Let me preface this by saying that I am not trying to find inaccuracies in the Mighty Ducks. I love this movie, and half the fun of nostalgia is embracing the errors in the movies you loved as a child. We didn’t care when timelines didn’t match up, or if characters mysteriously disappeared from a franchise. We were there for the childhood shenanigans and fun loving hijinks that dominated our train of thought. The Ducks motivated us to try out trick plays, the flying v, and to attempt stunts on our roller blades that our feeble preteen ankles simply weren’t strong enough to handle yet.
This blog is to outline how inept the refereeing was in this hockey league as if it were a real hockey organization that Jesse and Terry’s Dad gave up his overtime pay for.
And while this movie is rife with plot errors larger than Goldberg’s gaping 5-hole, I’m going to let the warm fuzzy memories do the talking. (And, to be fair to Goldberg, he was wearing newspapers on his shins or half the movie)
Also, it’s remarkably unfair that the Ducks have to even play in the same league as the Hawks. One team has potential NHL prospects on it, and the other is made up of borderline homeless children who have to practice on a frozen pond. Who is in charge of this league? Was there no house league division that the Ducks could have been relegated to? The league wouldn’t even give them ice time to practice, why were they forcing them to get shellacked by a bunch of cake eaters?
Anyway, let’s get to the list!
#5. Roughing On Banks Off The Face-Off (Finals vs. The Hawks)
The Call: No penalty
What It Should Have Been Called: Roughing, 2 minutes
Not one, but two players double team Banks and take him out when the puck is long gone. Sure, hockey in the 90’s was a much rougher game, but you still weren’t allowed to cross check a guy from the neck up simply for taking a face-off. The refs set the tone right away allowing this to happen, and doing so, immediately lost control of the game. Coach Riley noticed this, popped his collar up even higher and capitalized.
#4. Jesse Running Interference (Finals vs. The Hawks)
The Call: No penalty
What It Should Have Been Called: Interference, 2 minutes
If you think the Hawks are the only offenders in this movie, think again. The Ducks are no angels themselves, usually because of Bombay’s early season cheat-to-win tactics.
This goal by Fulton should have never happened, as Jesse CLEARLY runs interference on TWO Hawks players directly in front of the referee. You can literally see the ref in the corner watch it happen.
Bombay is the one who puts Jesse up to it, telling him to “give Fulton plenty of time”. It’s easy to do that when you maul two players at once, but sadly, that’s not how it works in hockey.
#3. Charlie Taking A Penalty Shot With No Helmet (Finals vs. The Hawks)
The Call: No Penalty
What It Should Have Been Called: No penalty
This is as simple and routine as it gets. There’s no penalty call here. There’s not even anything to discuss. Just get your damn bucket on, Charlie!
The very first thing a ref should be aware of, without even having to think, is: “are these 11-12 year olds wearing their helmets?”
If the answer is no, you tell them to put their helmet on. You don’t allow them to take a penalty shot right in front of you without it.
“But there’s no one else on the ice that will hit him.” I hear you saying, and while this is true, a player still has to be wearing his helmet at all times while involved in the play, at any level of minor hockey.
This ref is clearly trying to move things along and just finish the game. While the teams and the families are obviously invested in this big championship, the ref likely gave up his nights and weekends for this league and is ready for the season to be over.
And, in all fairness to the ref, these kids were a short while ago wearing skateboard helmets that didn’t even have masks, so he’s probably mentally checked out at this point.
#2. Checking From Behind On Banks On A Breakaway (Finals vs. The Hawks)
The Call: 2 minute penalty
What It Should Have Been Called: 5 minute major and a game misconduct
This is what happens when you let the game get out of hand, Stripes. The refs set a precedent on that first face-off that should have been a roughing call (see #1) and this is the rabbit hole the rest of the game went down because of it.
You have a complete maniac of a coach in Riley, instructing his players to take Banks out of the game, and these impressionable youth go out and follow the coaches orders, not realizing this kind of behaviour will probably result in jail time down the road.
The cross check itself was actually quite soft, but it’s the circumstances of what it led to. Had it been in open ice it may have been let go, but it was a deliberate check to send Banks head first into the post. The ref had no way of knowing it was premeditated, but one glimpse of that lunatic behind the Hawks bench and you could start connecting dots.
A two minute minor penalty would be fine for a cross check, but McGill HOSPITALIZES Banks on the play, and the ref acts like it’s no big deal, like kids get wheeled out on stretchers regularly in the games he officiates. Potential paralysis is a standard minor penalty in Minnesota.
Cake eater or not, this is over the line.
#1. Hit From Behind On Charlie (Game 1 vs. The Hawks)
The Call: No call
What It Should Have Been Called: 5 minute major, a game misconduct, and a lengthy suspension
Show this clip to anyone who has ever played or watched hockey and I promise you they will think it’s hilarious.
Let’s begin with the obvious one – a massive hit from behind. Charlie had just gotten up from a breakaway in which he attempted a slapshot, completely missed (I mean, it wasn’t even close), and slid into the boards. Before we go any further, let’s acknowledge that he lost his helmet in the process, and he begins to claw his way up the boards. As SOON as this takes place, the play should be blown dead by the referee. This isn’t a penalty shot where the rest of the players are safely on their benches, this is smack dab in the middle of the play. Whistle blown, helmet on, faceoff. But, as we’ve learned with this ref, he’s just completely phoned it in on the remainder of this season.
Once Charlie was up on his feet, the Hawk player (who ironically, I think is Adam Banks) comes barreling in at top speed, and cross checks Charlie straight in the numbers, directly from behind, driving his face straight into the glass. His face, mind you, that has no helmet covering it. I don’t think he’s even wearing shoulder pads, just a thick hoodie.
Furthermore, he skates from a good distance (far more than 3 strides, which is considered charging), and on top of all of this, Charlie was nowhere near the puck! He wasn’t even anywhere near the play! He went full Spazzway and ended up in the corner while the puck was probably already back up the ice.
So let’s take a look at the variety of penalties this could and should have been:
1. Checking from behind
3. An unsuspecting player with his helmet off
6. Intent to injure
To top it all off, Coach Riley explodes in a fit of joy and fist pumping to celebrate and energize his players and their borderline criminal style of play. Look at how genuinely happy he is.
If this were a real minor hockey game, the rink full of parents would have been rioting. How was there not a Father trying to take a swing at Riley in the lobby after these games?
This play should and would have been discussed by the convenor of the league, the coach of the team, and the offending player and his parents. It likely would have resulted in a suspension or possibly being kicked out of the league.
But, as was discussed earlier, the convenor let District 5 play with soccer shin pads and jogging pants, so they probably considered these occurrences natural selection.