Boston Bruins Badboy Enjoys Hollywood Ending

Derek Sanderson was made in Canada. The biopic on his life will be too.

Bruins devotees of this most improper Bostonian are none too pleased with the announcement. The filmmakers weren’t keen on Beantown location costs. “Boston was too expensive for this independent production,” Casey Sherman, a mouthpiece for the film Turk, told the Boston Herald. “Locations have already been secured in Canada, although the filmmakers had their hearts set on shooting in Boston.” 

Dubbing itself “Hollywood East,” Massachusetts offers tax breaks and other incentives to filmmakers to shoot in the Bay State. Visitors flying into Logan Airport glimpse dozens of movie posters boasting the area’s recent popularity for location shooting. But even Cantabrigians Matt Damon and Ben Affleck opted to shoot Good Will Hunting’s scenes set in Harvard Square’s legendary (and since departed) Bow & Arrow Pub in Canada. In Hollywood, as in hockey, Canada cleans up.

The last time “Turk” left Boston, money served as the reason, too. In 1972, the Philadelphia Blazers of the upstart World Hockey Association awarded Sanderson the largest contract in the history of sports. Sanderson, who looked more like a member of the band Boston than a member of the hockey team from Boston, bought a Rolls Royce on impulse, took two Playboy Bunnies to Hawaii with just the clothes on their backs, and once tipped his caddy by giving him his new set of golf clubs.

As long as he could skate and score and scrap, the NHL’s former rookie of the year leading a lavish lifestyle posed few problems in the freewheeling world of 1970s professional hockey. But by the decadent decade’s end, injuries, alcohol, and an ill-advised investment in Joe Namath’s “Bachelors III” nightclub led to Sanderson sleeping on the same streets over which he once drove that Rolls Royce. 

An assist came from the player Sanderson assisted on his most famous moment. In 1970, a second before Noel Picard’s trip sent Bobby Orr flying into the air above the ice, Sanderson had set up the Bruins defenseman to score that iconic overtime goal to complete the sweep of the St. Louis Blues in the Stanley Cup. By 1979, life’s trips overshadowed the center’s triumphs.

Hall of Famer Orr, whose hockey career also came to a painful halt in the intervening years, extended a helping hand to his penniless pal. Orr paid for rehab. Sanderson paid him back through his post-hockey career as a Bruins broadcaster, financial advisor to athletes, and exemplar of the benefits of sobriety. 

It’s the type of tale of excess and redemption that should light up the silver screen, at least that’s what the indie filmmakers producing Turk think. Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell’s kid Wyatt Russell, who played collegiate hockey, stars as Bobby Orr, Logan Marshall-Green of The OC portrays the title character, and Ed Burns plays Sanderson’s beleaguered pa.

The film may not have Boston as its backdrop. But Turk promises to have a Hollywood happy ending.


Photo credit: John van-Schalkwyk



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