Paul Newman, my favorite coach


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Paul Newman’s opening line on the ice was hardly memorable, but the response he received set the tone for the rest of the movie:

‘How’s it going Nick?’

Nick: ‘I’m drunk.’

Does ‘Slap Shot,’ and its player-coach leader, hold up or what? Simply had to run out and rent the movie today after I heard about Newman’s death. Was actually worried that it wouldn’t be on the shelves at the local video store.


(Well, having VHS capability means never having to be sorry.)

Couldn’t quite call this a skate down memory lane but moments resonated for someone who spent most of her childhood around neighborhood hockey rinks in Minnesota and at her dad’s office, also known as the Met Center in Bloomington.

My late father, Dick Dillman, was the first public relations director for the Minnesota North Stars, and the team’s third employee. He remained in that position until his death in 1988. Coaches came and went ... and sometimes came back again (Glen Sonmor). One (Ted Harris) was even fired on Thanksgiving Day in 1977 and dad had to miss dinner preparations to go to the office to write the release.

Which is a long, long way of getting back to ‘Slap Shot,’ which, incidentally, was released in 1977.

The final scene has Reggie Dunlop (Newman) getting the call for a big league coaching job with the Minnesota ‘Night Hawks.’

Now dad would have enjoyed writing that release.

-- Lisa Dillman