Mystery Alaska on NHL Network tonight

Instead of watching the Rangers tonight, perhaps you’d like to watch a great hockey movie.

Tonight at 8:00 p.m. the NHL Network will be airing the 1999 film Mystery, Alaska.

For those of you who don’t know, Mystery, Alaska is one of the best hockey movies ever made. Sure, there really isn’t that much competition, but even after 19 years Jay Roach’s film still stands out as a different and worthwhile hockey movie.

Mystery, Alaska is hockey movie without taped-up, tin foiled knuckles or slow-motion shots of bloody teeth tumbling peacefully through the air. It’s got heart and flawed, human characters. It also features a jersey that is instantly recognizable to anyone who has seen the film. And the opening shots of the its trailer, complete with the crunch of skates on a winding, frozen river, is the stuff that hockey dreams are made of.

The late Roger Ebert wasn’t a huge fan of the film, but he did identify Mystery, Alaska’s appeal.

The movie assembles a large cast in Mystery, Alaska, a fictional town where since time immemorial life has revolved around the Saturday Game, a hockey match played on black pond ice by local boys and men, who take it very seriously indeed.

There’s something endearing about the Saturday Game. It’s drawn from a place that nearly everyone who loves hockey can connect with; a place of ritual, tradition, and community. Sure, the plot is dubious, but there’s also Mike Myers doing a parody of Don Cherry, Russell Crowe giving an inspirational speech to a group of people that aren’t spectactors of gladiatorial combat, and Burt Reynolds. In other words, it’s got more going for it than the Transformers movies.

Also — and this should prove familiar to readers of Blueshirt Banter — the New York Rangers are the antagonists of the film. Maybe tonight you’d like a break from watching a team that has three regulation wins in their last 19 games. If you do, consider checking out a movie that mysteriously has the same rating as Goon and Goon 2.

So, what are your top five hockey movies?