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THE DESERT DOG BLOG: REST IN PEACE, REGGIE DUNLOP

Sunday, 09.28.2008 / 2:03 AM / The Desert Dog Blog - by Dave Vest
By Dave Vest
Information, observations and anecdotes about the Coyotes
as told by Dave Vest, the team's V.P. of News Content


If you were to ask 20 professional hockey players, young or older, to name their favorite hockey movie, I’m guessing 19 would tell you Slap Shot. And that’s a conservative estimate.

That’s why I was curious to talk to some of the Coyotes players and front-office members about the death of Paul Newman, who played lead character Reggie Dunlop in the 1977 classic film. Newman’s death was reported Saturday. He was 83.

“I bet all 20 guys would say Slap Shot,” defenseman Logan Stephenson, 22, told me in the press box during the first intermission of Saturday night’s preseason game against the Anaheim Ducks. “There’s no doubt it’s the best hockey movie ever made…And it’s all based upon real people so it’s the most realistic hockey movie by far. I think that’s why hockey players really enjoy it.”

Stephenson, who is in training camp hoping to earn a spot on the roster, was born nine years after Slap Shot was released. That says a lot about the film’s timelessness and its lofty place within the hockey community.

Sean Burke, 41, who played 858 NHL games and who is now the Director of Prospect Development for the Coyotes, said Newman’s portrayal of a middle-aged, minor-league hockey player/coach was terrific.

“I think his performance was bang-on,” Burke said. “His attitude for a guy at that point in his career and the respect that he got from his teammates, it was all perfect.”

Stephenson agreed.

“(Newman) was unbelievable in that movie,” Stephenson said. “He was the perfect depiction of the player/coach, which we don’t even have anymore. And I’ve heard stories that when he was making that movie he loved being around the hockey players. I think it was the perfect role for him. It was absolutely perfect. He’s a hockey legend and he never even played hockey. It was sad to hear that he passed away but you know what, we’ll always remember him for that role.”

Captain Shane Doan, 31, was shocked and saddened by the news of Newman’s death, too. In addition to Slap Shot, he loved Newman in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Sting.

“I’ve got all those (Paul Newman) movies,” Doan said. “He was great in all of them but he couldn’t have played that role (in Slap Shot) any better.”

After we spoke, Burke said he needed to text his 13-year old son with the news that Reg Dunlop had passed way.

“He’s young so he won’t know who Paul Newman was,” Burke said. “But he knows who Reg Dunlop was.”

Rest in Peace, Reg.



Head Coach Wayne Gretzky raved about rookie forward Viktor Tikhonov after Saturday’s game against the Ducks.

“We’re thrilled with Viktor,” Gretzky said. “He’s had a tremendous camp, great preseason. He gets better every game and he’s solid with the puck and he’s reliable defensively and he just plays hard and practices hard. He’s a tremendous draft pick for our organization and we’re thrilled to have him.”

Center Garth Murray also has caught Gretzky’s eye in training camp ala Daniel Winnik and Craig Weller in 2007.

“He’s been sort of the Winnik/Weller-type scenario from last year where he’s been just a tremendous, pleasant surprise,” Gretzky said. “…We’ve utilized him to kill penalties and forecheck and play sort of a defensive role, and he’s done that very well and he’s had an outstanding training camp.”



Yes, that was former Coyotes goalie David LeNeveu in net for the Ducks on Saturday night playing a solid game. LeNeveu performed like a goalie looking to stick in the NHL, stopping 26 of 27 shots he faced, including 12 in the third period.



John Muckler, whom the Coyotes hired as a senior advisor to General Manager Don Maloney, attended Saturday’s game and watched it from inside Maloney’s box on the press level.

Thanks for reading.

Dave
thedesertdogblog@phoenixcoyotes.com
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