Recasting the Mighty Ducks Movie Franchise with Current NHL Players
Chances are that most of our younger American readers were first exposed to the sport of hockey thanks to the Mighty Ducks movie franchise.
Sandwiched in between other classic hockey flicks like Slap Shot and Miracle, the Mighty Ducks was the story of a ragtag group of kids with plenty of love for hockey (and none of the skill required to succeed), taken over by a disgruntled coach who would end up turning around the team and his outlook on life all in one season.
Naturally, the squad would go on to play in international tournaments, simply by adding a cowboy and a fast kid who never learned how to stop.
The Mighty Ducks series is essential viewing for any young sports fan, and even fans outside of Anaheim might have trouble watching real NHL games without catching glimpses of the films.
So, if the film were recast using modern NHL players, who would earn the big-name roles?
Here are my choices for the all-NHL cast of the movies. Add your thoughts (and cast the characters I skipped) in the comments section below.
Guy Germaine and Connie Moreau...
Connie was the token girl on the original Ducks teams, and she was the object of Guy's affection.
Little Guy may not have been the most talented or memorable of the team, but it was impossible to hate his heart and passion. And while he may have been small, he did not hesitate to defend his woman's honor.
Until Carrie Underwood laces up a pair of skates, the NHL remains without an actual couple on the ice. So who has great chemistry, would do anything for each other, and are totally inseparable?
There's only one pair who can match this cute couple...
Henrik and Daniel Sedin?
Henrik and Daniel may embody all those traits, but comparing them to a couple is just wrong. If the movie franchise taught us nothing else, it's that ties are like kissing your sister, and (are you listening Stephen A. Smith?) there are no ties in hockey!
Besides, kissing your twin brother is way worse than kissing your sister. Kissing a twin is probably more like losing thanks to some circus concoction that ruins the integrity of 65 minutes of hard-fought hockey.
You know, the shootout.
...Mike Richards and Jeff Carter
Now there's hockey's cutest unrelated couple!
Carter and Richards were drafted in the same round, won a Calder Cup with the same team, played for the same NHL franchise and (we assume) picked up coeds from the same parties every weekend.
When Flyers GM Paul Holmgren did the unthinkable and broke the couple up via trades to Columbus and Los Angeles respectively, many thought the bromance was over.
But love knows no bounds and within eight months, the brothers would be reunited, winning a Stanley Cup with the same franchise (the Kings) in true Connie and Guy fashion.
Connie and Guy would embrace after their championship, while Richards and Carter probably made sure to have a few sets of twins in between them for their Stanley Cup canoodling.
Luis Mendoza will always hold a special place in our hearts for being the guy so freaking fast that apparently he could qualify as one of the top hockey players in the country without having to bother to learn how to, you know, stop.
The Mendoza show was all about speed. Get ahead of the defense and hope for the best. And since Scott Hartnell and his #Hartnelldown campaign have the falling down part but not the speed, we'll have to go with one of the NHL's fresh faces who whizzes by in a blur of his own.
Not only is Carl Hagelin the unofficial "fastest skater" in the NHL, he also recorded the fastest time in the history of the NHL SuperSkills Competition, beating Colin Greening in last year's race.
Hagelin has blinding speed that make him an asset in the dump-and-chase game, and like Mendoza joining the Ducks in the second movie, Hagelin is still a newcomer in the NHL.
Head coach John Tortorella is no doubt pleased that he doesn't have to weigh Hagelin's Mendoza-like speed against the accompanying clumsiness.
Like most of the players who were added to the Ducks in D2, Kenny Wu has a gimmick.
The smallest player on the team, Wu is a former Olympic figure skater, who picked up a hockey stick and learned to dance his way through opposing defenses, quite literally.
A little guy with a figure skating background? This one writes itself!
Carolina's Jeff Skinner has used figure skating to become one of the league's top skaters, and his training has allowed for him to overcome his diminutive stature.
Unless Brian Boitano is giving the NHL a try and I didn't hear about it, there is no NHL match better for Wu than Skinner.
"It's knuckle-puck time!"
When Team USA needed a ringer to help them score from the point, the gang found Russ Tyler and his innovative, untrackable slap shot.
So who in the NHL serves as the impact defenseman with the sick shot?
No one in the NHL today intentionally utilizes the knuckler the way Russ Tyler does, but Justin Schultz fits the bill as a high-scoring defenseman.
The Oilers picked Schultz up in a similarly fortunate fashion, as the University of Wisconsin player refused to sign a contract with the team that drafted him (believe it or not, the Ducks), and the Oilers won Schultz's heart among the handful of teams that offered Schultz a maximum deal.
He has proven his worth in this, his first NHL season, as he already sits tied for fourth in the league in goals among defensemen with six.
The witty, sarcastic ginger may not have the most skill in the world, but he provides the comic relief and is a major part of the Ducks' locker room chemistry.
A player like Averman has value that far exceed the scoresheet, no matter how irritating he can be.
When it comes to agitating, irritating and mugging for the camera, there is no one in hockey quite like Scott Hartnell.
He can be brash; he can be witty, and he would fit right in on the Ducks because of his heart of gold. And the red, curly locks make this Flyer a lock for Averman.
The "bashier" half of the Bash Brothers is Dean Portman, the juvenile delinquent who joined the team in the second movie and teamed up with Fulton Reed to make up the squad's intimidating first defensive pair.
Dean Portman is fearless, rough and more than a little cheap but still as likable as anyone on the roster.
Shea Weber smashing Henrik Zetterberg's face into the glass tells you all you need to know about his connection to Dean Portman.
His emotions get the best of him, but he'll use his toughness in order to win. That's what makes Weber one of the best defensemen in hockey.
We all remember Fulton Reed as the Bash Brother whose shot was so powerful, it made everyone on the ice (and everyone in the stands) run for cover.
Fulton wasn't exactly a master of hitting the net, but his slapper was completely unstoppable.
Did anyone ever clock Fulton Reed at 108.8?
He seemed to be flirting with triple digits as a teenager, so we might like to believe that Fulton could have competed in the Hardest Shot portion of the SuperSkills Competition, but in the real world, Zdeno Chara and Zdeno Chara alone is the master of the slap shot.
In fact, the only way to make this portion of the skills challenge more exciting next season would be to bring a fictional Fulton Reed onto the ice (and maybe a young Al MacInnis, too).
Chara would have no problem fitting in as a Bash Brother, either.
Julie "The Cat" Gaffney...
Julie the Cat joined the Ducks in the second movie and became the starting netminder for the third, after stoning the infamous Gunner Stahl (unrelated to Eric, Jordan and Marc) on a penalty shot to win the gold medal.
Julie is known as much for her lightning-fast reflexes as she is for the incredible way she burst onto the hockey scene, taking everyone by surprise and pouncing the beloved Goldberg from his own crease before the trilogy was over.
Let's face it; you didn't know Viktor Fasth's name any better than Goldberg knew Julie's name at the beginning of D2. But when given the chance to prove himself, Fasth has suddenly become the talk of the town.
Appropriately playing for the Ducks themselves, Fasth has overtaken the role of starter from Jonas Hiller and recently signed a contract extension, ensuring himself another two years with the team the way Julie earned herself a second movie role.
There aren't many NHL players who wind up on a team because of a zoning technicality. Though if I were writing this article a decade ago, it might be appropriate to make Banks Eric Lindros and reference the strange legal twists and turns that eventually got Lindros sent to Philadelphia instead of New York.
But since we are using current NHL players, it seems pertinent to focus on the fact that Banks is a bit of a journeyman by Mighty Ducks standards, hopping between rivals and being touted as a key piece in a potential victory.
He is, at times, a lone wolf and always a very skilled player. Banks is a strong second-tier leader behind Charlie Conway and lets his play on the ice speak louder than the gossip in the locker room.
Marian Hossa famously wandered around the NHL for a few years, playing in Pittsburgh when they lost the Stanley Cup to Detroit, then signing a one-year contract with Detroit only to lose the Stanley Cup to Pittsburgh and finally achieving the ultimate goal with Detroit's Original Six rival, the Chicago Blackhawks.
Through it all, Hossa has been a class act and one of the best all-around players in the game. His loyalty and integrity has been called into question by emotional fans, but he has ultimately proven himself to be an icon in the sport, much like Banks.
Greg Goldberg (Defenseman)...
I'm going to make Goldberg into a two-part segment, because he played two distinct roles in the series.
After Julie the Cat took over in net, Goldberg graciously moved to defense, where he scored the winning goal against the varsity team to cap of the trilogy in style.
There is plenty of potential to draw comparisons about Goldberg and Byfuglien's propensity for eating, but that's not where the comparison comes from.
In fact, Byfuglien is similar to Goldberg in his versatility. Byfuglien played forward for the Chicago Blackhawks during their run to the Stanley Cup, becoming a thorn in the sides of goaltenders as he screened them and pounced on rebounds in front of the crease.
The Atlanta Thrashers moved Byfuglien to the blue line, where he has also thrived. Only Ottawa's Erik Karlsson had more points than Byfuglien in the 2011-12 season (among defensemen).
Greg Goldberg (Goalie)...
Goldberg's bread-and-butter was his goaltending, and before Julie the Cat arrived on the scene, he led the Ducks to victory from the crease.
He didn't exactly light the world on fire with his play, but he always played well enough to win and came up with some key saves despite his less-than-athletic physique.
When it comes to goalies who can be really hot or really cold, Roberto Luongo tops the list.
Like Goldberg, Luongo is more than capable of carrying his team. And like Goldberg, you aren't exactly shocked if he gives up seven or eight goals, either.
Luongo now finds himself with his own Julie the Cat in the form of Cory Schneider, a backup who is threatening to steal the starting role. Who knows, maybe we'll see Lu hop onto the ice with the Sedins and score a Cup-winning goal?
Even more so than Coach Bombay, Charlie is the natural leader of the Ducks.
Before Gordon comes around to the idea of coaching the bumbling hockey team, Charlie serves as the foundation of the team. Throughout the series, he does whatever it takes to keep the team together, even giving up his spot on the ice in D2 so that no one has to be cut from the team.
He represents more than just skill; Charlie is integrity, love of the game and true leadership.
Is there any player in the league who embodies Charlie Conway more than Shane Doan?
Doan is loyal to the Coyotes to a fault, sticking with the franchise through rough seasons and ownership turmoil. Even after being one of the most sought-after free agents this past offseason, Doan remained in the desert.
On top of it, Doan is skilled, tough and determined. He might not have the hardware that Charlie does, but the two are not just similar players, they are similar people. It's almost a shame that Doan never made his way to Anaheim and switched his jersey number to 96.
Gordon Bombay started with nothing and after plenty of resistance, built a team that would become champions.
As a person, his name became synonymous with the team to the point that he was selected to coach the national squad in D2. He took a team of trash-talkers, practical jokers and zero confidence and made them victorious.
That is difficult to do as a coach. Who in the NHL best embodies the ability to become successful when starting with nothing?
He may not have the hardware yet, but Barry Trotz is a real-life Gordon Bombay.
Trotz was brought to the Predators when the franchise was founded and is the only head coach Nashville has ever had. Over the years, not only has he built a competitive team, but he has made hockey relevant in the state of Tennessee.
Trotz has taken teams that rarely have a true superstar and made them into playoff contenders, qualifying for the postseason in seven of the last eight years. He is a smart coach and the longest-tenured in the league by nearly seven years.
Trotz is to the Preds what Bombay became to the Ducks.