The Mighty Ducks

The Mighty Ducks (1992)

Estevez shines, as usual, in the original Mighty Ducks

It’s October, which means it is time for the start of another hockey season. Starting this week, twenty-nine Stanley Cup contenders and the Toronto Maple Leafs will hit the ice.

One of the top contenders this year is the Anaheim Ducks, formerly The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. With talent such as Teemu Selanne, Chris Pronger and Scott Neidermayer, the Pond dwellers have a chance to hoist their first Stanley Cup. Should that happen, a lot of credit would go to their coach, to their players and to their General Manager.

The Mighty Ducks posterI only hope that the man who built them from the ground up, taught them how to win, and helped them learn the importance of being a team is given his share of the credit – and that man’s name is Emilio Estevez.

In The Mighty Ducks, Estevez plays Gordon Bombay, a former child hockey prodigy. After failing to score in a big game, he turns away from the sport. Gordon eventually becomes a hotshot lawyer, who will utilize every dirty trick in the book.

After a drunk-driving arrest, Bombay is forced to perform community service – as a coach for a pee-wee hockey team. Irony can really be a bitch sometimes.

After some initial setbacks, Bombay eventually wins over his team. The stronger their bond grows, the better they perform on the ice. They eventually get so good that they appear on the cover of “Hockey – America’s #1 Hockey Publication” no less than three times throughout the film. Apparently there wasn’t much going on in the NHL in 1992.

The whole coach takes a rag-tag bunch of players and leads them from the bottom to the top premise has been explored before, but Estevez’s dynamic portrayal never lets the film feel clichéd.

Emilio has gone through some rough times since the release of the film. He got divorced from his wife Paula Abdul, who straight up told him that opposites no longer attract. He had to watch his brother Charlie Sheen go through some very public issues with drug use and prostitutes. Worst of all, his mother was arrested in 1997 for keeping hillbillies caged up in her basement.

Through it all, Emilio has been the epitome of class, and has handled it with unparalleled dignity. He is a fine man, a terrific actor and a damn fine hockey coach.

As great as this film is, it could have been even better if not for the meddling of some Disney execs. A particularly powerful scene, where Bombay falls off the wagon, and beats one of the female players with a hockey stick, while chugging a bottle of Jack Daniels and screaming “you call that a breakaway, you dirty little whore” had to be cut out when it was deemed “un-Disney like” by one of the studio’s suits.

A similar fate met the scene where Bombay took his team to a rub and tug to celebrate a playoff win. I was lucky enough to see the uncensored director’s cut of the film, and I must tell you to go out of your way to see it. It is only available in Peru, but can be shipped here for as little as $300.00.

Whichever version of the film you see, you will no doubt find it to be heart warming and hilarious. Whether you are a hockey fan or not, I’m sure after watching it you will agree, The Mighty Ducks is all that it is quack-ed up to be!

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