Like the character played by Paul Newman in Slap Shot, director George Roy Hill is ambivalent on the subject of violence in professional ice hockey. Half the time Hill invites the audience to get off on the mayhem, the other half of the time he decries it.
Screenwriter Nancy Dowd, who drew on the experiences of her hockey-playing brother Ned Dowd (pic’s tech advisor and a bit player), had the originality to deal with an offbeat milieu that has been rarely treated by American films.
What Dowd seems to have had in mind was a satire of American rowdyism, as brought out in the adolescent antics of this sleazy minor league Pennsylvania hockey team, of which Newman is player-coach.
Interspersed with the roughhouse rink action are scenes delineating the confused sexual liaisons of Newman and the others.