Gordon Bombay was handpicked to fail in D2: The Mighty Ducks, in one of the all-time great takedowns of Corporate America. In order to properly digest that stunning notion, let’s flashback 25 years, to the winter of 1994. Across any playground in America, social status wasn’t determined by useless likes on Facebook or Instagram. A key factor in any young adolescent’s life was his choice of winter apparel, mainly proprietorship of a Starter jacket.
Unfortunately, I never got the memo. In fact, I recall walking to school on a frigid December morning 12 miles north of Boston, with a pace and strut mimicking a young Heathcliff the Cat. As I approached Joshua Eaton Elementary school, my vision of a productive morning of FourSquare and Off-the-Wall were instantly vanquished. A young boy, let’s call him Dan, alerted me that my Patriots jacket sucked. He minced a few more choice words in my direction, but all I remember was him gliding away with his Mighty Ducks starter jacket. I could have countered with the fact that the same Patriots decorating my coat were in the middle of a surprising 7 game win streak, that would eventually vault their record from 3-6 to an impressive 10-6! But looking back, my best defense was the very man leading ole Danny Boy’s precious Mighty Ducks was a sucker. Gordon Bombay was a pasty, a complete pawn, and nobody saw it coming. Except one man….
Let’s catch everyone up on everything you need to know about D2: The Mighty Ducks. After leading a group of misfit hockey players to a local championship, head coach Gordon Bombay is pursuing his dream of playing in the NHL. Bombay is injured in a game, and his dreams of professional hockey are shattered. Five things stand out in the first 15 minutes of this amazing sequel:
1. Bombay is said to be 29 years old! In the first film, he’s already an accomplished lawyer! If Gordon breezed thru the 7 years of undergrad, law school and passed his state bar, what year did he graduate high school? How many grades did he skip? Did he get help from Paulie’s Robot? A once in a generation hockey player, and evidently a once in a generation mind. Cheers Gordon.
2. Bombay is not exactly dominating a high level minor league hockey game in D2. In fact, the rink is sponsored by Bubbalicious, which is certainly worth noting because it was an amazing chewing gum that’s wildly dated:
3. In an homage to anyone who has ever had a rough patch in his or her life, Bombay redefines rock bottom in the ensuing days after his injury. After being medically cleared to travel, he returns to his home town in Minnesota during a brutal rainstorm. He’s fresh off a massive knee injury that derailed his hopes and dreams, but does Gordon have a brace on his knee? A wheelchair? Cast? Bombay took a page from a different era, and was using a cane that would have made Willy Wonka proud:
4. Things get worse for the Minnesota Miracle man. Does a family member or loved one come pick him up? Nope! Instead, Gordon is swept away by an old man in a striking Volvo, who may or may not have confirmed plans to pick up Bombay. This old man is named Jan Rubes, and he’s the real lynchpin to D2: The Mighty Ducks.
Initially when I was watching D2, I figured it was the old man named Hans from the first film. However, Jan immediately informs Gordon that Hans is visiting his mother in Germany. Hans is potentially dissolving in a toxic barrel somewhere. Jan is immediately pulling the strings in a beautiful modern symphony.
5. Jan ensures Bombay cannot have even a modicum of inner self worth, and lets him sleep on a cot in the hockey store he owns. It’s the same store that Gordon worked at when he was young. Everyone goes thru peaks and valleys, but Gordon could not have gotten a good night’s slumber. His knee is shot, all he has is a 3000-year-old cane to help get him around, and the closest thing he has to a friend is Jan.
The story moves along and it’s clear that Jan wields tremendous raw power. He simply makes a call to some corporate drone named Tibbles from Hendrick’s Hockey. Gordon has nearly given up, as Jan has debased him to a shell of a man. It’s now time for Jan’s master plan to spring into action. Tibbles makes Bombay an offer he simply can’t refuse, because Bombay literally has nothing but his trusty cot and archaic cane.
It’s unclear why Tibbles believes Gordon will make him a rich man. Evidently Tibbles was caught up in the local fever that was the Ducks Pee Wee Championship. It makes little sense to give Bombay, a disgraced lawyer who only coached hockey to serve as a punishment for a reckless DUI, a massive payday. But Tibbles was under the spell of Jan. Jan has handpicked Gordon to fail at the Goodwill Games because he loathes Hendricks Hockey. As owner of a small town hockey store, Jan was simply tired of the uphill battle of dealing with a massive corporate hockey chain. Jan manipulated the simple mind of Tibbles and convinced him Gordon was the man to lead Team USA.
As Jan assumes, Bombay goes to Los Angeles for the Goodwill Games and puts on an absolute clinic of incompetence. He does zero coaching, neglects to scout opposing teams, gets swept up in a weird Hollywood hockey scene, no shows an elimination game vs. Germany and doesn’t bother to teach a member of Team USA to stop while skating. It’s unclear why Tibbles picked a player for an Olympic squad that can’t stop. But his repeated incompetence, compiled with unmatched Bombay’s ego, made them perfect puppets for Jan.
Finally, there’s also the matter of Gordon dating the trainer of Team Iceland, the rival of Team USA. I believe this woman to be Jan’s daughter, who helped tear Bombay down and get his team to instantly turn against him.
The story ends with Gordon leading Team USA over Team Iceland (led by Wolf “The Dentist” Stannson!). A key moment was when Team USA elected to change uniforms during the game. Take a watch below, and right at the 2:40 mark:
As you saw, Jan pulls off a borderline corporate heist. He’s inexplicably in the locker room with 15 custom made Team USA Mighty Duck jerseys. Jan made sure that these jerseys were absent of any Hendricks Hockey logo. The Ducks went on to be an international sensation, and history has forgotten Tibbles and Hendricks Hockey. Take a bow Jan.
All the signs were there in D2 pointing to Jan, and I still don’t know whether he is this stories’ hero or villain. Sometimes the day-to-day gets so fast paced that you miss things. Sometimes it gets so fast that we lose sight on what actually matters. I certainly wasn’t getting many “likes” on my off-brand Starter Jacket, and in retrospect that was just fine then, and it certainly is just fine now. Times change, values change and people change. Just be careful, because you never know when the next Jan is lurking.
Neil Foley is the Senior Manager of Audio at FOX Sports. Follow him on Twitter @SirLomax