Tuesday, February 14, 2017
Mav in Binghampton with the Slap Shot Crew.
Mavety remembers as Slap Shot turns 40
Shown in this publicity shot as a member of the minor-pro Denver Spurs (1968-71), former longtime Belleville Bulls GM-coach Larry Mavety appeared in the 1977 hockey movie Slap Shot while playing in Binghamton. The film celebrates its 40th anniversary this month. (Getty Images)
Yes, the iconic hockey movie turns 40 this month.
"Wow,” says Larry Mavety, speaking via cellphone from his home in Kingston. “That's a long time ago.”
Mavety, the former longtime Belleville Bulls GM-coach, appeared in the Hollywood shinny cult classic filmed mostly in Johnstown, PA, and released in 1977, along with several of his minor-pro teammates then skating in the old North American Hockey League for the Binghamton Dusters.
"Heck, I got more money for five seconds in the movie than I did playing for Binghamton for a whole week,” said Mavety, a rugged defenceman with solid offensive skills. “Then, they fed you on top of that.”
Contrary to a popular local legend, Mavety, now 74, does not appear in the climactic championship game as Clarence (Screaming Buffalo) Swamptown, who terrorizes the hometown Charlestown Chiefs as one of a cast of crazy call-ups by the arch-rival Syracuse Bulldogs.
You actually have to look really hard to find Mavety when, early in the movie, he lugs the puck behind the net and wheels up ice.
He's right. The scene lasts about five seconds.
"Yeah, I remember when I was still in Belleville and the kids would put that movie on the bus all the time and it would drive me up the wall,” said Mavety. “They always wanted to find me in the movie. And they never did.
"I had the big sideburns back then.”
Even with Hollywood mega-star Paul Newman playing the lead role as Chiefs player-coach, Reggie Dunlop, Mavety and his NAHL teammates didn't believe the movie would amount to much.
"At the time, we thought it was a bit of a joke,” said Mavety. “But now. Who would've thought it would turn out like it did? I don't think we ever dreamed that.”
Along with a nice paycheque, Mavety said another bonus from appearing in Slap Shot was the chance to hang out with Newman.
"He was a good guy,” said Mavety. “He talked to everybody.”
Mavety's Binghamton teammate, Rod Bloomfield, was Newman's double for on-ice action scenes. The highscoring forward grew up in Parry Sound playing minor hockey with the great Bobby Orr and was inducted into the town's Sports Hall of Fame in 2011.
Another real-life Binghamton player, Bill (Goldie) Goldthorpe, was the inspiration for the oft-suspended wildman Ogie Ogilthorpe, portrayed in Slap Shot by NAHL player Ned Dowd, whose sister wrote the script.
Hailing from Thunder Bay where he earned pocket money as a junior by digging graves in his spare time, Goldthorpe sported a gigantic blonde afro and piled up 285 penalty minutes in his rookie NAHL season with the Syracuse Blazers.
Goldthorpe has told reporters he's forgotten how many brawls he'd been involved in — on and off the ice. One story suggests that once during his pro playing career he was refused entry into the U.S. and re-entry back into Canada — in the same day.
"He's an interesting person to talk to,” said Mavety. “He doesn't pull any punches. He sent me a T-shirt and on the back it's got printed all the cities where he's been in jail. He wasn't a bad hockey player either, but he had to live up to an image of what people thought he was.”
And that meant he wasn't even allowed to play his own character in Slap Shot.
"No, they wouldn't let him in the movie,” said Mavety. “They didn't know what he'd do.”
Today, Goldthorpe lives in Vancouver and is becoming something of a regular on the public speaking circuit. He'll appear in Kingston Friday to sign autographs at the K-Rock Centre during the OHL game between the hometown Frontenacs and Peterborough Petes being billed as Slap Shot Night.
Mavety is glad his former teammate is now receiving recognition for his behind-the-scenes role, after being shut out of the smashing success of Slap Shot.
"Yeah, now he's getting something out of it,” said Mavety. “I mean, you ask anybody. He's Ogilthorpe. And he never got a nickel for that.”
Mavety, of course, doesn't have a nickel left from the paycheque he received for his brief appearance in Slap Shot. Not even the paystub.
"I used to keep it in my wallet,” he said. “It had Universal Studios, California printed on it. But I don't know what the hell happened to it. I spent the money, but I always kept the paystub in my wallet.
"I guess I didn't pay much attention to it. Now, I wish I had.”
• Need to know: Newman's Reggie Dunlop character was based loosely on former Toronto Maple Leafs coach, John Brophy, who played defence in the old Eastern Hockey League (forerunner of the NAHL) for 18 seasons. Including 10 seasons with more than 200 and one campaign with 325, Brophy never earned less than 100 penalty minutes per season during his nearly 20 years in the league.
Mav was a legendary athlete growing up in Belleville. His father, "Red" Mavety, ran the Maher Shoe Store, and was a fixture in Downtown Belleville. Mav was a superb catcher, playing at the highest level of softball for many years, especially at the Alemite. He is a member of the Belleville Sports Hall of Fame.
Following his hockey career, (check hockeydb.com), he managed and coached for many years.