Capitals

Quick Links

'The Mighty Ducks' is actually a much deeper movie than you may remember.

'The Mighty Ducks' is actually a much deeper movie than you may remember.

With live sports on pause and most people stuck at home due to the coronavirus, hockey fans have to find other ways to pass the time. Watching a good hockey movie can certainly help, but the fact is some of us haven't seen these movies since we were kids.

So how good are they really? Do they actually hold up? With nothing but time on our hands, let's find out.

Every Friday during the pause, I'll have a hockey movie review in which I will watch a movie the night before, take notes and provide those notes and a grade for each movie just to see how good they really are.

Last week's movie was "Happy Gilmore." This week's movie: "The Mighty Ducks"

Gordan Bombay, played by Emilio Estevez, is an arrogant lawyer who gets booked for a DUI and is sentenced to community service which he serves as the head coach of a Pee-Wee hockey team. This brings up bad memories for Bombay as he abandoned his hockey aspirations after missing what would have been the game-winning penalty shot in the state championship. The team is awful and made up of a rag-tag group of kids. Neither the coach nor the team are happy with the arrangement at first, but eventually grow together and -- spoiler alert -- win the championship by defeating Bombay's former coach and team. But really, who didn't see that coming?

Most people would view this movie to be a kids' movie, but it makes a lot of salient points on youth hockey. I have not seen this in years and was surprised by how much this movie from 1992 still felt relevant in its commentary.

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE CAPITALS TALK PODCAST

Here are my notes from watching:

  • A pet peeve of mine in movies is when the antagonist is just cartoonishly evil. When you have to go over the top to prove someone is the bad guy, it's usually just bad writing. Coach Reilly, coach of the rival Hawks, really walks the line between realistically over-competitive and just completely ridiculous. His pep talk to Bombay as a kid before he takes the penalty shot is pretty brutal. The kid's dad died that year and he's telling him if he misses the penalty shot he'll let the team down. Ouch, no pressure.
  • Look at that goalie mask!

  • Bold choice having the main character get arrested for DUI in a kids' movie.
  • Bombay ends up getting community service because of the deal his boss cuts for him. His boss also makes him take a leave of absence and pays for a car service since his license is suspended. I don't think many bosses would have reacted that way. I also love the idea of his community service being to coach a Pee-Wee team. Is that just a Minnesota thing or a sign of the times? I can't imagine that going over well today. So what made you want to coach a kids hockey team? Well, funny you should ask. I was arrested for DUI and was forced into it. Don't worry though, your kids are in safe hands!
  • Bombay's introduction, "I hate hockey and I don't like kids."
  • Bombay is not the first coach of District 5. Apparently, the first coach had a heart attack. The team is so bad, however, it makes you wonder what the heck that coach was doing.
  • I can't tell whether Coach Reilly popping the collar of his jacket all the time is a nice touch or laughably dumb. I'm leaning towards the latter.
  • "It's not worth winning if you can't win big." See the first point on Coach Reilly. This line is a bit over the top.
  • Even for Pee-Wee, Goldberg is an awful goalie.
  • After literally one game, the team hates Bombay. When they found out he was a Hawk growing up, no one trusts him. When they find out that according to district lines the Hawks' best player, Adam Banks, should be a Duck, the team doesn't trust him either. Initially, I thought this was all pretty ridiculous. I didn't think kids would care or carry that kind of rivalry with pee-wee teams, but this is part of the more nuanced commentary going on beneath the surface of this movie. The Hawks have matching uniforms, equipment, jacket, etc. while the Ducks can't afford ice time, their uniforms are literally just shirts with D5 tapped on and their equipment is whatever they can get their hands on. Some kids are even in football helmets. The Ducks don't like the Hawks because they are the rich kids from the rich district. That's why they call Banks a "cake eater" when he joins the team. I had to look it up, it's a derogatory term for a rich kid. The Ducks don't really find any success until Bombay is able to get his boss to sponsor them so that they can buy equipment and uniforms. The cost of playing hockey is still a major obstacle in growing interest in the game at the youth level. When you watch the movie through this prism, you start to realize there's a lot more going on here than just goofy kid hockey hijinx.
  • "Now imagine, sir, being 10 years old and stepping out onto that ice with old copies of the Enquirer tapped to your shins instead of pads. The point I'm trying to make, sir, is that you wouldn't be taken seriously and neither are these kids."
  • There may have been a subtle "Animal House" reference when Hans talks about what the kids will remember before Bombay goes back to being a doctor and Bombay has to correct him that he's a lawyer. What's the difference?
  • I'm getting too old. The flashback scene where Bombay is skating around playing hockey while his dad looks on? Man, someone's cutting onions. Hey, lay off me. I've got a two-year-old son. I think about these things now.
  • Can kids from Minnesota really complain about the name "Ducks" considering the University of Minnesota's mascot is the Golden Gophers?
  • The most dated scene of this movie? One of the kids gets hit in the helmet with a puck and falls over. The scene is played for comedy and they even add in bird sound effects when he's initially hit. Clearly this was before we knew too much about concussions.
  • Scratch that, the most dated scene of his movie is when they go to a hockey game and watch the Minnesota North Stars host the Hartford Whalers.
  • Scratch that, the most dated scene is when Banks gets cross-checked from behind on a breakaway, is hurt bad enough he has to be carried off on a stretcher and the player is given a two-minute minor for cross-checking.
  • Considering how bad the Ducks were before Bombay got there, how are they suddenly in the playoff hunt after one tie? Their best game before that was a 5-0 loss. One tie and all they have to do is beat the team in front of them and they're in? How bad are the Huskies then? And why don't they play the Hawks in the first round instead of the championships? Does that mean the Ducks upset the best team in the league in the first game of the playoffs?
  • If Anaheim wore the green jerseys from the movie, I'd be all for it. The Ducks currently have the worst jerseys in the NHL.
  • Coach Reilly telling two of his players to take Banks out felt depressingly authentic. You know there are coaches out there who do this.
  • So the flying V is just basically all five players skating in a V, then a drop pass once they get into the offensive zone with the four other players all blocking like a wedge play in a football kickoff. There were four simultaneous interference penalties on that play.

Final Grade: B+

This movie is a pretty sharp commentary on youth hockey disguised as a kids' movie. I was surprised by how it addressed issues in youth hockey that are still prevalent today. If you watch this movie with that expectation and understanding, it is an entirely different movie than what you expect.

Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE CAPITALS NEWS:

Quick Links

Redrafting the 2003 draft: Patrice Bergeron could have been a Penguin

Redrafting the 2003 draft: Patrice Bergeron could have been a Penguin

It takes years to determine who the best players in any given draft are. How would past NHL drafts look if they were redrafted today? Let's look back at the 2003 draft and see how it shaped today's NHL.

Here's a look at the first round of 2003 redrafted.

The draft was a total bust for Washington

In the real draft, the Caps took Eric Fehr 18th overall. He played in 652 NHL games. The remaining five players the team drafted combined for one single NHL game. Yikes.

Phaneuf to the Caps?

In the redraft, I had defenseman Dion Phaneuf going to Washington. Before you groan, let's not forget that he played in over 1,000 NHL games and, while he was with Calgary, he looked absolutely dominant. I don't think there are any questions that he struggled handling the pressure as captain of Toronto. Almost every stat takes a precipitous decline when you compare his Calgary numbers to when he was with the Maple Leafs. I don't think that would have been a problem in Washington as just one year after this draft, the Caps selected a guy by the name of Alex Ovechkin who took all the attention. If Phaneuf had been in a city where he could just play, he would have been a top-pair defenseman for most of his career.

This also would have affected the 2004 draft for Washington. The Caps had three first-round picks. They used one on Ovechkin then took Jeff Schultz and Mike Green late in the round. Do they go both defense at that point if they had taken Phaneuf the year before? I'm not so sure.

Would Bergeron have helped Pittsburgh?

Patrice Bergeron was the best player in the 2003 draft. He went with the 45th overall pick to the Boston Bruins. The Pittsburgh Penguins had the No.1 overall pick that year and selected goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. That is not a bad pick by any stretch, but with one of the best two-way forwards of all-time available to them, would Pittsburgh have been able to pass him up knowing how good he really was?

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE CAPITALS TALK PODCAST

The interesting thing about this is that if Pittsburgh had taken arguably the better player in Bergeron, it may have cost them in the long run. Fleury was the backstop of three Stanley Cup runs for the Penguins. OK, so he only played in two playoff games in 2016 and yielded the crease to Matt Murray, but he retook the No. 1 job in 2017 when again Pittsburgh won the Cup. Also, just two years after the 2003 draft, the Penguins ended up with a pretty decent two-way center by the name of Sidney Crosby. The idea of a team with both Crosby and Bergeron on it is daunting, but its two players of the same position and they would have still needed a goalie.

The Penguins may not have ended up with the better player overall, but they did get exactly the player they needed in Fleury.

Fleury to Columbus?

In the redraft, Fleury dops from first to fourth and is snagged by the Columbus Blue Jackets. Would Fleury have been able to get Columbus over the playoff hump sooner? That's a tough question to answer.

Goaltending has not been a major weakness for Columbus. Yes, he could have given the team a boost, but the roster was awful there for several years after the expansion draft. When the team did finally make the playoffs for the first time in 2009, it was off the back of an incredible rookie season from goalie Steve Mason. They also had a pretty good netminder in Sergei Bobrovsky from 2013 to 2019, or at least he was pretty good in the regular season.

Correction: regular season goaltending has not been a major weakness for Columbus. Actually, Bobrovsky was terrible in the playoffs for much of his career. Perhaps there is some validity to the argument that better netminding from Fleury -- who is a strong postseason performer -- could have potentially changed the trajectory of the franchise.

See the first round of 2003 redrafted here.

Stay connected to the Capitals with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE CAPITALS NEWS:

Quick Links

Should Caps' Braden Holtby, other soon-to be free agents consider skipping NHL restart?

Should Caps' Braden Holtby, other soon-to be free agents consider skipping NHL restart?

When the 2019-20 NHL season does come to a conclusion, whenever that may be, Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby will become a free agent shortly after. Holtby, one of the league's better netminders, is expected to earn a lucrative contract this offseason.

With all the moving parts to the resumption of the NHL season -- the league and NHLPA have yet to come to an agreement on a hub city (or cities)-- and the rising cases in coronavirus cases nationwide, it's unclear when the league will return. Training camps open on July 10, yet the NHL and NHLPA are in the midst of finalizing a new Collective Bargaining Agreement that has raised questions about when the games will resume.

But, when hockey does return, it's worth wondering if Holtby should consider skipping the remainder of the season. NBC Sports Washington analyst Craig Laughlin explained on The Sports Junkies Wednesday why Holtby and other soon-to-be free agents could consider opting out of the restart.

"What happens to Braden Holtby?" Laughlin said. "Does he want to risk the opportunity to play rather than risk health, even getting injured during this time when he's up for a very lucrative long-term deal? Those are the players that may have to think about the return."

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE CAPITALS TALK PODCAST

In both the MLB and NBA, several players have decided to forgo the rest of the season due to concerns about the coronavirus. Wizards sharpshooter Davis Bertans, who is a free agent after this season, opted-out of the restart to preserve his health with a large payday looming. Several other NBA players have decided to skip out on Orlando, too. Ryan Zimmerman and Joe Ross have both declined to participate in the 2020 MLB season for the Nationals.

Yet, in hockey, it may be different. The league is resuming its season with a modified 24-team playoff, meaning there are no regular-season games remaining. With the season so close to finishing, the decision for Holtby to leave his team as they begin a Stanley Cup run could be a difficult one.

While Holtby does have personal reasons to skip out on the season's resumption, Laughlin doesn't envision him, or any other hockey players, voluntarily choosing to sit out.

RELATED: WHAT IF THE SEASON NEVER PAUSED?

"I don't think so," Laughlin said on players opting out. "I don't think that's going to happen. I think the players generally want to play. I really do think, when it's all said and done, they will all be back and participating for the Stanley Cup."

Stay connected to the Capitals with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE CAPITALS NEWS: