'Mighty Ducks' oral history: What we learned

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Image Credit: Everett Collection

Believe it or not, it has been 20 years since The Mighty Ducks graced your movie screens (for the second time). And in honor of the movie that inspired us all to attempt ice skating and say “Quack” repeatedly, Time caught up with those involved for a full oral history of the franchise.

Here’s what we learned:

The first draft was much darker. “The draft I wrote in that apartment was much darker,” writer Steve Brill said. “It wasn’t a Disney movie. There weren’t murders or anything, but there was some adult romance. And a lot of hockey — that was always the key thing. As far as dark humor, there was always that DUI at the beginning, and I don’t think that would hold up right now in a Disney movie. Then in the movie there are sort of having-sex-with-your-mother jokes in there and flatulence jokes, and guys are getting hit in the nuts. I think the producer, Jordan Kerner, had a mandate to — when the studio says, ‘It’s got to be funnier’ — make it a little broader in some parts. So you have a mix of very serious character-driven story and then broad humor.”

Minnesota passed the Mighty Ducks Bill. “In spite of the cold, we all loved Minnesota and they loved having us,” Kerner said. “Because of the effect the film had on them — they had so much pride about it and they’re all sort of hockey nuts — they passed something called the Mighty Ducks Bill. We shot in maybe 20 arenas while we were there and they probably had 80 or 100 arenas in total. And they built like another 15 arenas so that they could accommodate all-girls teams, and it was an effort to mainstream girls into boys’ teams. So the bill was something that created both new rinks and more coaches to help girls want to develop and become hockey players. So in Minnesota to this day girls all play hockey. They have the ability, any time they want to be on a team, they’re on a team. And that was because of The Mighty Ducks. It was really great being in a smaller city that was crazy about what you were doing. I ended up building a home in Minnesota, and my wife and I were married there.”

A next installment isn’t out of the question. “I wanted to license this dark adult play, That Championship Season. It was going to be the death of Gordon Bombay as an older man, and Marty was going to play him,” Kerner said. “And Goldberg would be played by like Jim Belushi. You know, we were literally going to pair up everybody with a present-day actor, but it was going to be not unlike Chariots of Fire, the sort of look back at a moment in time when their coach came back to them and did something that changed their lives forever. So you cut from the present of the kids and they would have been all of 18 or 19, so they would have become the high school seniors. And we probably would have played the third movie that I wanted to make, which would have been that return to the Goodwill Games and losing to Iceland. But it would be set against this thing going on in a bar or restaurant where all the present-day guys grown up talking about what this coach meant to them. And we’d see that played out against them as 18-year-olds on the ice and Emilio playing in that and his father playing in a series of scenes where he was dying and they had to say their goodbyes. So I was looking for a really literate and emotional way for all of them to come back together again as men and to say goodbye to the man who meant so much to them. But it wasn’t meant to be.”

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