I like to think of my hockey classmates as a band of brothers and sisters. We skate together, we bite ice together, we battle stinky hockey gear together.
It’s a bond.
Sadly, this week there was a dangerous edge to the locker room.
Even more sadly, there is no dispute that I was the cause of it.
Anybody who believes Facebook is not dangerous, heed this story. Like CW Stoneking’s “Love Me Or Die”, Facebook should be used carefully, else a powerful voodoo may bring undone the person or the thing you love.
Trust me. I know.
So what did I do?
Well, I admitted to our catchily-titled “2011 Icehouse Intermediate Hockey Group” that I considered “Mighty Ducks” to be a crap film.
I ventured my opinion on the merits, or lack thereof, of this 1992 classic, alternatively-named “Champions” (talk about give away the ending, btw).
I know, I know. I’m sorry, alright?
There’s no need to go into specific details of the 30 comments that followed (starting with: “oooh fighting words Place!” … “This should get interesting.” … and then straight into “Blasphemy!” and beyond.)
It would be fair to say our Facebook group went nuts. It’s a closed group, thankfully, so the public wasn’t exposed to the vitriol. We’re hockey players, so the language can get fruity. The only win was that nobody dobbed me in to Lliam Webster, our coach and the hard man of Melbourne Ice. I know for a fact he loves the film, and he attacked me with a stick tonight, anyway, but playfully, so I dodged a bullet there.
Suffice to say, I am now aware that many of my classmates feel strongly about the film, which stars Emilio Estevez and a very young Joshua Jackson for any Dawson Creek fans out there (and if you are out there, why the Hell are you reading a hockey blog?)
Mighty Ducks is set in Minnesota in the days of puffy hair and is a film about a team of misfit kids; hard kids off the street, who all manage to be cutesy with hearts of gold. All of them. One kid learns to skate by roller-blading through a shopping centre in one easy sequence. Can’t skate: now can skate. A lot of eggs are sacrificed. (We have actually had Lliam use that scene to teach us stick-handling: “Treat the puck softly like an egg … glide it, don’t whack it.”)
The complicated plot, summarised by imdb, goes a little something like this: “Gordon Bombay, a hotshot lawyer, is haunted by memories of his childhood, when, as the star player in his champion hockey team, he lost the winning goal in a shootout, thereby losing the game, and the approval of his coach. After being charged for drunk driving, the court orders him to coach a peewee hockey team, the worst in the league, Gordon is at first very reluctant. However, he eventually gains the respect of the kids and teaches them how to win, gaining a sponsor on the way and giving the team the name of The Ducks. In the finals, they face Gordon’s old team, coached by Gordon’s old coach, giving Gordon a chance to face old ghosts.”
There’s no way you could possibly guess what happens.
So anyway, it turns out 75 per cent of our Facebook group only got into hockey because of this film. Goldberg, the fat kid goalie, is regarded as an icon. Nobody has any issues with Gordon heading off to try out as a player at the end of the film.
I’m not criticising. It’s the greatest film ever made. And there were sequels, which I am yet to enjoy. Oh boy.
By the time I headed to the Icehouse tonight – accompanied by an enthusiastic spectator in Will (sidelined by toe surgery), eagerly along for the juicy prospect of extreme violence and the likely death of his father – online threats of “boarding” me and worse had been made, including a pledge for the whole class to stand over my fallen body, doing the Ducks’ famous “Quack” chant.
Happily, my teammates decided to let me live and I actually had an awesome class, learning forward-to-backward transitions, doing lots of passing, backward skating, shooting for goal and one-on-one forward versus D.
It was one of those rare classes where my feet felt right in the skates, I had my balance and the world actually worked for me, in that the move we had to learn was snow-plough-based, as against the hockey-stop lean-back. As the only person on the ice who is still crap at hockey stops, the urgent snow plough remains my only stopping option, all weight on the front leg, which is what tonight’s main move required.
Who knows? Maybe falling over every-other-pivot will turn out to be a strength too in the weeks ahead?
Either way, I’m not scared any more. All I have to do is invoke the spirit, pluck and sheer goddamn decency of Charlie Conway, captain of the Ducks.
Quack! Quack! Quack!
(Secret blog easter egg, thanks to classmate Shaun Madden: Where are the Ducks now? Gold.)