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Every kid that grew up in the 90’s remember the Mighty Ducks franchise. Emilio Estevez plays coach Gordon Bombay who leads a rag tag group to Minnesota and then international hockey glory. In fact I saw the first and third iteration of the films in theaters for my sixth and tenth birthday parties respectively.
Yet it was D2: The Mighty Ducks that made its way in to my VHS rotation. D2 features a select group from the first movie teaming up with a new group to represent the USA at the Junior Goodwill Games. A place where watching teens play hockey is a huge ticket. The team needs to find its way in order to defeat the dreaded team from Iceland.
In the first Mighty Ducks movie Gordon is mentored by Hans in the second movie Gordon is mentored by Jan, Hans’s brother, who makes one mention of Hans being back in the old country then never is heard from again in this film. In the third movie Hans returns to mentor the team, but makes no mention on Jan’s whereabouts. Growing up I watched D2 so much that I had pretty much forgotten about Hans’s existence until catching the original Mighty Ducks on TV a few years ago. So the debate raged on between myself and my brother Michael, who was the better moral conscience of the team Hans or Jan!?
“It’s not about winning, Gordon. It never was. It’s about showing them how to play, show them to have fun. Teach them to fly.”
Rewatching the films Hans takes the early lead in the debate by being Gordons mentor who helps him leave his excessive lawyer lifestyle. He’s the driving force in helping Gordon come to terms with his past and rekindling his love for hockey. Gordon is able to teach the Ducks to play the game right and defeat his former team the dreaded Hawks led by their competitive coach who took Pee-Wee hockey way to seriously. Hans helps Gordon invent the Flying V and even encourages him to leave a career as a lawyer to play minor league hockey even through he is 5″6′ and weighs 165 pounds. After his absence in the second film he then makes no mention of his brother Jan in the third installment. Hans helps mentor Joshua Jacksons character Charlie Conway and tragically passes away. Gordon and Charlie attend the service and his brother Jan doesn’t even attend!
“I told them you were the Minnesota Miracle Man, and only you could teach them to fly. So be that man. Be that man, Gordon.”
When Gordon gets injured in minor league hockey, Jan is the one who picks him up from the bus station. Hans on the other hand is nowhere to be found! Instead he goes back to visit their mother in the old country. Jan even calls him out as a “strudel-head”. Jan then swoops in the next morning to make Gordon his patented hasenpfeffer! He then finds Gordon a cushy and apparently lucrative gig coaching team USA hockey in the Junior Goodwill Games. Gordon sets off with the team to Los Angeles and when Gordon and the team struggle with his new found success and celebrity (because we all know how well paid and respected junior hockey coaches are). Gordon even reaches a low point with his Pat Riley style hair after a celebrity studded party where he has to talk to Steve Brill. Who comes to make the save? You guessed it Jan! Jan helps Gordon get his groove back and when team USA is struggling in the finals against Iceland, Jan even swags out the team with awesome new Mighty Ducks Uniforms!!! They make the mid period change and bring home the Gold! After this Jan fades in to obscurity with no mention of him in the third installment.
The Verdict: Jan
Though both brothers were a real moral conscience of the team. I have to give the debate to Jan. He helps Gordon rebound from his ridiculous attempt at pursuing the NHL and even helps him ward of the celebrity that comes from coaching hockey at the Junior Goodwill Games. Did I also mention he makes hasenpfeffer!?!?