Claude Lemieux & Jody Shelley: Sharks' Version of the Bash Brothers?
For those of us sports fans who grew up during the 1980s and 1990s, one of the quintessential movie series of our generation was Disney's The Mighty Ducks.
The trilogy, most popularly known as D1, D2, and D3, took the story of a hot-shot pee-wee hockey player who returns to the game after a long layoff when his boss forces him to take time away from his firm to coach pee-wee hockey as a form of community service.
The character of Gordon Bombay grows up playing hockey in Minnesota on a perennial championship team during his youth, but stopped playing when he became an adult.
The first Mighty Ducks film starts out with Bombay being forced to coach the worst team in Minneapolis' pee-wee league, a team named District 5.
His first game as coach comes against the pee-wee team he formerly played for that is still coached by the man he played for during his youth.
Long story short, Coach Bombay becomes attached to his team and starts getting them to play hard and rewards them with changing their team name to the "Mighty Ducks".
Along the way, Bombay found one of his team's premiere players in the alley of residential street in Minneapolis. Fulton Reed (the character name of the first "bash brother" who is pictured on the right side of the article photo) wires a rocket-hard slap-shot that broke the window of Bombay's van. (An incident that many of us California street-hockey players can relate to)
Bombay then runs Fulton down and gets him to join his team.
The first movie ends with the Ducks defying the odds and winning the championship, a finish that we should all expect from Walt Disney.
However, in the second movie we are introduced to the second bash brother, Dean Portman.
In both the second and third installments of the Mighty Ducks series, both Fulton Reed and Dean Portman serve as the famous "Bash Brothers".
The two pair up as intimidating, physical forces that pave the way for Ducks playmakers, Charlie Conway (played by Joshua Jackson), Adam Banks, and their backup goaltender (Goldberg, the goalie!) to score winning goals for the team.
In the third installment, both Reed and Portman lead the Ducks in a rematch of the underdog JV hockey team versus the varsity squad at their private high school. As made for the movie, seemingly every hit by Reed and Portman had the opposing team's players breaking through the glass and into the stands.
Now the Mighty Ducks players are just actors in a movie, so it may be a bit of a stretch to relate their players to the real-life Sharks.
However, with enforcer Jody Shelley and world-class agitator Claude Lemieux currently anchoring the Sharks' fourth line, San Jose is now not just the most talented team in the league, but one of the hardest to play against physically.
It is still early, and after only two games under their belts, it is hard to approximate how long the current fourth line will stay together. But in those two games, the Sharks have allowed just one goal, while scoring five of their own.
Granted, none of the five goals were generated by the fourth line, but so far, players on opposing teams are thinking twice before taking shots at the Sharks' top players like Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau.
And I would, too. Shelley and Lemieux pose an immensely scary double threat out on the ice. A threat, that in particular, will be quite interesting to witness when the Sharks collide with their biggest rival, the current defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings.
Lemieux has a significant history playing against Detroit, taking a cheap shot to the head of the Red Wings' Kris Draper a few years back in the playoffs. Essentially, Lemieux is not a welcomed face in Motown. The Red Wings and their fans very much despise the Sharks' forward. With the agitator that Lemieux can be, his presence in the Sharks' lineup may play a significant part in helping San Jose knock off Detroit on their way to potentially its first Stanley Cup finals appearance.
Unfortunately for my hopes of seeing these two become the Sharks' version of the "Bash Brothers", the Sharks will be getting two players back from injury in the upcoming months. Jeremy Roenick and Torrey Mitchell are both regulars in the Sharks' lineup and will soon be back off injured reserve.
The candidates for them to replace are Shelley, Marcel Goc, Lemieux and Tomas Plihal. Neither Goc nor Plihal have given head coach Todd McLellan any reason to drop them from the lineup with their play over the last month. Which leaves Shelley and Lemieux on the chopping block. Either way, it is a good problem for the Sharks, having so much depth on their checking line.
However, as for me, I hope to see more of Shelley and Lemieux teaming up on the fourth line and being my Sharks' version of the "Bash Brothers".
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