In the 1992 classic The Mighty Ducks, a high-profile attorney, Gordon Bombay, is sentenced to coach a Peewee hockey team as punishment for drunken driving. It is not meant to be a commentary on the often-capricious and slanted criminal justice system, though one wonders about the wisdom of putting someone who hates kids with kids. And, true to form, Bombay bristles at the idea of shaping a bunch of losers. His first act as coach, in fact, is to allow the entire team in a limo and drive around on the ice. His hubris and life experience tell him that it's safe, and he uses the understandable outcry from a concerned parent -- Charlie's single mom -- as the first step of a romantic entanglement.
But this blog isn't necessarily about ethics in District 5 gaming. It's about one of the turning points of the picture, which comes after Bombay has softened a bit. Visiting his old friend Hans, they have a conversation about the past, including his tutelage at the hands of win-at-all-cost maniac Coach Reilly on the juggernaut Hawks.
"Gordon: So they're a tough team. Nothing's changed since I played. Hans: Actually, one little thing has changed. You wouldn't even be a Hawk now. They redrew the district lines last year. The lake is not the boundary any more. Gordon: You see? You'd be a Duck."
So here's where it gets interesting. Bombay hears this information, then rushes out to get a ruling from the league forcing current Hawks star Adam Banks to play for the Ducks. It is arguably an insanely selfish thing to do. Banks loves the Hawks and is a child. It's only hockey. Bombay, you see, still hasn't unburdened himself from the addiction of winning, consequences be damned.
And dear reader, here is my theory. Bombay only knew about the eligibility issue because the Banks family was living in his childhood home. In this essay I will explain .....
There are two possibilities. The first is that Bombay heard about the new district lines and then cross-referenced the league roster to see if he could gain a competitive advantage. And just by coincidence the league's player from his fiercest rival happened to show up. The second is that he knew exactly where Banks lived.
It's worth asking how. Did he see the Banks family around? Or did he have pre-existing knowledge of Banks' residence? My gut says it's the latter.
The symbolism is actually quite clear. Anyone with half a brain understands that Charlie Conway represents a young Bombay. They lay it on pretty thick with the protagonist angle culminating in a game-winning shot bouncing a quarter-inch the other way for glory. Word of warning: it's best not to really analyze the Oedipal stuff with the mom -- unless you really want to.
Banks' role in the picture is a bit more subtle. He can be seen as an allegory for adult Bombay. The best at what he does until a physical setback. Banks hurts his wrist -- a nod to the career-ending malady that led to Bombay's retreat into the law. Banks and Bombay initially want nothing to do with District 5, believing they are above it. They forge through, though, discovering their love of hockey is stronger than the name on the front of a jersey.
They both grew up worshiping Reilly, a god-like figure. They are both disowned and discarded by the veteran coach when they stand in his way of winning. They both found more fulfillment in a team structure as opposed to individual glory. Enlightened scholars will surely be able to glean more supporting evidence.
Bombay needs to find peace in his past and present. Conway and Banks represent those two periods in his life. The filmmakers lay one of these on quite heavily. But don't sleep on the Banks stuff. Not only does the young player live in the same space as a young Bombay, it's absolutely essential to the payoff that he does.
A similar theory was floated on Reddit several years ago, though the Internet was quite skeptical. This is just another example of how sometimes the digital monolith can get things wrong, especially regarding revolutionary ideas that threaten to shake the foundation of accepted reality.