Bantering Around: Mike and Tom draft the kids from the Mighty Ducks movies

Let them eat cake

Some things simply refuse to erode and diminish to the cruel ravages of time — or, at the very least, they decay at a slower rate, like a McDonald’s fry that has tumbled into sanctuary beneath a car seat, remaining alarmingly well-preserved until it is discovered many months later. Over the years, cinema has provided us with precious few manifestations of entertainment that are deserving of distinction of being timeless.

The Mighty Ducks movies aren’t among them.

Recently, Tom Urtz Jr. and I re-watched the Mighty Ducks films for the Bantering the Blueshirts podcast. Getting through them was an absolute slog, but it provided us with something resembling hockey content during this strange time. It also gave us an opportunity to think long and hard about something that is somehow even more ridiculous than drafting characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

We drafted the kids from the Mighty Ducks until we each had our own starting six. Here’s how it went.

Round One

Much to my agony, Tom got the first overall pick.

Tom’s Pick: Adam Banks

Banks is, by far, the best player in the series. He’s the franchise forward you build not only an offense, but an entire team around — even if he is injury-prone and very much a polo-shirt-wearing cake-eater.

Gordon Bombay more or less flirted with civil war and destroying the little locker room chemistry he had to pilfer Banks from the Hawks in the first film. Nothing says “family-friendly Disney sports movie” like an ambulance-chasing lawyer prying a child from all of his friends so that he can play for his team instead, which he is only coaching as part of his community service for drunk driving. Quit your crying, Adam.

Bombay rode Banks’ talent to a lucrative partnership with Hendrix Hockey — because hockey equipment manufacturers are known to offer dump trucks of cash to coaches of junior hockey teams.

Mike’s Pick: Julie “The Cat” Gaffney

Gaffney is superior to Goldberg in every way. She won the state championship for Maine three years in a row during while Bombay was duct-taping Goldberg into net so that he would get over his fear of the puck.

“They strapped him on the net there and started firing pucks,” Henrik Lundqvist reflected in an NHLPA video. “My first reaction was: that’s kind of mean. You know?”

Yes Hank, yes it was. Also, it may or may not have been child abuse. Coach Bombay, folks.

To be clear, you don’t need to point out how awful Goldberg is to recognize how good Gaffney was in the movies. She’s dedicated, intense, and competitive. She’s so good that she literally apologizes to her teammates for stopping their shots during practice.

Gaffney made the biggest save in the series when she stopped Gunnar Stahl in the shootout in D2. She also didn’t resort to attempting to fatten up her competition to steal starts in the third movie like Goldberg did.

Goldberg, you’re a real piece of shit.

Round Two

Tom’s Pick: Guy Germaine

Tom went off the board to draft one of the most underrated players in the franchise with his second pick.

The love-struck Guy is best remembered for his infatuation with Connie Moreau and for dressing like he was going to a Spin Doctors concert. This kid probably smelled a lot like a wet hemp bracelet. However, Guy also looked competent and productive on the ice even if he was one-dimensional off of it. In the movies, he made a lot of passes that led to goals and generally looked quite good at hockey.

He was probably the team’s best forward before Banks joined the team in the first movie, which means Tom’s forwards are a force to be reckoned with just two rounds into the draft.

Mike’s Pick: Jesse Hall

Despite the fact that his brother Terry is mysteriously absent from the second movie, Jesse is one of the Ducks’ best players through the first two-thirds of the trilogy.

He’s a natural leader, the spearhead of the Flying-V, and actually has the backbone to call Bombay out on his shit. Seriously though, where the hell is Terry Hall? Why was this never addressed in the movies? Was he not “good enough” for the team in D2? A child is missing. Stop rollerskating through the Mall of America and picking fights with Trinidad and Tobago and find your brother, Jesse.

After Tom picked Banks and Guy, I know I needed an elite forward and Jesse was the best player left on the board. Like Banks, he’s a proven finisher and a player you can build a line around.

Round Three

Tom’s Pick: Fulton Reed

Tom crushed my heart with this pick.

The baby-faced tough guy with a slap shot that deformed the hands of goalies foolish enough to try and stop it, Fulton Reed will be a big weapon on Tom’s team. Although he’s a poor skater, Fulton’s shot and strength are elite in this player pool. Even more importantly, he’s one of the few skaters who is probably a natural defender — it’s really hard to tell who the hell plays defense in these movies.

We discovered that the Ducks have 13 players on their active roster in D2 and 11 kids in the first movie. So, as a defenseman, Fulton probably played like 40 minutes a game.

Mike’s Pick: Dwayne Robertson

The flashy, puck-handling wizard from Texas has the best hands of any of the kids in the film series. Dwayne may be a bit of a hayseed and may or may not have been revealed to be illiterate in the third movie, but he has a unique skill set that translates well to the modern game. At least, that’s what I told myself when I drafted him while I was processing the disappointment of Tom taking Fulton.

I also felt that I needed another skilled forward to deal with the fact that Tom’s team will be led by Banks. Some of you are probably wondering why I didn’t take Charlie Conway. I didn’t take Charlie because I consider him to be overrated — more on that later. I wanted skill. I wanted someone who could carry the puck into the offensive zone and draw defenders to them.

I wanted the cowboy. God help me, I wanted the cowboy.

Round Four

Tom’s Pick: Russ Tyler

When I drafted Gaffney, I figured Tom’s last pick of the draft would be Goldberg. Because why take the only other goalie in the draft before the sixth round if I already have my goalie? Well, Tom went rogue and drafted Russ Tyler, portrayed by SNL’s Keenan Thompson, as his goalie.

Tom pointed out that Russ suits up as a goalie for a trick play in D2 to use his famous knuckle-puck. Who can forget Wolf “The Dentist” Stansson hollering, “ZE GOALIE!!!” from Iceland’s bench during that scene? Honestly, people have sounded less alarmed when making others aware that a hand grenade has landed at their feet.

Tom pointed out that Russ would be a great puck-handling goalie and is obviously a better athlete than Goldberg, which I have to agree with. To be honest, this was a damn clever thing to do. I am still bitter about it because I had planned on taking Tyler after Tom took Reed.

Mike’s Pick: Connie Moreau

Tom has Guy, I have Connie. The way I see it, they balance each other out and I took her off the board two rounds after Tom grabbed Guy.

There are a lot of characters in these films who have flaws as players: Luis Mendoza can’t stop, Fulton Reed can barely skate, Dean Portman is probably on black market HGH, Goldberg can’t stop pucks, Dwayne Robertson showboats, etc. Connie and Guy are noteworthy exceptions to this pattern.

Although they are both shallow characters because they are largely defined by their puppy love, Connie and Guy are also two of the best players on the Ducks. Like Guy, Connie is instrumental to the Ducks’ success in the franchise. She appears to be a well-balanced player without any glaring holes in her game. Did you know that Isobel Cup and Clarkson Cup champion Brooke White-Lancette was the stunt double for Connie in D2 and D3? Well, you do now.

In the movies, Connie is mature beyond her years which makes her stand out in the best way from peers who play pranks involving dog shit and shaving cream. To me, that translates into discipline on the ice and someone who has the right mentality to play a 200-foot game as a defender.

Round Five

Tom’s Pick: Charlie Conway

The captain. The kid who was too lawful-good to fake being cut in the eye to draw a penalty even though his coach explicitly instructed him to. Mr. Triple-Deke. It was only a matter of time before Charlie Conway was drafted.

As I stated earlier, I feel like Charlie is overrated in the movies, but I have to admit he was a steal this late in the draft.

For whatever reason, I was annoyed that Charlie volunteered to be a healthy scratch in D2 to make room for a healthy Adam Banks in the championship game against Iceland. Sure, that was something a good leader would do. But a great leader would have told Portman, Goldberg, or Averman to eff of so that he and Banks could both play.

We spend more time with Charlie than any other character in the trilogy. We watch him develop from a choke-artist with a good heart in the first movie into the embodiment of teen angst in D3. Was it hard getting a scholarship to a prestigious private school only to be told you needed to earn your captaincy under a new coach, Charlie? AND you have to maintain at least a B average? God. Adults are just the worst.

Apparently, hormones made a deep impact on Charlie, almost as deep as the impact coach Bombay had on his mom. Boom. Roasted.

Mike’s Pick: Luis Mendoza

“I clocked him at 1.9 seconds, blue line to blue line.” - Don Tibbles

So what if he can’t stop? You can teach someone to do a hockey stop. What you can’t teach is bitchin’, blazin’ speed and Mendoza has that in spades. Hell, he was even fast in Sandlot as Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez.

Speed and skating are vital to success in the modern game and Luis’ game-breaking speed will be a huge boon to my team. Even if his hands lack the quickness of his feet, his explosive stride should create space for his linemates, draw penalties, and make him a target for stretch passes which should lead to zone entries.

Mendoza may be a work-in-progress, but there is a lot to work with here. He’s like having on-brand Play-Doh or something. I bet he even smells good.

Round Six

Tom’s Pick: Dean Portman

Portman is a total a-hole who flakes on the team when he finds out that Bombay wouldn’t be with them in the third movie. He’s an undisciplined, curfew-breaking bully who only made the Ducks because Tibbles told Bombay that he would need him against Iceland.

With all of that being said, Portman is one of the few defensemen in this player pool. Also, he’s in good shape — well, he has glamour muscles. Considering that three of the kids who were in the Mighty Ducks movies were also in the cult classic Heavyweights, glamour muscles are a big plus here.

By drafting Portman, Tom reunited the Bash Brothers, which I’m not entirely sure is a good thing. But my team will have no chance against his in the corners or in front of the net. He monopolized all of the most physical players. The crafty bastard.

Tom’s final lineup: Portman and Reed on defense, Tyler in goal, and Banks, Conway, and Germaine as his three forwards. I’m not going to lie, that’s a damn good team even if Tyler is unproven as a goalie and two of his players are prone to taking penalties.

Mike’s Pick: Kenny Wu

I closed out my draft with Kenny Wu.

Multi-sport background? Check. Brilliant skating ability? Check. Fearless even when coming eye-to-eye with Icelandic monsters who could probably eat him? Check. Kenny is filled with untapped potential. With his figure skating background, he could be the next Jeff Skinner, but without the $9 million cap hit for the next seven years. Oh, Buffalo.

Wu may be relatively new to the whole hockey thing, but he comes off as a seasoned vet who has undergone a significant growth spurt in D3. Besides, the most critical skill for any hockey player is skating and Kenny is the best all-around skater in the series. That makes him incredibly versatile and valuable.

I also like how he sticks up for himself and can take a hit. He’s the closet thing to Mats Zuccarello in these movies and for that reason alone I love him and will fight to the death to protect him.

Due to a severe shortage of capable defenders, Wu and Moreau will patrol my blue line in front of goaltending prodigy Julie “the Cat” Gaffney. That means my forwards are Jesse Hall, Luis Mendoza, and Dwayne Robertson. To be honest, I’m not sure I like my team any more than Tom’s, but my team does have decidedly fewer d-bags and cake-eaters.