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Why ‘Saving Stanley’ may be the greatest hockey mockumentary you’ve never seen

Greg Wyshynski
Puck Daddy

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Sports movies fall into two categories: Blessed and shunned.

The blessed ones have the cooperation of the leagues in their sports genre; hence the films feature real team names, logos and other trademarks. The shunned ones have to resort to fictitious franchises like the Miami Sharks ("Any Given Sunday").

The National Hockey League has been pretty giving with its trademarks: The New York Rangers appeared in "Mystery, Alaska"; NHL swag has been seen in movies ranging from "Clerks" to "Wayne's World"; and we've got three words for ya: "The Love Guru."

So it's no surprise the NHL would have an appetite to work with some filmmakers that wanted to create a movie around the Stanley Cup and its gravitas.

But a mockumentary about a crazy Canadian that steals the Cup?

Saving Stanley - The Trailer from Vashi Nedomansky on Vimeo.

This is the trailer for "Saving Stanley", an unfinished hockey comedy that chronicles the chaos when the Stanley Cup is stolen. Shot around eight years ago, it features exclusive access to the Cup, its keepers and behind the scenes moments during the playoffs. It also features an insane Canadian "stealing" the Cup to bring it back to his homeland.

Where did this flick come from? Why hasn't it been finished? A former pro hockey player with a rather famous father had the answers.

Vashi Nedomansky attended the University of Michigan from 1988-1992, before embarking on a decade-long pro hockey career that saw him skate with teams like the ECHL Knoxville Cherokees, the IHL Phoenix Roadrunners, the AHL's Lowell Lock Monsters and the Los Angeles Blades of Roller Hockey International.

His father, Vaclav Nedomansky, defected to Canada in 1974 from Czechoslovakia and played in the WHA before skating with the Detroit Red Wings, St. Louis Blues and New York Rangers in the NHL.

Vashi Nedomansky is now a film editor in Santa Monica, having worked on a variety of films that included David Zucker's political screed "An American Carol." This week, he popped the "Saving Stanley" trailer up on Vimeo with the following message:

"A few years ago...I edited a trailer for a film that was part documentary, part drama, part insanity and all about the theft and worldwide chase of the NHL's STANLEY CUP. I was about to edit the film when the producers vanished.

"I have all the footage. The story must be told. The Stanley Cup's most incredible unseen journey must be shared. I must tell that story..."

The "Saving Stanley" project has been gestating for several years. Producer and co-director Karl Johnson submitted a screenplay to the NHL in 2003 about the Stanley Cup going missing for 24 hours, and the League approved it. Johnson and Dino Georgopoulos embarked on the multi-year project for Kosmos Innertainment Group, filming the Cup during the playoffs and interviewing some significant names like Scotty Bowman. From the Hockey Hall of Fame's Stanley Cup diary in 2005:

A film crew accompanied the Stanley Cup on site. Karl Johnson, a Hollywood director, is putting together a film titled, 'Saving Stanley,' the story of a group of friends trying to recover the Stanley Cup from evil Canadians who stole it. The film is a mockumentary; produced to look like a documentary but not, in fact, factual. 'Best in Show' and 'This is Spinal Tap' are two excellent examples of mockumentaries. The director spent the day getting film footage of celebrities talking about the Stanley Cup and incorporated Cup Keeper Mike Bolt into a starring role (we fear his head will expand to the point of not being able to wear a helmet!)

Nedomansky said they amassed over 200 hours of footage, including some fantastic unscripted moments — like when the fan gets shouted down for touching the Cup.

"That's real. You pay $5 to get your picture taken, and he got inspired," he said. "You can't pick up the Cup without earning it."

The plot for the flick is simple. "Shukhman decides to come down from Canada to steal the Stanley Cup, because it hasn't been back there since 1993. That's his mission," said Nedomansky. "The three other guys, that you saw on the plane, are a whole separate crew that come across the Cup and decide they can make some money from it. So they're the bumbling idiots. Shukhman, who's the actual idiot, has the master plan."

He said finished product will fit in with the current trend of "found footage" films (think "Cloverfield" and "Chronicle"), but with the plot of the mockumentary.

Nedomansky said he reposted the trailer — it was originally online back in 2009 — to drum up some financial support for the film so it can be completed.

Here's hoping it's completed someday; not only because it looks like a nutty hockey comedy, but as a quasi-documentary on the Cup's travels before and around the lockout.

Oh, and so Mike Bolt can become the matinee idol he's always wanted to be. That too.

For more information, or for anyone interested in getting involved in the project, email Dino Georgopoulos of Kosmos Innertainment Group at dddino@gmail.com.

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