s cultural meanings within the Canadian context. Arguing that popular accounts of hockey in Canadian culture gloss “over too many differences in Canadians’ experiences – differences rooted in racial, ethnic, class, and gender relations,” Gruneau and Whitson tackle issues as diverse yet interrelated as masculinity and violence, community development, and the historical evolution of Canadian sport.18

Canadian filmmakers have been slower to use hockey as a narrative device in ways that go beyond affirming myths of national identity.19 Similar claims have been made about film scholarship and sport (including hockey). “While other genres (musicals, westerns, thrillers, gangster, sci-fi, horror, and detective movies) have been rigorously examined and theorized,” Walz argues, “sports movies have not attracted much scholarly or critical attention.”20 While this may be the case in disciplines such as film studies with which Walz is most familiar, in the North American context his assertion is at best overstated. Walz does note that among sport films, “baseball, boxing, and football stories still dominate the genre.” These particular sports, which are central to constructions of American (masculine) national identity, and specifically the films in which they have been featured have been the subject of considerable examination by American (and other) sports studies scholars.21 Walz’s assessment is more on the mark when considering the absence of similar examinations of Canadian sport (hockey) films, but this too is beginning to change.22 Regardless, Walz concludes that though underexamined, sport films “are now a staple of the North American movie industries.” Indeed, two recent Canadian hockey films received attention from the mainstream film media upon their theatrical release.

Scoring on screen:
Re-presenting hockey masculinity

As the title makes clear, Score: A Hockey Musical (2010, directed by Michael McGowan) is a sport film wrapped in the guise of a musical. Complete with a title that has multiple allusions – sporting, musical, and sexual – Score is the story of Farley Gordon. In a particularly Canadian and genre-specific take on The Natural, Bernard Malamud’s classic 1952 novel, which was turned into a feature film in 1984 (with a revised, happier ending) starring Robert Redford and directed by Barry Levinson. Although neither a musical nor a comedy, The Natural’s protagonist, Roy Hobbs, is a gifted but undiscovered baseball prodigy who loses his innocence when he encounters the modern, urban world, represented in part by professional sport.

In Score, Farley is a “naturally” gifted hockey player, dominant in neighbourhood pick-up games and happy if seemingly naïve outside the mainstream hockey establishment. Home-schooled by new-age parents who abhor sport, Farley prefers skill to violence and when recruited for a pro team dismays both his coach and teammates by refusing to fight. Similar to The Natural, Farley falls under the spell of one siren – the allure of the celebrity that comes with public hockey stardom – while another purer woman (his neighbour Eve, literally the “first woman”) attempts to protect him from his inevitable fall from grace: succumbing to hockey’s baser instincts and fighting.

Score is a fairly formulaic film, in the tradition of teen angst/love wins out rom-coms. The iconoclastic hero, Farley, is a misfit whose transgressions from the mainstream (in this case, his unwillingness to fight and engage in the violence expected of the elite hockey player) only serve to reaffirm his inherent goodness. His best friend, confidant, and, to all eyes but Farley’s, love interest, Eve, supports Farley until his fascination with his own stardom forces her to confront the (literally) boy next door. It is only through first Eve’s support and then her subsequent withdrawal of this that Farley is able to navigate a world that celebrates and rewards his obvious hockey skills but that also withholds its ultimate sanctification until Farley drops his objections to violence and drops his gloves to fight. When Farley eventually finds another way – a way of playing the game he loves without fighting and still winning the admiration of his teammates – he proves himself worthy of both the audience’s respect and Eve’s love.

While Score might seem essential Canadiana, it received a decidedly chilly reception from Canadian film critics. Rick Groen of the Globe and Mail called it “probably the worst film to ever open TIFF,” while Susan Cole of NOW Magazine felt that “Hockey nuts will hate the anti-violence theme, while musical lovers aren’t necessarily sports fans, and the film snobs might scoff.”23 They did. Jim Slotek of the Toronto Sun wrote that Score is “reminiscent of a community production of West Side Story on ice.”24

But it is more complicated than this. Rick Groen’s criticism of Score, that “maybe a Winnepegger will love it, but a Parisian or a Roman, who wouldn’t know a Zamboni from a zabaglione and is given no reason to care, assuredly will not” displays a Canadian fear of being seen as culturally provincial.25 And yet Score, for all of hockey’s pastoral frozen pond allusions, is a decidedly urban film. Toronto is a character in the film – from the familiar red-brick duplexes where Farley’s and Eve’s families reside to the Frank Gehry-designed expansion of the Art Gallery of Ontario that features in a rather farcical sequence when Eve convinces Farley that he must follow his dreams (which include playing competitive hockey, despite his parents’ objections) through a musical routine that involves the use of “tribal” masks plucked from their display cases.

What sets Score apart, however – at least on the surface – are the ways in which it plays with the genre expectations of sport films by invoking the elements and conventions of musical film. Rick Altman argues that what most importantly defines a musical is its having a “dual-focus narrative.”26 In such narratives, notes Margaret McFadden, “a central heterosexual couple must struggle against various obstacles to unite, overcoming their differences and reaching a compromise. This first focus is matched by a second, parallel one, in which the differences between the couple are simultaneously figured as differences between two competing value systems.”27 In Score, the musical elements narrate Farley’s and Eve’s negotiation of their denied mutual attraction as well as Farley’s struggles to retain his non-fighting hockey identity.

McFadden goes on to argue that musical films need to be understood within the context of their production. Her analysis of Astaire-Rogers films suggests that they “were so popular in the 1930s because they represented, and then symbolically managed, the social contradictions of the Great Depression.”28 Score was produced at a time of continuing debates over the ways in which hockey is played and the game’s cultural significance. Debates about violence and physicality in commercial hockey, the impacts of concussion, and high-profile incidents of suicide and pain-killer addiction among some of the sport’s better-known fighters have led in recent years to increasingly public calls for the banning of fighting in hockey, from Ken Dryden for instance.29

At such an historical moment, Score’s anti-fighting narrative seems less marginal, and its dalliance with these themes through the use of musical theatre less camp. Chris Jordan argues that reading Saturday Night Fever as embedded in the evolving nature of 1970s masculinity allows for the John Travolta film to be read as hyper-masculine, despite the main character’s preoccupation with personal appearance and his expressive dancing (traits that in another context might have been viewed as feminizing).30 Similarly, Score has an undercurrent of a “softer,” or alternate, masculinity, one that privileges skill over brute force. But whether this “new” masculine posture in hockey is fully transgressive in the contemporary hockey climate is debatable. The alternative or resistive element of Score is not found in its narrative structure, nor in its plot lines, but in the musical form in which they are presented.

But in the end, Farley’s acceptance by his teammates – even if this is occurs in a musical finale, with “a rinkful of choreographed, moose-sized hockey players singing about the code of fighting”31 – and the revelation of his feelings for Eve signals Score’s failure to disrupt the expectations of either romantic comedies or sport films. Despite the juxtaposition of hockey’s hyper-masculine culture with the tropes of musical cinema, Score ultimately fails to threaten the masculine, hetero-normative boundaries of commercial sport. Farley’s “victory,” being a part of the team without having to resort to violence, is a only a temporary triumph of camp over goon; hockey as a masculine institution emerges from Score celebrated and unscathed.

Breaking away from convention:
The hockey movie in multicultural Canada

If Score is an urban Canadian musical with allusions (if you are looking for them) to The Natural, another recent Canadian hockey film with musical elements, Breakaway (2011, directed by Robert Lieberman), also yields to a cinematic comparison. Despite Walz’s assertion that Score is “a clumsy attempt to do what Breakaway does more skillfully,” Score is a somewhat original take, while Breakaway is almost purely derivative. If you have seen Bend it Like Beckham, swap hockey for soccer, Sikh girl for boy, and working-class London for suburban Toronto, and you have Breakaway. The film bears a striking similarity to Bend it Like Beckham. Both begin with dream sequences where young protagonists imagine themselves scoring a crucial goal while playing for a mainstream sports team (Rajveer for the Toronto Maple Leafs, and Jess for Manchester United). Both Jess and Raj pursue somewhat hidden inter-racial love interests while their families are preoccupied by plans for a big Indian wedding. Like Jess, Rajveer has to earn his father’s acceptance while fighting for the opportunity to play sport when cultural values point in other directions: in Bend It Like Beckham those directions are inflected by gender, in Breakaway, the immigrant work ethic is invoked. In both films, the lead characters must stand up to a father who questions the value of sport. And, if the similarities were not striking enough, in both films, the character of the father is played by the same actor, Anupam Kher.

Much like Farley Gordon, Rajveer Singh is a pick-up hockey sensation, playing at a local rink with other Sikh-Canadians. He is the most talented of the bunch, and after a local semi-pro team, the Hammerheads, offers him a brief tryout as a pretense to embarrassing him, Raj convinces his friends to form an official team to enter a local tournament – where, as cinematic convention would have it, the Speedy Singhs (sponsored by Raj’s uncle’s trucking company, of the same name) face the Hammerheads for the championship. Raj’s initial failure to earn a spot on the Hammerheads is framed as a “racial injustice.” Slurs and ignorance are widespread as even one of the Speedy Singhs players dismisses their chances in the tournament by noting that “hockey is a white man’s game.” Although, in a post-multicultural Canada, such lines are meant to draw the audience to the side of the underdog, while collectively shouting “no, that’s not our Canada,” there is little in both the history of hockey and in its narrative construction to suggest that Raj’s teammate is wrong. The post-World War II decades were replete with immigrant success stories in the NHL, as non-Anglo Europeans and their children became Canadian hockey heroes. Names such as Terry Sawchuk, Stan Makita, Frank and Peter Mahovolich, Phil and Tony Esposito, and others became familiar to hockey fans in the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s. But as Robert Pitter argues, integration has been easier for southern and eastern Europeans as “hockey does not seem to have bridged the gap between whites and non-whites in Canada in the same way that it has done for whites of many different backgrounds.”32 The incorporation of white “others” within popular hockey culture is why Abdel Shehid argues that the Canadian hockey narrative needs to be re-written “thru race” for the “white core of hockey is … invested with notions of timelessness, historylessness, and, by extension, racelessness.”33

In Breakaway, the Speedy Singhs improbable yet also narratively inevitable march towards the tournament championship, is stalled when they are forced to abandon their turbans for helmets – in the name of on-ice safety. The ban recalls recent incidents in Quebec where ethnic “apparel” – the turban and the hijab – were temporarily banned by the provincial soccer organization over safety concerns.34 But the turban and the hair contained within it are markers of Sikh masculinity and Breakaway’s conflation of gender and race in this plot point is reminiscent of the struggle by Sikhs in Canada’s police forces to win the human right to wear turbans in place of regulation headwear.35 The Speedy Singhs refusal to wear helmets – risking forfeit of the championship game – provides the opportunity for Raj to resolve his various conflicts: banishment from the team, an unconsummated romance, and most importantly tension with his father. In a remarkably heavy-handed scene, Raj is taught the historical and cultural significance of the turban and its affirmation of Sikh manhood. Out of this are borne the stylized warrior helmets (a turban-hockey helmet combo) that the Speedy Singhs wear when they beat the Hammerheads.

There is nothing very surprising about Breakaway. The tensions are not particularly dramatic (and readily resolved), while the triumphs are sterile and predictable. “Throw in a few Bollywood dance numbers,” notes film critic Kate Taylor, “and you have a mess.”36 The reference to Bollywood is telling, as the largely Hindi film industry is used to help readers decode a movie about Sikh-Canadians who speak Punjabi and English. In this way hyphenated identities – Asian-Canadian, South Asian-Canadian, Indian-Canadian – are as likely to be applied as Sikh-Canadian, which both obscures difference and has the potential to broaden the appeal and reach of a film such as Breakaway. In reference to Bend it Like Beckham, Michael Giardina notes that such hybridized identities are “deployed within British popular culture as a means of politically and financially capitalizing on the multicultural fervor currently dominating mainstream discourse.”37

Breakaway’s unique position, if it has one, is not at a sport film – as noted, it is almost thoroughly derivative of the genre – but as Punjabi-Canadian sport film. A hyphenated identity of interest to Canada’s public broadcaster, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), who offer weekly “Hockey Night in Canada” telecasts in Punjabi and who also were involved in the production of Breakaway. Scherer and Whitson note the profitability of sport to CBC’s programming, but also the increasing challenges posed by digital and satellite services who can often outbid the public broadcaster.38 In this environment, one way in which the CBC attempts to stay relevant within its mandate has been to take those steps it believes will expand its audience base to fulfill its role, as set out in the 1991 Broadcasting Act, to contribute to a “shared national consciousness and identity,” without necessarily altering the core programming.39 This includes offering hockey play-by-play in Punjabi to the country’s 1.1 million Punjabi-speakers,40 a population that is largely urban – Punjabi is the most frequently reported home language among immigrants in Vancouver, and along with Tagalog, one of the two most common languages among immigrants in Calgary and Edmonton41 – and increasingly middle-class, if being able to afford the cost of playing hockey is an indication. Paul Carson, the vice president for hockey development with Hockey Canada, told the New York Times that “growth [in minor hockey enrollment] in this country is coming from immigration from a lot of non-hockey-playing countries. They’re coming from the Mideast, Africa, East and South Asia.”42

If the emphasis is on the production of markets, the interest is in this hyphenated identity, especially in the context of a civil society that touts multiculturalism as a distinctive feature of Canadian life. The cast may have changed, but the essential Canadian-ness suggested by hockey remains. The Speedy Singhs sing “O Canada” before their final game – and why wouldn’t they – while Score ends with the cast repeating the refrain, “hockey, hockey, the greatest game in the land.” Recent scholarship has sought to trouble the ways in which, in Canada, the “success” of multiculturalism is largely taken for granted.43 Nevertheless, Breakaway celebrates the successful immigrant; Raj becomes a hockey star, while through hard work his father and uncle reap financial rewards. Even though the film positions the first-generation father committed to work against his Canadian-born son more interested in recreation, the dichotomy is a false one. The reification of immigrants who work to “make something of themselves” is suspended when the challenge to this ethic is hockey. Ultimately, Raj is reunited with his father not because he gives up hockey, but because his father comes to see the game’s significance. Through victory the Speedy Singhs win their place within Canadian culture – for which hockey stands in – because of their accommodations, and not because this culture has been changed by their efforts.


Mary Louise Adams contends that “If hockey is life in Canada, then life in Canada remains decidedly masculine and white.”44 But this only highlights the “need to attend to hockey’s persistence as a central signifier of Canadianness,” especially if, as Walz notes, hockey films offer “a convenient system of conventions, language, and tropes that are recognizable across a national landscape.”45 As much as Breakaway and Score might suggest a widening of the boundaries of the Canadian national imaginary, they work to reinforce boundaries that if no longer white are still effectively middle class and predominantly masculine (Farley’s attempts to move the masculine bar aside). They perpetuate the ways in which hockey provides, as Adams asserts, “an opportunity to represent the nation in a way not open to women.”46 While the quadrennial profile of women’s Olympic hockey and the growth of girls’ recreational programs might be seen to temper Adams’ critique, hockey’s mainstream representations are still inherently masculine. And, as Pitter and Abdel Shadid have both argued, such representations are also racially limited, with the latter noting that, “To write about hockey,” and indeed to film it, “in the normative sense is to deploy these kids of exclusions, to not tolerate voices marked as different speaking back.”47 Breakaway’s racializing of hockey’s hyper-masculinity may be seen as offering Sikh-Canadian men this chance to represent the nation, much as Farley’s skill-based challenge to the physically violent nature of mainstream hockey may be read as speaking back to stereotypes. At best however, the opportunity that playing hockey offers to Farley and the Speedy Singhs is to participate in a normative pan-Canadian narrative rather than to expand its boundaries.

  1. Bruce Kidd and John Macfarlane, The Death of Hockey (Toronto: New Books, 1972), 4. 

  2. Michael Buma, Refereeing Identity: The Cultural Work of Canadian Hockey Novels (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2012), 5. 

  3. Richard Gruneau and David Whitson, Hockey Night in Canada: Sports, Identities, and Cultural Politics (Toronto: Garamond, 1993), 26. 

  4. Richard Collins, Culture, Communication, and National Identity: The Case of Canadian Television (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1990), 25. 

  5. Gene Walz, “Hockey Movies in the United State and Canada,” in Annekatrin Metz, Markus M. Muller, Lutz Schowalter, (Eds.), F(e)asting Fitness: Cultural Images, Social Practices, and Histories of Food and Health. A Fe(a)stschrift in Honor of Wolfgang Klooss (Trier: Wissenshaftlacher Verlag, 2013), 193-210. Previously unpublished manuscript shared by author, cited herein. 

  6. Katrina Onstad, “Five questions for … Laurie Lynd, director of Breakfast with Scot,” CBC News, 8 September 2007. 

  7. Walz, “Hockey Movies,” 10. 

  8. Kate Taylor, “Breakaway: An honest idea that went astray,” Globe and Mail, 30 September 2011, 

  9. Dan Ralph, “Canadian families shunning hockey, survey finds,” Globe and Mail, 1 August 2013,; Lindsey Craig, “Where are the minorities?,” CBC, 9 January 2009, 

  10. Clark Collis, “‘Goon’: The Rowdy True Story of a Hockey Enforcer,” Entertainment Weekly, 16 March 2012,,,20578459,00.html. Figures for box-office receipts are drawn from and 

  11. Ken Dryden, The Game: A reflective and thought-provoking look at life in hockey (Toronto: Macmillan, 1983). 

  12. Ken Dryden and Roy MacGregor, Home Game: Hockey and Life in Canada (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1989). 

  13. For popular histories of hockey, see, for example, the work of Brian McFarlane. 

  14. Michael P.J. Kennedy, Words on Ice: A Collection of Hockey Prose (Toronto: Key Porter Books, 2003) cited on 32, 30. 

  15. Kennedy, Words on Ice, cited on 25. 

  16. Bruce Kidd, The Struggle for Canadian Sport (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1996), 186; Gamal Abdel Shehid, “Writing Hockey Thru Race: Rethinking Black Hockey in Canada,” in Rinaldo Walcott, (Ed.), Rude: Contemporary Black Canadian Cultural Criticism (Toronto: Insomniac Press, 2000), 75. 

  17. In addition to Gruneau and Whitson, and Kidd, see Jamie Dopp and Richard Harrison, (Eds.), Now Is the Winter: Thinking about Hockey (Hamilton: Wolsack and Wynn, 2009); Richard Gruneau and David Whitson, (Eds.), Artificial Ice: Hockey, Culture, and Commerce (Peterborough: Broadview Press/Garamond Press, 2006); Andrew Holman, (Ed.), Canada’s Game: Hockey and Identity (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2009);; John Chi-Kit Wong, Lords of the Rinks: The Emergence of the National Hockey League, 1875-1936 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2005); John Chi-Kit Wong, (Ed.), Coast to Coast: Hockey in Canada to the Second World War (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2009). 

  18. Gruneau and Whitson, 26. 

  19. Dwayne Beaver’s The Rhino Brothers (2002) is as one exception. 

  20. Walz, “Hockey Movies,” 2. 

  21. See Aaron Baker, Contesting Identities: Sports in American Film (Urbana-Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2006); Ron Briley, Michael K. Schoenecke, and Deborah A. Carmichael, (Eds.), All-Stars and Movie Stars: Sports in Film and History (Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 2008); Sean Crosson, Sport and Film (London and New York: Routledge, 2013); C. Richard King and David J. Leonard, Visual Economies of/in Motion: Sport and Film (New York: Peter Lang, 2006); Emma Poulton and Martin Roderick, (Eds.), Sport in Films (London and New York: Routledge, 2008). 

  22. See for example, Russell Field, “Representing the Rocket: The filmic use of Maurice Richard in Canadian history,” Journal of Sport History, 41 (1), 2014, 15-28. 

  23. Rick Groen, “TIFF’s high-shticking breakaway,” Globe and Mail, 3 September 2010,; Susan G. Cole, Movie Review — Score: A Hockey Musical,” NOW Magazine, 30 (8), 21 October 2010, 

  24. Jim Slotek, “‘Score’ musical is pure camp,’ Toronto Sun, 22 October 2010, 

  25. Groen, “TIFF.” 

  26. Rick Altman, The American Film Musical (Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 1987), 16ff. 

  27. Margaret McFadden, “Shall we dance? Gender and class conflict in Astaire-Rogers dance musicals,” Women’s Studies, 37 (6), 2008, 680. 

  28. McFadden, “Shall we dance,” 704. 

  29. Ken Dryden “Ken Dryden on hockey violence: How could we be so stupid,” Globe and Mail, 11 March 2011,; Dryden’s missive preceded the summer where one-time on-ice tough guys Wade Belak, Derek Boogard, and Rick Rypien all died in circumstances of either suicide or pain killer abuse, brought on, some observers conjectured, by the brain trauma connected with hockey violence. See, for example, John Branch, “Hockey Players’ Deaths Post a Tragic Riddle,” New York Times, 1 September 2011, 

  30. Chris Jordan, “Gender and class mobility in Saturday Night Fever and Flashdance,” Journal of Popular Film & Television, 24 (3), 1996, 116-122. 

  31. Slotek, “‘Score’ musical.” 

  32. Robert Pitter, “Racialization and Hockey in Canada: From Personal Troubles to a Canadian Challenge,” in David Whitson and Richard Gruneau, (Ed.), Artificial Ice: Hockey, Culture, and Commerce (Peterborough: Garamond Press/Broadview Press, 2006), 129. 

  33. Abdel Shehid, “Writing Hockey,” 82. 

  34. Katherine DeClerq, “Quebec Soccer Federation schedules emergency meeting on turban ban,” Maclean’s Magazine, 11 June 2013, A similar issue regarding women’s sport participation and the hijab has also been the subject of a debate in international soocer. 

  35. Larissa Cahute, “Sikh Heritage Museum tells of turban’s troubled times in B.C.,” Vancouver Desi, n.d., 

  36. Taylor, “Breakaway.” 

  37. Michael D. Giardina, “‘Bending it Like Beckham’ in the Global Popular: Stylish Hybridity, Peformativity, and the Politics of Representation,” Journal of Sport and Social Issues, 27 (1), 2003, 66. 

  38. Jay Scherer and David Whitson, “Public broadcasting, sport, and cultural citizenship: The Future of Sport on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation?,” International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 44 (2/3), 2009, 213-29. 

  39. Cited in Lyle Dick, “Representing National History on Television,” in Zoë Druick and Aspa Kotsopoulos, (Eds.), Programming Reality: Perspectives on English-Canadian Television (Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2008), 17. In 2013, it was announced that CBC will no longer hold the rights to “Hockey Night in Canada,” for which the public broadcaster was outbid by Rogers Communications’ 12-year, $5.2 billion offer. For the first four years of the new deal, CBC will continue to broadcast Saturday night games, but will not have control over the production of the telecast. 

  40. David Sax, “A Punjabi Show Draws New Hockey Fans,” New York Times, 26 April 2013, According to Statistics Canada, Canadians who declared their religious affiliation, in 2011, 1.4% identified as Sikh. See “2011 National Household Survey,” Statistics Canada, 8 May 2013, 

  41. “Linguistic Characteristics of Canada,” Statistics Canada, October 2012, 

  42. Cited in Sax, “A Punjabi Show.” 

  43. E.g., May Chazan, Lisa Helps, Anna Stanley, and Sonai Thakkar, (Eds.), Home and Native Land: Unsettling Multiculturalism in Canada (Toronto: Between the Lines, 2011). 

  44. Mary Louise Adams, “The Game of Whose Lives? Gender, Race, and Entitlement in Canada’s ‘National’ Game, in David Whitson and Richard Gruneau, (Ed.), Artificial Ice: Hockey, Culture, and Commerce (Peterborough: Garamond Press/Broadview Press, 2006), 71. 

  45. Adams, “The Game,” 72; Walz, “Hockey Movies,” 10. 

  46. Adams, “The Game,” 74. 

  47. Abdel Shehid, “Writing Hockey,” 76. 

Article: Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License

Image: from Animal Locomotion
Eadweard Muybridge