ESPN 30 for 30 Shorts: Our Tough Guy (2014)

Directed by Molly Schiot

Our Tough Guy brings a lot of the same sentiments to mind as the previous short, The Great Trade Robbery, but in different ways. For most of the short run time I sat wondering why this subject? why make a film about this? The subject is John Wensink, a former NHL player for the Boston Bruins. What makes the film seem quite inaccessible to me is the fact that it is a personal love song to a player from a city, a player with which I am unfamiliar, and a city in which I do not live. For fans of the Boston Bruins I am sure the film might prove far more effective, but as it were, it came as a struggle to me.

However, upon reflection of the film I gleaned at least a certain level of appreciation. For, while I may know nothing of Wensick or the Bruins for that matter, I do know his type. The NHL enforcer, a position since written out of the game with new rules and new unspoken rules of conduct on the ice. I can, though, recall Jody Shelley, my hometown teams “enforcer”. He has since ascended to the press box as the color commentator for the Columbus Blue Jackets, but he was our “tough guy”. On the ice to protect his fellow teammates, and to gain the team needed energy when most needed, he doesn’t score many goals, may not be the best skater, needless to say he is not the star of the team. But the enforcer remains an important role on a hockey team, one that someone must fill.

So while I don’t know John Wensick, or care a lick about the Boston Bruins, the sentimentality shown towards him by the filmmaker and fan base is undoubtedly relatable. This type of respect is further reaching than just hockey as well, each sports team as an unheralded fan favorite, someone the fan base is able to appreciate without the need for a full line in the box score, or national attention. They are “ours” because they are us.

**1/2 – Average

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