Slapshot, a steel sculpture by Minnesota artist Judd Nelson, stands across the driveway from Braemar Arena’s front doors, welcoming all players and fans to the rink. And what would coach Willard Ikola, “coach Ike,” whose statue is next to the doors, want to look at more than a scoring hockey player?
Slapshot is both abstract and representational. It doesn’t portray an individual in specific detail like the realistic depiction of coach Ike, but these metal strips bound together still create a hockey player in motion. It weighs 300 pounds, but the natural stance and gesture give the impression that the figure has paused for an instant and in another second will be dashing fast across the ice again,
surrounded by the action of the game. It’s not hard to imagine the sharp scrape of skate and the breeze of cold air as the player rushes by. Rather than showing a particular person, Slapshot symbolizes all players who want to learn and play hockey.
Nelson grew up in Minnesota and first studied welding in high school. He now teaches art welding to teens and adults at the Minnetonka Center for the Arts. Another of his hockey sculptures is at Plymouth Ice Center, and his work Up, Up and Away, of birds in flight, resides at Hopkins City Hall.
Nelson’s Slapshot was part of Public Art Edina’s rotating exhibition at the Edina Promenade near Centennial Lakes and was purchased for the city through a combination of donations. Like the sculpture of coach Ikola, it is an iconic figure outside Braemar Arena that commemorates the sport that is a passion and commitment for many in our community.
Contributed by Laura Westlund, a tour guide at the Weisman Art Museum and an art hound for Minnesota Public Radio.