Disney’s presentation at Investor Day in December, among many other content announcements, it was revealed that a series based on the Mighty Ducks franchise will launch on Disney+ (The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers).
This beloved ’90s trilogy, often placed on Mount Rushmore by hockey fans, is about a Minnesota team, outsiders, that has overcome all odds to win the championship under coach Gordon Bombay (played by Emilio Estevez). The most emblematic part of the trilogy is undoubtedly Flying V, a hockey game that appears throughout the series (in both chess and success), where the entire team starts behind the goal line, forms a V formation, and takes over the offensive zone.
The problem is that people are talking about Flying V with rose-colored glasses now – Flying V as a hockey strategy is absolutely terrible.
I mean, seriously… It’s totally unrealistic. Stupid, even by 1992 standards. It could be a joke because we’re still talking about it, but that’s not the point of this article.
A reboot of Mighty Ducks means we’ll probably see one or two flying Vs (or 10) back on screen. So instead of complaining about it, I decided to fix it. Frankly, today’s Social Media audience is far less inclined to forgive hockey in a movie that seems as unrealistic as it did in 1992.
To understand how to repair the Flying V, we must first understand why the Flying V is broken.
Why the Flying V doesn’t work
I contacted Jack Hahn, who is an expert in hockey tactics and player development. He has worked as a player development analyst and assistant hockey operations with the Toronto Maple Leafs and as an assistant coach with the Toronto Marlies in the AHL. He has also written a book titled Hockey Tactics 2020. Simply put: He knows what he’s talking about.
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The worst-kept secret in hockey is that the Flying V of the Mighty Ducks trilogy is a disaster. Especially with a neutral force, they won’t be able to get past their own defensive zone.
If you play flying Vs from D1-D3, it only works because everyone on the other side is going to the bottom instead of playing the usual forecheck in the neutral zone, Han explained. Real hockey teams rarely do this unless they are in the penalty box.
Even if the Ducks reach the offensive blue line [which they always do in the movies], a skilled defensive team can stop a player who has yet to carry the puck over the offensive blue line and launch a fairly uncontested counterattack.
It’s the D3 that needs to happen: No gaps between players in goal, Khan said, referring to the Icelandic team in the third Flying V movie.
How does Flying V work?
Perhaps the easiest way to improve Flying V (working title: Flying V2.0), at least on screen, is to turn it around.
In the trilogy, the Ducks take the ice in a reverse V-position (from their goalie’s point of view), so there is only one possible target for the puck. If the formation was reversed and the team entered the ice in a V-shape (from the goalie’s point of view), there would be two rosettes above the forward’s blue line, which would make the game at least a little more believable.
The other big problem is that the actors are divided into groups as close to each other as possible. Han explains that lateral spacing and vertical options – which allow for draft or drip fits – are necessary for tank performance.
The V Ducks have neither, but the NHL examples do, Khan said.
Can a Flying V league work in the NHL (or other top leagues)?
Believe it or not, the Flying V was – at least in part – intentionally condemned by the NHL.
In the 2016-17 season, the Montreal Canadiens found themselves with a man advantage against the Calgary Flames, and three times in a row, they set up their offense with everyone behind the goal line, just like the Ducks :
The helicopter flew the Flying V last night not once, but *three* times in a row. Failed the first time, succeeded the third! pic.twitter.com/j1Zvu0Y2eY
– Olivier Bouchard (@oli_bou) January 25, 2017.
Asked after the game, striker Artturi Lehkonen said Kirki [assistant coach Kirk Mueller] planned it, added defender Nathan Beaulieu: We want the boys to think about the future. The defenders are doing so well on free kicks right now, they’re closing off space and holding the lines, so trying to get the guys back and get them in with speed is a way to throw a curve ball. We want to surprise the teams, we don’t want them to know what we are doing.
So it’s a matter of realistically displaying Flying V on the screen during a reboot? Put it on and turn it over. It’s best to present it during the powerplay as a playful nod to the original trilogy (though spectators can also be nostalgic if they at least do the powerplay).
One more important question: Is he going to run in the NHL? Unless the team decides to do it for the memes while they’re in power…. …and it’s 6-0.
But I’m hoping that in the new Mighty Ducks reboot, every Flying V attempt we see will include something of what we learned here rather than what we saw in the originals.
Improvement is a good thing. Change is a good thing.
frequently asked questions
Will there be a new Mighty Ducks movie?
In August 2020, it was announced that filming could officially begin after Disney Television Studios reached an agreement with British Columbia unions to test actors and crew members against the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The Mighty Ducks: The Changers game comes out on the 26th. March 2021 scheduled on Disney+.
Who died in the Mighty Ducks?
Todd Ewan, an offensive player who was part of the Mighty Ducks franchise for his first three seasons, died Saturday at the age of 49.
How much money did the Mighty Ducks win?
The Mighty Ducks were a surprise hit, but they didn’t exactly bring in $50 million at the box office