The Tournament
The Complete Series
2 Seasons 16 Episodes
2 DVD set
Alan Goulem, Paula Boudreau, Cas Anvar
Written and created by Howard Busgang and Marty Putz
VSC 2006

The Tournament The Complete Series DVD opens with this viewer warning: Due to scenes of appallingly petty adult behavior, this hockey comedy may not be suitable for children. This is quite true but no kid who has ever played minor league hockey and no parents who have ever spent their Saturday mornings drinking a Tim Horton double-double in a local hockey arena at five in the morning will hear or see anything new. This time, however, it is funny as Phil Esposito falling on his tuckus during the Canada -Russia 72 series and as serious as the last minutes of the series of the century. Language wise, everything is bleeped out so don’t worry about it. The Tournament The Complete Series DVD is Slap Shot meets little league hockey.

The Tournament is your typical Canadian sit-com not only because it aired on CBC but because it has some very weird locals, a French-Canadian (coach Mercier) and an Indian -though in this case it is an Indian from India. This hockey situation comedy is also a fun cinema verite mockumentary reality style show.

Season One of the two season The Tournament focuses on the McConnell family headed by hockey dad from hell Barry McConnell (arguments per game: 8). His son Robbie, 10, is the star of the local Atom team, the Farqueson Funeral Home Warriors. Barry McConnell (Alan Goulem) has all his dreams on his ten-year-old’s shoulders to the point he already has a mock-up of his son’s hockey card and scheming a thirty-foot extension to have his house cross the county line to his son can play on a better team.

The Tournament The Complete Series is one hell of a dark hockey comedy with some very warped and funny characters, especially Barry’s buddy Doug (Christian Potenza) and some interesting direction and split screen takes. The camera is always present and present at the most awkward moments which give it the mock-documentary feel and allows the fallacy of catching these very strange small town hockey fanatics and hockey parents in their worst light.

Season one of the two-season The Tournament The Complete Series DVD set is centered on a big Atom tournament. Barry pushes hard for his kid to play as much as possible, gives the coach a hart attack, tries to beat out Singh for the coaches job only to be upstaged by the French-Canadian ice rink guy, the team goes to Chateauguay for the big tournament, Barry’s wife reserves a suite that Barry transfers over to another coach he wants to have take a look at his kids, the team and the parents have their ups and downs during the tournament and there are a few surprise developments that make it a truly Canadian sitcom.

There are some excellent one-liners in this hockey sitcom, such as when Singh asks, “What kind of people come up with a compromise that is inconvenient for everybody? So very Canadian, eh?” The Tournament The Complete Series is a well-written show so paying attention will definitely reveal some gems writing wise. “We’re a funeral home, it makes a lot of sense to sponsor a hockey team.” “Get a free ride in a hearse, fun for the whole family.” “When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. Barry O’Connell lives on lemonade.”

One thing for sure, the hockey dads are absolutely nuts. This is a case of testosterone on ice gone wild. Then again, the wives and women around the Warriors team sure go out of their way to get coach Mercier to notice them. Just about as certain is the hockey moms may take a backseat to their husbands when it comes to hockey decisions but they do not take a backseat when it comes to going overboard. In Season One of The Tournament The Complete Series look for a cameo by famous NHL stars like Phil Esposito who gets to give the fingers to Barry McConnell

Season two of The Tournament The Complete Series on DVD opens with Barry and Singh hoping to get their sons on the Panthers Junior A team while the Farqueson Funeral Home Warriors have only three players (of sorts) trying out for next season. Eventually the Warriors become a pee-wee team and all the whack job parents are back together fighting on the same team. If you thought the hockey parents were nuts during season one, they are even weirder and more out of control in season two. This is also the season where Louis Philippe Dandenault shines as virginal and slowly turning alcoholic from the pressure coach Mercier (Dandenault’s brother is pro hockey player Mathieu Dandenault).

This, however, is the weak point in season two of this hockey comedy DVD set. The focus, which was never on the kids but did understand they were there, is now strictly on the parents’ various schemings and personal relationship shenanigans. A lot of the second season plot also has to do with behind the scenes business dealings in an attempt to make the Warriors disappear.

Things definitely take a turn for the better in episode 6 of season two of The Tournament when the women take over everything including Mercier’s sister who becomes the team’s French speaking coach. The tournament, this time, is a Can-Am in the states where Barry meets a man whose hockey career he destroyed in the first Can-Am hockey tournament twenty-five years ago.

In a page ripped out of the Canada Russia 72 series, the American and Canadian team meet for a winner take all game back in Canada and the whole country in on the bandwagon. Look for cameos by greats like Yvan Cournoyer and Dennis Hull (who sure has fun taking pot shots at his brother Bobby Hull). The game is also covered by Ron McLean of Hockey Night in Canada.

The Tournament The Complete Series is an absolute must for anyone who has ever been involved in amateur hockey. For those who like comparisons it is the Bad News Bears meets Slap Shot.


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