"What Newman does here is casual American star-acting at its peak; he's as perfectly assured a comedian as Bogart in The African Queen, even though the role isn't particularly well-written and the picture itself isn't in the same class. In The Sting, he was smooth and charming, but there was no hardness in him; he wasn't a con man for a minute. He's gone beyond that sweetie-pie succulence here. What he does as Reggie isn't very different from what he's done before; it's that the control, the awareness, the power all seem to have become clarified. He has the confidence now to value his own gifts as an entertainer. In a picture such as Winning, he was impressive but a little somber; there was nothing to crack open--he couldn't use his resourcefulness. Here his technique seems to have become instinct. You can feel his love of acting; he's not fighting it or trying to hide it."
-From review of Slap Shot
The New Yorker, March 7, 1977