Paul Newman plays Reggie Dunlop, the coach of a pathetic minor-league American hockey team. His career at a standstill and his marriage in tatters, Dunlop has nothing to lose by taking on a new group of players who are one evolutionary step above Neanderthals.
Only when the team begins winning does he decide to get behind these players, and to encourage the rest of the team to play as down-and-dirty as the newcomers. Straight-arrow team member Ned Braden (Michael Ontkean) resents this influx of gonzo talent, preferring to play clean.
As the film's multitude of subplots play themselves out, Dunlop does his best to keep the outraged Braden on the team. Slap Shot is the sort of film for which the R rating was invented: Its nonstop barrage of profanity and its raunchy action sequences are of such intensity that the film will probably never be shown intact on commercial television.