Recently, the NHL announced Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, and the Islanders’ John Tavares as the three finalists for the 2013 Hart Trophy, which reigns supreme among the pantheon of obscurely-named hockey trophies, which is awarded to the MVP of the league.
I’m sure a case can be made for each of these players winning the award. However, like the vast majority of the sports-viewing public outside of Canada, I simply don’t follow the NHL close enough to make those arguments. (For me, the name “Tavares” conjures up memories of former Minnesota Vikings quarterback Tarvaris Jackson being choke slammed by Chris Clemons during an interception return.) I can, however, weigh-in on a certain hockey debate that has confounded sports-movie lovers for decades: Who is the MVP of Disney’s The Mighty Ducks trilogy?
Remember those skinny guys from Nintendo’s Ice Hockey? That’s essentially Luis Mendoza. He’s super-fast, but since he can’t stop, he spends almost half his time on his butt. If he had spent half as much time focusing on how to stop as he does on learning the anatomy of the cheerleaders at Eden Hall Academy, he might have become hockey’s version of Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez from The Sandlot.
An outspoken trash-talker with a gimmicky shot, Russ Tyler is nothing more than a conflation of the Jesse Hall and Fulton Reed characters. When Team USA plays inner-city L.A. youths in a game of street hockey during D2, it’s Russ’ unnamed brother who proves to be the better player, schooling the Ducks both with his skills and with his advice. And yet, in order to capitalize on the mass appeal of Kenan Thompson, it’s one-trick-pony, Russ Tyler, who makes the team and prevents Charlie Conway from suiting up for the most important game of his life.
Kenny Wu acts as nothing more than a fill-in for Tammy Duncan when, for undisclosed reasons, she and her brother Tommy don’t rejoin the team in the second movie. He’s small, soft, and, despite his brief stint as the “Little Bash Brother,” Kenny “Yamag-Wu-chi” should only be mentioned in rumors about who could help revive “Skating with the Stars,” and not in a scholarly debate to determine the MVP of the Mighty Ducks.
“The Velvet Hammer” is a model of consistency, and, until Bombay unearths the Hawks’ gerrymandering scheme to keep Adam Banks out of Division 5, Guy Germaine is the most skilled player on the Ducks. Connie and Guy are part of only a handful of players to appear in all three films in the trilogy, but they’re more concerned with being each other’s most valuable player than being the MVP for the Ducks.
If “The Cat” spent more time in the net and less time making googly-eyes at Gunner Stahl, she could be a legitimate MVP candidate. Renowned throughout Bangor, ME for her glove skills, she’s clearly the most talented netminder on the squad. However, she lacks the mental tenacity to win the starting job until D3 where her lack of focus causes her to fall victim to Goldberg’s dietary sabotage. By the end of her career, she has undergone the unfortunate transformation from “The Cat” into “The Fat.”
Dean Portman’s brash-and-bash personality makes him one of the more memorable players on the Ducks, but he spends too much time in the penalty box to be a true MVP contender. He gets ejected mere seconds into during Team USA’s first game with Iceland, and he only appears at the end of the third movie to perform a striptease in the penalty box. For all his charisma, Portman’s primary role is to absolve Goldberg for being accused of every flatulent episode.
Goldberg is much more versatile than people give him credit for. At Eden Hall, he makes the transformation to defensemen and scores the winning goal in the game against the Varsity. But if we look at his career as a whole, Goldberg is the proverbial- and literal- weight holding the Ducks down. His GAA average is more inflated than Wolf “The Dentist” Stansson’s ego, which ultimately costs him his job. The only way Goldberg could be the MVP is if he stole somebody else’s identity- like when he posed as Aaron Spelling’s nephew in order to get a private fashion show.
No one can dispute that Adam Banks is the overall most talented player on the Ducks roster. If anyone else on the team wore #99, it would blaspheme the legacy of Wayne Gretzky, but Banks gets a pass because he’s the most skilled player ever to come out of Edina, MN. Unfortunately, Banks is frailer than a liquid-nitrogen-covered-uniform and about as loyal as Mr. Ducksworth. He spends more time on injured reserve or skating with another team than he does actually playing for the Ducks. If he could stay healthy and be content to stay with the flock, he would be the unanimous selection for MVP. Instead, the only title he’s worthy of is “Cake Eater.”
Yes, Charlie serves as the undisputed moral conscience and Captain of the Ducks. Yes, Charlie scores the winning goal in the shootout with the Hawks at the end of the first movie. Yes, Charlie sacrifices his roster spot in the Gold Medal game against Iceland so that Banks can play. But we’re talking most valuable player, not most valuable player-coach. This isn’t Pro Beach Hockey.
Sure, Conway had his moments and provided the leadership that kept the Ducks together during the staged walkout led by that twerp Peter Mark. (Though interestingly, Charlie attempts a failed walkout of his own against Coach Orion in D3). But the truth is, Charlie isn’t a particularly talented skater or scorer. He’s certainly in the MVP discussion, but at the end of the day, he’s much more worthy of the King Clancy Memorial Trophy (awarded to the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities both on and off the ice and has made a positive impact on his community.)
Fulton Reed takes the best traits of all the Ducks’ players and combines them to form an unstoppable junior hockey juggernaut. His large frame and bone-crushing forecheck earn him the reputation as one-half of the “Bash Brothers.”
Despite being an outcast at the beginning of the first film, Fulton develops a fierce loyalty to the team. Admittedly, he quits the team with Charlie in D3, but only because Coach Orion tampers with the Ducks’ founding ethos. However, it should also be noted that he’s the only other Duck besides Charlie to show support for Coach Bombay during Peter’s mutiny.
But the real reason Fulton Reed deserves to be MVP is that slap shot. Sure it’s only on goal one out of five times, but when his aim is true, opposing teams flee out of its way, more than happy to sacrifice a goal in exchange for retaining all their limbs. The guy’s blue line slap shot literally knocks the Iceland goalie out cold in the shootout of the Gold Medal game.
Assuming that Reed scores every five times he shoots the puck (and there’s no reason to believe he doesn’t), his shooting percentage would rank among the highest of any hockey player ever. Combine that with his enforcer personality and his intense dedication to the team, and there is no argument: Fulton Reed is the MVP of the Mighty Ducks.
Who do you think is the MVP of the Mighty Duck trilogy? Holla at us in the comments or hit us up on Twitter @BaconSports
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