The Mighty Ducks: Hockey with Heart
It's a now-classic story. A successful lawyer that nobody liked turned hockey coach and mentor was the central character of a 1992 sports movie that has inspired viewers for more than two decades. Standing strong in the face of adversity, the once cocky dude drunk driving his fancy car and partying like there’s no tomorrow amazingly leads his team of untrained rookies to get over their hurdles – on and off the ice - and win the most important hockey match of their lives.
“The Mighty Ducks” starred Emilio Estevez as Gordon Bombay, the high-end lawyer order to coach a Peewee hockey team from a poorer district without facilities and appropriate equipment. You almost begin to wonder if the district even cared if the players knew the difference between a hockey player’s ice skates and those used for figure skating. But as Gordon’s inner connection and commitment with his players grows stronger, he's able to re-channel his past struggles by reconnecting with the little boy inside of him. As Gordon’s Ducks prepare for the championship – their biggest match against their stark rivals led by Gordon’s old teammate still bitter from their past loss (which Gordon screwed up) – they learn an important life lesson. They realize that no matter what happens in any competition, win or lose, their faith in their team must remain strong. In the end, it's that faith which becomes the fire lighting the path towards a compelling team performance.
Interestingly, the film didn't focus on hockey as a sport where hustling, hard-hitting players battle on ice. Nor did it zero in on showing a glorified "wrestling on ice" drawing frenzy from crazed fans in the crowd. Hockey was shown as the setting of an inspirational story of one broken man and his team of fighters determined to face their fears. It painted a sport where players and coaches come together in the spirit of hard work, commitment, friendship, unity, and selflessness. Kinda mushy but inspiring.
The 1992 film spawned a series was a box-office hits. But even better, it conveyed an important message. It showed the importance of shaping our children’s self-worth and connection with others through the discipline gained from playing sports. You might get misty eyed here and there while watching this movie. That makes The Mighty Ducks all the better.