“Odd Man Rush” – The Movie – Is on its Way
At the NHL Awards Show in Las Vegas tonight, the presenters for the NHL Rookie of the Year Award will be Trevor Gretzky, Alexa Lemieux, and Jesse Robitaille.
It’s appropriate. Their fathers were terrific players, two of whom won the Rookie of the Year Award. (Note: It could have been three, but Gretzky, who joined the WHA as a 17-year-old, was ruled ineligible for rookie status in his first NHL season, 1979-80. So he settled for the Hart Trophy and the Lady Byng.)
It’s also appropriate in that all three have offspring – Gretzky and Lemieux as actors, Robitaille as a soundtrack musician – with roles in the upcoming film version of “Odd Man Rush: A Harvard Kid’s Hockey Odyssey from Central Park to Somewhere in Sweden – With Stops Along the Way,” a 2016 account of Bill Keenan’s adventures and misadventures in his hockey career, which included NY Apple Core; an injury-riddled four years at Harvard; and several minor pro teams in Europe. In Sweden, he was even traded for a washer-dryer combo. How many players can say that?
“The movie,” says Keenan, “is like Slapshot, though maybe more realistic. I'd say it's a modern-day European version of Slapshot.”
The book is a hilarious coming-of-age story in a hockey setting. (We originally reviewed it in USHR News of Feb. 26, 2016.)
Right now, the film is in post-production. “We’ll be submitting to film festivals. After that it’s kind of up to them (the producers) in how they choose to release it, either streaming or in theatres. We just want to make sure it’s accessible to people.”
The film is largely shot in upstate New York, due to the fact that the landscape can pass for parts of northern Sweden in the winter (as well as the fact that New York offers incentives to films shot in the state). The hockey sequences were shot at Colgate University, Hamilton College, and the historic Clinton Arena.
Asked how the film came to be, Keenan says that, after finishing the screenplay, “I wrote a moonshot of an email. It was to Howard Baldwin, known throughout the hockey world as owner of the Hartford Whalers and co-owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins.”
“I was just guessing his email address,” adds Keenan, “and he responded within a day. I was really happy with that.”
Baldwin is also well known for directing his passion for hockey into film, as he was the producer of Mystery, Alaska. Baldwin, in the 1980s, also gave David E. Kelley, the son of former Colby, Boston University, and Hartford Whalers head coach Jack Kelley, his first break. The younger Kelley played at Belmont Hill and Princeton before going on to law school. While working as a lawyer in Boston, Kelley wrote screenplays as a hobby, one of which (From the Hip, starring Judd Nelson) caught the eye of Baldwin.
Kelley, of course, went on to an extremely successful career, writing for LA Law, Ally McBeal, Big Little Lies, Boston Public, and many others. He also wrote Mystery, Alaska. And he’s married to Michelle Pfeiffer.
The fact that Howard Baldwin had given Kelley his break inspired Keenan. “It showed that Howard took chances on people. Howard had done for David Kelley what he was able to do for me: take a script from a nobody and give it a chance.”
For the last two years the Baldwins (Howard and wife Karen) have served as the film’s primary producers. Co-producers include Todd and Grant Slater, the sons of late Colgate head coach Terry Slater.
The Baldwins brought in a seasoned director, Doug Dearth, to fill that all-important role.
Lemieux and Gretzky aren’t in the film solely for name recognition.
Trevor Gretzky took up acting before his six-year career in minor league baseball came to an end. “He’s already had some roles,” Keenan says, “and when he auditioned some of his ad libs were hilarious.”
“Alexis is studying film at USC, and wants to be in the industry,” says Keenan.
Former NHLer Jim Playfair has a bit part in the movie – as a referee. His son, actor Dylan Playfair, has a bigger role. Boston’s own Paul Stewart is in the movie and didn’t even need a stage name. He is simply listed as “Stewie.”
Keenan was asked who plays him in the film.
Jack Mulhern, Keenan says. “He’s in Netflix’s The Society. He has all the makings of a movie star. He’s had a lot of acting experience and the fact that he could skate was staggering. No one else was close to him.” In the film he is called Bobby Sanders. "He's a lot better-looking than me," added Keenan. "And thankfully so."
“As for tonight in Vegas,” Keenan says. “We are hoping it will get us traction. Everyone wants a good story but we have to consider the marketplace. This is a small production, but we are confident that it will stand alone as simply a good movie.”
Foxboro Summer Leagues Start Wednesday
The Foxboro Summer Leagues get underway on Wednesday, June 12th at the Foxboro Sports Center.
For those of you not familiar with the setup, there are three divisions:
-- The Pro Division is a mixture of professional and college players.
-- The Pro Development Division (1999-2003) consists primarily of prep school players, along with a smattering of players from public schools, juniors, U18s, and the NTDP.
-- The College Development Division (2003-2005) is pretty self-explanatory, being made up of young prep and high school players, pre-preps, and U16s.
Most games are on Wednesday nights starting at 5:50 pm, with the last game starting at 7:50 pm. There are also a good number of games on Mondays. The league ends with semifinals (Monday, August 19th) followed by championship games (Wednesday, August 21st).
The full schedules for all three divisions, as well as numerical rosters, are attached here.
Some players, such as Charlie Coyle (Team Keator), Chris Wagner (Team McDonough), Charlie McAvoy (Team Hughes), and Zach Sanford (Team Buckley) are not expected to be on hand for Wednesday's 'friendlies,' as they will be at the Garden for Game 7 of a rather unfriendly Stanley Cup Final.
Perhaps a few players lucky enough to have tickets might also be missing in action in Week 1.
This typist will certainly be MIA, as coaching for the West Cambridge Little League Cubs in the championship game comes first. Afterward, though, win or lose, we'll be like just about everyone else in New England, Missouri, and North America, settling down in front of a TV (preferably one with high-def and a big screen!) at 8:00 pm
Foxboro Summer Leagues Schedules and Rosters
Mass Final 40 Weekend Coming Up
The Mass Hockey Final 40 weekend is coming up, scheduled for Sat.-Sun. May 18-19 at the New England Sports Center in Marlborough, Mass.
Here in the Commonwealth, the temps have been in the 40s all day, plus there was up to an inch of snow in the Berkshires last night, so perhaps hockey season is coming back around to us.
The Final 40 weeekend consists of 120 players, with 40 players at each of the three age groups: the '02s (Select 17), the '03s (Select 16), and the '04s (Select 15).
It's an honor for players to get this far in the three-weekend tryouts. So congratulations to all who have made it to this point. Each age group will be whittled down further over the weekend, and those are the players who will represent the Mass District at the US Player Development Camps in June and July