Joshua Jackson

Mightier than a Miracle

Peter Schrager
Page 3 – May 27, 2004
Thanks to Maya from the message board for bringing this over
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Fantasia or Diana? Diana or Fantasia … I didn’t care.

Once “American Idol” eliminated the red-headed John Stevens, I deemed the show sexist and refused to ever watch it again. Compared to Ruben and Clay, Fantasia versus Diana was like pitting a Kimmel-Corolla episode against the newer Rogan-Stanhope set-up on the “Man Show.” No contest. There are more important things going on this week than anything in which Ryan Seacrest is involved.

For one, the Calgary Flames take on the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Stanley Cup Finals. You’ll hear the propaganda — “Both teams are a joy to watch,” “They play hockey right.” — but the truth is that Gary Bettman probably went “Keith Tkachuk” on a Japanese hotel room when these two teams advanced.

Sure, the energy inside both stadiums will be electric, but there won’t be much buzz coming from the average American audience. Can you imagine the Nielsen Ratings for this one? A re-run of “Sister Sister” might draw more viewers.

Nonetheless, I will be watching each and every one of these contests. Although, I do have a huge bone to pick with the Calgary Flames marketing people. You have a player named Mike Commodore, yet you don’t force him to wear jersey number 64?

Think about the marketing possibilities here: Human games of “Pong” during intermission, Tandy computer giveaway nights, a “California Games” competition between the fans and the players? Why not sign two guys with the last name Nintendo and Atari and have the “Joystick Line”?

Huge missed opportunities here for the Flames PR team.

Disney’s “Miracle” came out on DVD this week. The story of the 1980 United States Olympic hockey squad; it is a wonderful tale of overcoming the odds, working as a team and making dreams come true. Along with “Finding Nemo” and the news that Omarosa from the “The Apprentice” is considering an appearance in Playboy, “Miracle” was one of the few things that brought tears to my eyes this year. The hockey action is great; Al Michaels is on top of his game and Kurt Russell plays a superb Herb Brooks.

However, this wasn’t the first time the folks over at Disney put together such a formula. In fact, as much of a “miracle” as the 1980 Olympic team’s conquest was, it doesn’t hold a candle to the one that occurred in District Five of Minneapolis’s Midget Hockey League in 1992. That’s right, the fairy-tale story of Gordon Bombay’s troops in Disney’s “The Mighty Ducks” is the possibly the greatest miracle story of all. Where my father’s generation sees “Slapshot” as the premier hockey movie of all time, my era looks no further than this Disney classic.

First, let’s just look at exactly what this team did. After starting the season 0-11, they went on to, not only win the league championship, but defeat the Hawks — a squad that won the last eighteen straight years — in the finals.

Tom Kelly’s 1991 Twins may have gone from worst to first, but it had nothing on these mighty Ducks. Sure, Anna Nicole Smith’s turnaround after TrimSpa is impressive, but the kids of D-5 were 0-11! Hell, the Ducks story was so phenomenal, it spawned an actual NHL Franchise!

This team was truly a ragtag bunch. It consisted of an obese goaltender scared of pucks named Goldberg, multiple “cake-eaters” and a pair of figure-skating siblings. The Ducks’ original uniforms included football helmets, shin guards made of newspaper and names written in Sharpee marker over strips of masking tape. Even the Atlanta Hawks lime-green retro jerseys the team wore this year weren’t as bad as these.

Emilio Estevez plays hotshot lawyer Gordon Bombay, who, after getting hit with a driving under the influence charge, is forced by his boss to take some time off and coach a youth hockey team. Bombay, while fighting his own personal hockey demons, learns the meaning of teamwork, “fair play” and love through his experience with the Ducks.

But, the beauty of this movie lies in its wonderful oddities. First off, the Ducks make the playoffs only because the entire Panthers team is stricken with measles.

Next, their main scorer is Fulton Reed, a man-child off the streets who makes Danny Almonte look like a baby. Here we are in an under-12 league, and this kid has more absurd facial hair than the Cubs’ Matt Clement. Reed had a slapshot like Al Macinnis, and broke multiple car windows with his power.

However, the most intriguing subplot of “The Mighty Ducks” possibly lies within the romance between Bombay and team captain Charlie Conway’s mother. How does Conway, a fragile kid as it is, focus on mastering the “triple deke” when his beloved coach is out trying to score his mother?

The Bombay-Charlie Conway’s mom romance brings to mind my top four inter-team romances of sports history:

  1. Phil Jackson and Jeanie Buss: Not only does Phil come swooping into Los Angeles with his Zen nonsense and Gucci suits, but he also takes up with the owner’s daughter. This has to be a little awkward at times.
  2. Jason Taylor and Katina Thomas: The Miami Dolphin defense has been rated among the top ten in the NFL for many consecutive seasons thanks to the dominance of both Jason Taylor and Zack Thomas. A few years back, Taylor married Thomas’s sister, Katina. You’re trying to tell me that the defensive huddle doesn’t ever get uncomfortable with this situation?
  3. Brendan Morrow and Guy Carbonneau’s daughter: This one strikes me as the weirdest of all. Morrow and Carbonneau played on the same line for the Dallas Stars, and yet, the former was dating the latter’s little girl. Still, the ’99 Stars cruise to a Stanley Cup Championship.
  4. Mike Kekich and Fritz Petersen: During Spring Training of 1973, Kekich and Petersen, both members of the New York Yankees swapped wives. This kind of stuff could only happen in an era where not showering was considered cool, Air Supply was considered pure genius and bellbottoms, fashionable.

Of course, “The Mighty Ducks” also introduced the world to the wonder that is better known as Joshua Jackson.

Yes, the same young man who would later star as Pacey Witter in “Dawson’s Creek,” originally was a Mighty Duck. This raises some necessary questions: If Charlie Conway missed that final penalty shot in the movie, would Jackson end up kissing Katie Holmes? Would his face be on that “Seventeen” cover? So many questions left unanswered.

The “Flying V,” the “Adam Banks Controversy” and a Mike Modano cameo all make “The Mighty Ducks” a fixture in any sports fan’s DVD collection. This week, I plan add “Miracle” to my personal stash. But, I won’t lose sight of the other “miracle.” The one that occurred in Minnesota, not Lake Placid.

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