'Slap Shot' night: We're bringing our (bleeping) toys with us!

Messmer on board

Wayne Messmer is known for singing at Cubs games, but once sang the national anthem for the Blackhawks. (Nuccio DiNuzzo/Tribune Photo / November 29, 2012)

The NHL and the players association are going to federal mediation. Forget them.

We’re going to the Federal League, and you’re invited.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman locked out the players in September. Since then, the house elf for Boston owner Jeremy Jacobs has decided to hold his breath until he turns blue. No NHL hockey. No hope, either.

This made hockey fans sad, even those in Columbus. Then Stevie Sunshine had an idea:

If we couldn’t watch the best players in the world, then we could at least watch the best hockey movie ever.

I told you a couple weeks ago we landed a restored 35mm print of “Slap Shot,’’ and so, to help depressed hockey fans survive Bettman’s boondoggle, we’re showing the profane and hysterical film at the Music Box Theater on Dec. 6.

When was the last time you saw the Charlestown Chiefs win the Federal League championship on the big screen? Never? Well, because I’m a pleaser, not a teaser, now’s your chance.

I asked that question of hockey head Jay Zawaski. He’s the executive producer of the “McNeil and Spiegel Show’’ on WSCR-AM 670. He also writes the Tribune’s ChicagoNow.com "Red Light District" blog.

Zawaski said he had never seen “Slap Shot’’ on the big screen because he was born the year it came out. That makes me old.

But it also underscores the chance we’re giving puckheads: See the greatest hockey movie ever like you’ve never seen it before.

“Slap Shot’’ heads know the film starts with the national anthem -- truth is, “Slap Shot’’ heads know every line in the film -- so we’ll start with legendary anthem singer Wayne Messmer. I’ll bet there are a lot of hockey newbies who know Messmer only as the Wolves senior vice president and Cubs anthem singer and public address announcer.

If that’s all you’re aware of, then you have a hole in your local hockey knowledge that’s bigger than the one where Bettman’s brain used to be.

Listen up, people. Gain some knowledge: Messmer was the anthem singer standing in the Stadium organ loft in 1985 before a Blackhawks-Oilers playoff game when spontaneous cheering broke out. I’m not sure if Messmer got out so much as “O, say’’ before Hawks fans thundered an ovation that lasted the entire anthem, but a glorious local hockey tradition began.

Jim Cornelison has a magnificent voice, but he did not bring that with him. Hawks president John McDonough is a business marketing genius, but he didn’t invent that tradition. Rocky Wirtz’s dad, the late Billfold Wirtz, loved hockey, but apparently hated Hawks fans so much that he doggedly prevented loyalists from seeing it on television.

Now you’ve learned something, and you’ll learn a lot more stuff about “Slap Shot’’ if you join us next Thursday. Tribune movie critic Michael Phillips and I will co-host the event and lead a Q&A after the film. I believe “Slap Shot’’ is the greatest sports movie ever. Phillips doesn’t. I might have to put a $100 bounty on his head.

But here’s the thing: Our postgame show got bigger and better. Messmer will join us for questions and stories, and we’ll Skype with a Hanson Brother – Steve Carlson, who uttered the immortal “Putting on the foil!’’

Carlson as Steve Hanson also likely has a place close to Messmer’s heart, and here’s why: He is the Hanson Brother standing on the blue line with a shattered glass lens and blood streaming down his face after a pregame brawl who yells at the referee hectoring him during the anthem: “I’m listening to the (bleeping) song!’’

Messmer said he would bring Wolves tickets and a game-used stick that we’ll raffle off before we end what ought to be an evening of great hockey fun. I’m trying to capture the spirit of the thing.

This has become a big deal. By Wednesday afternoon, we had sold more than 500 tickets in a theater that seats 680, and we still had a week to sell out the Music Box. So, hurry. We’ve had groups inquire about discounts. Who knew?

At least one of the groups coming to see Paul Newman utter almost every pottymouth word you can imagine is a team of high school hockey players whose parents should expect an investigation by DCFS.

Tickets are $15. Go to chicagotribune.com/slapshot. If you buy 10 or more, they’re only $10 apiece. Enter the promotional code -- wait for it -- “reggiedunlop.’’

“They brought their (bleeping) toys with ‘em!’’

Connect
Advertisement

VIDEO