Home > A Look Back, Movies > A Look Back… D2: The Mighty Ducks

A Look Back… D2: The Mighty Ducks

In the midst of the World Cup, and the United States’ upcoming invasion of Mali, it’s as good a time as any to revisit D2: The Mighty Ducks and the site of ‘The Miracle on Ice’ for my generation; the 1994 Junior Goodwill games. Truly a seminal film, its legacy can still be felt today. I bet you didn’t even know you hated Iceland until this movie was released and taught us how terrible they were. The Ducks got their own Stanley Cup winning NHL team named after them. We’re talking about a movie that did more to make hockey popular in the U.S. than Wayne Gretzky ever could.

This isn’t a review of the film in a conventional sense as we’ve already established D2 as an American classic; but re-watching the film as an adult did raise some questions that I apparently missed growing up.


1. Who is running Hendrix Hockey, and why have they not been fired?

The only representative of Hendrix we meet is Don Tibbles, a buffoonish character who operates with impunity. His first action on-screen is to hire Gordon Bombay on the basis of one peewee hockey championship and the prodding of an old, Norwegian hockey equipment retailer in Minnesota. Then there’s the whole side story about Hendrix having a vested interest in Team USA winning the gold medal, based on all the money they are throwing the coach’s way, including endorsement deals and his own line of high-class loafers (The Air Bombay).

I thought about it and I can’t come close to naming a single amateur coach in any sport, so I’m not  sure exactly what market they were looking to tap into. Couple that with the fact that we know at the very least Coach Bombay was pulling down a hefty salary, there was that rented apartment in Malibu, and Hendrix threw enough money at General Mills to get a Wheaties box in the teams honor. What kind of payoff were they realistically expecting? Since he’s the only suit we ever see, Tibbles may have indeed been the company’s CEO, but there’s no way they wouldn’t have gone bankrupt by then.

2. How did Trinidad make it into the field?

No mismatch here.

Coming off of the success of Cool Runnings, Disney just decided to run with the whole ‘Caribbean nation playing winter sports’ angle. They even went so far as to feature the matchup on the film’s cover art. I guess they overestimated the regional impact of bobsledding. Still, at least Trinidad managed to score against the U.S., which is more than can be said about Italy. Really, 11-0? There isn’t a mercy rule in the Goodwill Games?

More to the point, why were Trinidad and Italy the featured preliminary games? For years, I thought Canada was completely absent from the tournament until further research proved otherwise. It turns out U.S. even played both Canada and the Russian team that managed to beat Iceland in the quarterfinals. Sure these movies weren’t really about the hockey, but if you ask a 10 year-old which countries love hockey, Trinidad and Tobago don’t even make it into the conversation. And that whole Black roller hockey team in South Central L.A. interlude? Really?

3. Is Coach Stansson the greatest villain ever in a kid’s movie?

I do more than sweep the leg.

Let’s start with the name, Wolf ‘The Dentist’ Stansson. He doesn’t need to say a word and his badass credentials have been established. He makes his introduction by breaking into Coach Bombay’s press conference to trash talk his competition… at the Junior GOODWILL Games. He then goes on to mock Bombay’s dead father, encourage his players to injure the much smaller Ducks, and even takes out the Minnesota Miracle Man with a hockey stick. Plus, he pulls off the whole sneering, smarmy European stereotype so well.

With all due respect to the Cobra Kai and the legend of Zabka, I say yes.

4. Greenland is covered with ice, and Iceland is very nice.

There’s not even a question there, It’s just one of the many helpful teaching moments Disney threw in the film along the way. Also, ice cream dates are always a good idea.

Team USA… bigger than the MLB Strike in ’94

5. Nobody notices Keenan (Russ Tyler) changing uniforms and pads with Goldberg?

A goalie has a hell of a lot of pads to take off. Not only did they miss the whole switcheroo, but they let him take off his mask (illegal), cross the red line (illegal) and grab another player’s stick, set up the knucklepuck and fire untouched. The whole sequence must have taken a good 30 seconds, and no one on Iceland could have gotten to him? No wonder they choked in the shootout.

6. How does Bombay stick with Goldberg over Julie ‘The Cat’ Gaffney?

I understand loyalty, but any idiot can see Gaffney was leaps and bounds ahead of Goldberg. Even in practice, she was a veritable brick wall, while Goldberg’s only chance to stop the puck was to hope someone shot it directly at him. It took their new coach all of one practice in D3 to make the change. Maybe Bombay had something going on with Goldberg’s mom? He didn’t seem to be shedding any tears over leaving Charlie’s.

7. Why was there even a lasso on the bench?

Honestly? What possible purpose could it serve? Still, two minutes… well worth it.

8. Are Luis Mendoza and Jesse Hall the greatest athletes of all-time?

Before you remind me that Luis and Jesse (Mike Vitar and Brandon Adams respectively) were bit players in the movie, let me remind you that hockey is just their winter sport. In the summers they dominated sandlot baseball under the pseudonyms Benny ‘The Jet’ Rodriguez, and Kenny DeNunez and both managed to go pro. I’m just surprised neither of them tried their hand in football; they could have made all the difference in Little Giants. Their success even inspired rival Gunner Stahl to move to Minnesota, adopt a fake American accent, and switch to goalie only to lose to the Ducks again in high school in D3.

Doomed to lose.

9. Why shoot it into the Glove?!

Too Easy.

I’m not even talking about Gunner Stahl’s epic failed triple deke to end the game. This was pointed out to me by WEEI’s E-mail Female Annie, a legendary Mighty Ducks fan during our college days, but watch the shootout again. The third skater for Iceland decides to ignore all that free space between Goldberg and the right side of the net and instead aims directly into his glove. The entire half of the net is there for the taking but he just decides to see if Goldberg is still alive. And he wasn’t even the fancy one.

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