The Mighty Ducks ~ Novelisations
A friend of mine, Dana, graciously gave her time to transcribe the novelisations for the rest of the fans. I must make it clear that she did this simply to share more “cannon fodder” with the fandom – she was not making any form of money out of this, though I don’t doubt her karma was good afterwards, because I for one was very grateful that she gave her time to do this.
So now, I’m risking lawsuits to put the novels on here. Why? Simply because you can’t get hold of them. I would happily pay for the novels, if I could find them. Ebay isn’t an option for me, I’m English and they only ever seem to sell (very rarely) from Americans, who won’t ship outside the USA. And thanks to my ex, I’m banned from Amazon.com. I simply want to share this with fans of the movie.
At the slightest hint of a lawsuit, I will hurriedly take them down.
Interesting side note, this novelisation is approximately half the length of Shoebox.
Also, I have attached a zip with the html file and a .mobi conversion for use on a Kindle. Hope you enjoy! –
The Mighty Ducks: Junior Novelization by Jordan Horowitz
Prologue: Penalty shot ‘73
All eyes were on Gordon Bombay age ten.
It was the final game of the Minnesota State Peewee Ice Hockey Championships, and the score was tied at 2-2. The Cardinals fans were hungry for a win. But the Hawks fans were confident – the Hawks had never lost a game.
A penalty shot, against the Cardinals, had been called just as the buzzer sounded.
Coach Reilly knew exactly whom to choose to take the shot. His best forward. His secret weapon. Number 11, Gordon Bombay.
“All right, Gordon.” Reilly said. Everyone but the Cardinals goalie had left the ice. A hush fell over the crowd. It’s up to you. I don’t want to see any goats out there after the game, you got it? You miss this shot, you’re letting the whole team down, too.”
Gordon looked up at the hulking figure of Coach Reilly and nodded. He skated confidently out to center ice.
The referee skated off toward the boards, throwing a ‘get ready’ signal to the Cardinals goalie. The goalie hunched over slightly. He cleared away some ice dust from the goal crease.
Gordon stared down the ice at the goalie. He glanced sideways to the Hawks bench. His teammates were all looking at him. Coach Reilly was pacing back and forth on the bench, punching his clenched fist in the fist in the air. Soon Gordon began to hear the familiar Hawks chant:
Win, win, win, win, win, win, win, win.
Gordon looked down at the puck and remembered what Coach Reilly had said. From now on his hockey stick would be his eyes. He would keep his sights on the goal. All that mattered was the win – the Big W.
Gordon gently tapped the puck with the blade of his stick as he pushed forward on his skates. Sliding the puck from side to side, he skated toward the goal.
One, two, three –
Gordon let go a blistering wrist shot. The goalie made a desperate dive to his right. Suddenly it seemed to Gordon as if everything were in slow motion. The puck fluttered toward the net. It didn’t look like the goalie would reach it in time. Gordon could taste the big W!
CLANG! The puck slammed into the goalpost…and ricocheted back onto the ice.
Gordon dropped to his knees. He heard the Hawks fans moan. Reilly shook his head in disgust. Overtime would have to decide the championship.
Gordon had had his one shot to win – one shot at the big W.
And he had failed.
Gordon Bombay was a loser.
Chapter 1: 30 and 0!
All eyes were on Gordon Bombay, age thirty.
The small courtroom in the Minneapolis Municipal Courthouse was sprinkled with people. Gordon stood before the witness stand, cross-examining an elderly woman. She had been called by the district attorney to testify against Gordon’s client, Max Tolbert, a man accused of selling fake savings bonds to senior citizens.
It didn’t matter, of course, whether his client was guilty or innocent. All that mattered was winning.
Gordon Bombay, hotshot attorney, was going for the big W.
“All my client did was try to give you what you wanted,” Gordon explained to the witness. “This man,” he said, pointing to Tolbert, “put his neck on the line for your greed. This man sits before you because he took a risk for them!” now he was pointing an accusing finger at the group of senior citizens who sat huddled behind the district attorney. Frank Huddy was outraged.
“Objection, Your Honor!” Cried Huddy.
Judge Weathers agreed. Will both counsellors approach the bench?’
Huddy marched up to the bench, but Gordon ignored the judge’s instruction and eased over to the defence table and leaned over to whisper something into Tolbert’s ear.
“I don’t have anything to tell you,” he explained to him, “but I want to make them wait. Just nod like I’m saying something important.”
Obediently, Tolbert nodded.
“Mr. Bombay,” Judge Weathers called out impatiently.
Tolbert was becoming impatient with Gordon. “Gordon,” he complained. “What are you doing? Get out there and be my lawyer!”
Gordon grinned. “Perfect,” he told Tolbert. “This drives them nuts. I love it.” Finally, he jumped up from the defence table.
He gave Judge Weathers an innocent smile then turned to the district attorney.
“I love that tie, by the way Frank. You wore that yesterday, too, didn’t you?”
Judge Weathers cleared his throat. “Oh, Mr. Bombay,” he said sarcastically. “I’m so glad you could make it. Please restrict yourself to relevant cross-examination.”
Gordon explained to Judge Weathers that in a similar case a higher court had overruled a judge who had not allowed the same kind of testimony that Gordon was using to clear his client of the charges.
“If I’m not mistaken,” Gordon concluded, “that judge was you, wasn’t it, Judge Weathers?”
Judge Weathers sighed, red-faced. “I stand corrected, counsellor,” he said. “Objection overruled.”
Less then an hour later the jury filed back into the courtroom and announced it’s verdict:
Gordon jumped to his feet and pumped his arm into the air in a victory whoop.
It was thirty wins and zero losses. Gordon remained undefeated. The big W was his.
Chapter 2: “Quack Quack, Mr. Ducksworth.”
Frank Huddy caught up with Gordon outside the courthouse.
“You stooped to an all-time low on that one, Bombay” Huddy said.
A smirk came to Gordon’s face. “I’m insulted by that Frank,” he said. “You have no idea how low I can stoop.”
“I mean, I don’t mind losing,” said Huddy. “I just wanted to lose fair.”
“Losing fair is still losing Frank,” Gordon explained. “You gotta go for the w every time.”
“What about justice? That man should be in jail!”
Gordon stopped and turned to Huddy. “It was your job to put him there!” He said, poking a finger into Huddy’s chest. “Don’t take it out on me. Next time, do your job, Frank.”
As a final insult, Gordon reached out to straighten the knot in Huddy’s tie.
It made him feel good to see an opponent humiliated. That’s what winning was all about. Going in for the kill. Gordon smiled, turned, and walked away.
Gordon arrived at the law offices of Ducksworth, Saver, and Gross to a less then enthusiastic reception. He had hoped that the entire office would give him a standing ovation. After all, he was 30 and 0! Instead no one said a word. Gordon shrugged and walked to his office. Jeannie Davis was coming down the corridor. At last he thought to himself, here was someone who might cheer his victory. After all, as his secretary, wasn’t that her job?
Gordon held out his hand for a high five. Jeannie returned it politely but unenthusiastically. She took his overcoat and briefcase and handed him a stack of phone messages.
“Thirty and oh!” Gordon explained. “I remain undefeated.”
Jeannie smiled blandly. Gordon sighed. “Any calls from the duck phone?” he asked hopefully. At the very least he expected a congratulatory call from his boss, Gerald Ducksworth.
“What’s he waiting for?” Gordon asked impatiently. “I saw him in the back of the courtroom. How about some kudos, huh?”
“By the way,” Jeannie said. “Max Tolbert dropped off a couple of rink-side seats to tonight’s North Stars game.”
Gordon stuck his tongue between his lips and razzed the idea. “Hockey?” He said. “Forget it.” He hadn’t been near a rink in twenty years.
A young assistant attorney came lumbering down the hall cradling a heavy stack of manila folders. “Here’s that research for the Pearlstein case, Gordon.” Jane said, depositing the briefs on his desk. “Can we get started?”
“Jane can’t you see I’m revelling here?” Gordon whined. “Today I’m thirty and oh.”
Jane looked at him. “Congratulations,” she said tonelessly.
The phone rang. “Mr. Bombay’s office.” Answered Jeannie. She looked at Gordon. “It’s Ducksworth.” She told him. “You’re right.” He wants to see you.”
Gordon punched the air with his fist.
“Thank you Mr. Ducksworth.” He muttered as he made his way to his boss’s office. “It was nothing Mr. Ducksworth. Quack, quack, Mr. Ducksworth…”
Gerald Ducksworth smiled when Gordon entered, and he motioned for him to sit down. Ducksworth had liked Gordon from the start. He liked the young man’s drive and determination. Like himself, Gordon was a man who set high goals for himself and, more often than not, attained them. But after watching Gordon over the course of the last year, Ducksworth noticed a tendency in the young man to create his own rules in the courtroom. It was as if Gordon were competing in some kind of athletic competition. That was something he did not admire.
“Gordon.” Mr. Ducksworth said pleasantly. “Another fine job today.”
“Thank you sir.” Said Gordon modestly.
“Just one thing.” Added Mr. Ducksworth. “Score don’t gloat.”
Gordon was confused. What kind of pep talk was this? Where was the expensive champagne? The promotion? “I don’t know what you mean, sir.”
“This isn’t a game.” Explained Ducksworth. “A little restraint might be in order next time.” Before Gordon could reply, Ducksworth resumed his examination of some papers on his desk. “That’s all.” He said abruptly without looking up. “You can go.”
A bit bewildered, Gordon stood up and walked back to his office. This isn’t a game, he repeated to himself. He sighed in every court case, someone won and someone lost. If that isn’t a game, Gordon thought, what is it?
Chapter 3: Judgement
Gordon slapped at the stick shift of his brand-new black corvette, revved the engine, and peeled down a street in downtown Minneapolis.
“Thank you, Mr. Ducksworth!” Slurred Gordon as he cranked up the volume on the car stereo. He took another swig from the bottle he kept balanced between his legs.
His meeting that afternoon with Ducksworth was replaying itself in his head. He simply could not understand why Ducksworth hadn’t been more appreciative. It wasn’t how you played the game, it was winning it that counted.
“It was nothing, Mr. Ducksworth!” He shouted angrily. “Quack, quack, Mr. Ducksworth!” Gordon looked into his rear-view mirror and noticed that he was being followed by a police car. The flashing red light suddenly went on and he clumsily pulled the car over to the side of the road. Gordon tried to slide the bottle under his seat.
He tried to calm himself. Don’t panic, Bombay, he told himself. No problem.
The policeman tapped on his window.
“This,” Gordon said, “is not good.”
“The charges against Mr. Bombay,” began Frank Huddy, “are driving under the influence, driving with an open container, and reckless endangerment.”
Judge Weathers couldn’t’ believe his good fortune. “And to think,” He said with a grin, “I almost stayed home this morning. I assume you’re representing yourself?”
Okay, Gordon thought. It was his penalty and their power play. That just meant he had to outmanoeuvre them.
“Let’s talk business,” Gordon said. “What am I facing? Fines? License suspension?”
“Yes,” said Judge Weathers. “Unless the D.A.’s office moves to allow you to plead guilty to lesser charges. But that is solely up to the prosecutor.”
Gordon looked at Huddy. He felt as if he had just been thrown to the lions.
“The city of Minneapolis,” said Huddy, “Would not like to pursue a plea bargain in this case.” He leaned over and whispered into Gordon’s ear. “Gotta go for the big W, Gordon.”
Gordon sighed. His winning streak had just ended. Thirty and one.
Gordon was released on his own recognizance. That evening Gordon pored over his legal books in his office. There had to be a loophole he could use to get himself off the hook. It was late in the game, Gordon admitted. And he was down a goal. But the game wasn’t over.
Suddenly Gordon looked up into the face of Ducksworth.
“Mr. Ducksworth.” Said Gordon, surprised. “What are you doing here?”
“I own the place,” replied Ducksworth. “What about you?”
“I’m reading up on a few cases.” He lied. He didn’t want to let Ducksworth know anything about his arrest.
“Oh?” Said Ducksworth. “I thought you’d be researching your defence against DUI and reckless endangerment.”
Gordon slumped in his chair.
“What a mess.” Said Ducksworth. “Did you think I wouldn’t find out, Gordon?”
“There was no need to concern you with it, sir. They have no case. Frank Huddy just wants my scalp. Now I’ve found a loophole. I’m going to plead not guilty–”
“Gordon, stop it!” Said Ducksworth abruptly. “There will be no loopholes. There will be no trail. I will not have you dragging this firm’s good name through the mud. Now I’ve talked with Judge Weathers. He’s agreed to suspend disposition of your case.”
“Under what conditions?” Asked Gordon suspiciously.”
“Probation. Suspension of driver’s license. Five hundred hours of community service. And a leave of absence from the firm.
“Leave of absence? He can’t do that. He can’t stop me from working.”
“He’s not,” said Ducksworth. “I am. That was one of my conditions. Gordon you need a break. You’re too wrapped up in your work.”
“But, sir. My work is my life.”
“That’s my point.” Insisted Ducksworth. “The community service will do you good. It will teach you about compassion and fair play. It will teach you how to fit in.”
“Community service,” Gordon sighed. “This is horrible.”
“You’ll get used to it,” assured Ducksworth. “Hopefully you’ll come back a better person and a better attorney. That’s why I’m keeping you on salary and arranging a driver for you.”
Gordon knew he had no choice. The buzzer had sounded, and it was time to get off the ice.
Chapter 4: There’s No Business Like Doggie Business
“I found one!” Eleven-year-old Dave Karp shouted, climbing out of a dumpster behind an alley.
Two other boys waited for him near the sidewalk giggling with excitement. Petie, Karp’s dog, sniffed at some spilled garbage.
One boy, Peter, was short and feisty. The other boy, Averman, was tall and gangly and wore a pair of large-framed glasses that he constantly had to push back onto his nose.
“What do you think?” Asked Karp, holding out the purse for inspection.
“Lovely, Karp,” remarked Averman. “It goes with your eyes.”
“You gonna take that from him Karp?” Asked Peter.
“NO,” answered Karp. “Remind me to bust your head, Averman.”
“Thanks Peter,” said Averman. “Thanks very much.”
“Just then Charlie Conway came screeching into the alley on his skateboard.
“Did you get it?” Karp asked Charlie anxiously.
“Yeah.” Charlie pulled out a can of chilli from a grocery bag and handed it to him. Karp pried open the can.
Karp called to his dog. “Here, Petie. Here boy.” He emptied some chilli onto the ground. Petie trotted over, sniffed, and hungrily gobbled up the chilli. Karp scooped out some more.
The four boys grinned at one another. They watched Petie expectantly.
“He sniffs,” said Averman, launching into a running commentary. “He stops. A hush has fallen over the crowd. He sniffs some more. Could this be it? He turns in a circle. Yes! He squats! He SCORES!”
Averman groaned as he bent down to scoop the remains into the purse. Then they carried the purse out onto the street. Charlie slipped a crumpled dollar bill inside the purse so that it looked as if it might be full of money.
The four boys ran for shelter behind a parked pickup truck.
“Here we go…” giggled Averman.
They didn’t have to wait long. Within minutes a souped up red Camaro with flame detail along its side came to a roaring halt near the spot where the purse lay.
The driver, an overweight man in a sweatshirt and jeans, jumped out of the car. After looking around to make sure no one was watching, he picked up the purse and walked quickly back to his car.
“Yeah,” prodded Averman, “there’s more inside. Go ahead. Put your hand in.”
Instead, he got into his car and roared off.
“Hey he’s taking the whole purse,” Peter groaned. “This guy deserves what he gets.”
The boys laughed as they climbed out from behind the pickup truck. Suddenly they heard the squealing of rubber tires and turned. Down the street the Carmaro had come to a screeching stop. The driver screamed, and the boys broke into hysterical laughter as the purse came flying out of the car window.
The boys laughed and laughed until they could hardly breathe.
Something inside the car made Peter stop laughing. “Uh-oh,” said Peter. The man hadn’t driven off yet. “He saw us!”
The boys took off running down the street. The Camaro gunned into reverse, spun around, and roared toward them.
The boys dashed around the corner and zigzagged down the block. But they couldn’t shake the Camaro. Finally they ran down a narrow alley toward a fence at the far end. Averman and Peter quickly climbed over the fence and helped pull Karp up and over.
The Camaro slammed to a stop just outside the alley. “Hurry, Charlie!” Yelled Averman. The man lunged just as Charlie slipped over the top and dropped to the other side.
Breathing a collective sigh of relief, Karp, Averman, Peter and Charlie climbed onto the roof of an old warehouse and congratulated each other on their escape with a round of high fives.
Just another day for District Five.
Chapter 5: A Ride On Thin Ice
Gordon sat in the backseat of the rented Cadillac limousine and glowered.
“It’s got to be around here somewhere,” said his chauffeur Lewis.
“Just look for a sign that says Personal Hell,” wisecracked Gordon. He stared out the window and fumed. “How could Ducksworth do this to me?” Gordon muttered. “I hate kids. They’re barely human.”
Meanwhile, Lewis had finally found the ice pond in Peavy Park. Gordon looked through the window and shook his head slowly. It was the same pond where he used to practice hockey drills as a ten-year-old kid. His father used to pick him up each day after practice. It was the same pond where, one day, his father stopped coming to pick him up.
A ragtag group of kids dressed in rummage-sale winter clothes were skating around the ice chasing pucks with hockey sticks.
“Oh, no,” Gordon groaned. “It’s the hockey team.”
Gordon sighed as four of the kids chased after a loose puck. One swished his hockey stick at the puck, missed it, and crashed into another player. Both players toppled over onto their backs and slid across the ice. Meanwhile, a third player raced after the puck but slid off the ice into a snow bank at the edge of the pond.
Another player was blasting pucks into the net. Instead of blocking the shots, however, the goalie was busily dodging them.
“Come on, Goldberg,” complained Terry Hall, the kid who was shooting. “At least try to stop them. I’m getting tired of chasing pucks.”
“Well, be careful, Terry.” Answered Goldberg nervously. “It almost hit me that time!”
Charlie skated up to the goalie. Averman, Karp, and Peter were practicing on the far side of the pond.
“Goldberg, you’re the goalie,” Charlie said. “It’s supposed to hit you.”
“Does that sound stupid to anyone else?” Complained Goldberg.
From the backseat of his limousine, Gordon grinned. “Drive out onto the ice,” he ordered. Lewis threw Gordon a worried look. It’ll be all right,” he assured him.
The kids stopped playing as the limousine glided onto the ice. They looked at one another nervously. They huddled close together and waited anxiously as the limousine came to a stop and the door swung open. Terry Hall stepped out from the group and confronted Gordon.
“Yo, dude,” he said. “What’s your problem? You obviously in the wrong ‘hood.” He gave Gordon a meaningful look. “This is my dominion.” He said with emphasis. “This is a drug free zone, you understand? We ain’t buyin’ nothin’. Now I’m feeling generous today, so get your sorry vanilla booty outta here or we’ll be using your eyeballs as hockey pucks!”
“Thanks, bro,” said Gordon, reaching into his coat pocket. “But I’m not going home until I take care of business.”
There was a gasp, and the kids jumped back. Karp even muttered a quick prayer.
Gordon whipped out a folded piece of paper. The kids sighed with relief. “The District Five hockey team,” Gordon said. “That wouldn’t be you guys by any chance would it?” The kids stared at one another. “My name’s Gordon Bombay,” he explained, “I’m the new coach.”
The kids broke into laughter. “What?” Exclaimed Jesse Hall, Terry’s younger brother. “No way.”
“‘Fraid so, dude,” replied Gordon, holding up a piece of paper. “I’ve got the roster right here.” He began reading off names from the list.
“Shoot,” said a kid named Guy. “He is the coach!”
“Okay, everybody listen up,” Gordon said impatiently. “Here’s the long and the short of it. I hate hockey, and I don’t like kids.”
“Is this supposed to be a pep talk?” Asked Peter.
“Look,” said Gordon. “I’m sure this will be a bonding experience. And maybe one of you will write a book about it in jail.” He looked around. “Is there a goalie?”
Goldberg reluctantly raised his hand. “Only for a little while.” He said. “I’m going back to Philly.”
“Oh, glad to hear it.” Said Gordon flatly. “Well, get out onto the ice. Let me see what you can do.”
“Just so you know,” Averman warned Gordon. “We really suck.”
“Hey,” Gordon snapped. “I’ll decide who sucks around here, okay?”
The kids skated out to center ice and formed a slipshod circle. They tried passing the puck, but most of the passes sailed wide.
Gordon watched from a spot next to his limo. What he saw was not encouraging.
Next, Peter and Guy stood head-to-head for a face-off. Averman, acting as the ref, dropped the puck. Peter and Guy fought for the puck, but the blades of their sticks became tangled and they toppled over one another.
From the sidelines Averman entertained himself doing the play-by-play. “There’s the Petemeister.” He intoned. “Mr. Rabble-rouser. Taking the face-off against Guy, the little Geester, and ohhhh, down they go!”
Meanwhile Goldberg took his position in front of the net. But as soon as he saw Terry and Karp skating toward him, he dove out of the way. Terry and Karp crashed into him like a bowling ball knocking down the ten pin.
Gordon rolled his eyes. “They really suck,” he muttered.
After a few more minutes of practice, one of the players skated up to Gordon. “Hi coach,” she said sweetly. “I’m Connie. Do you play?”
“No.” Gordon said flatly. “What’s our record, anyway?”
“Oh and nine,” said Connie. “One was pretty close though. We lost by only five. We almost scored a goal too.”
Gordon looked away unimpressed.
The kids finished their practice and skated over to Gordon.
“What do we do now, Coach?” Jesse asked.
“What did your old coach have you do?” Asked Gordon.
“He just yelled a lot.” Said Charlie.
“Yeah.” Added Terry. That’s how he hurt his arm.”
“His arm?” Asked Gordon.
Peter stepped forward. “One minute he’s yelling at us,” he explained. “You little goons, where’d ya learn to play the game! You basket cases-AHHH!’” In imitation of the former coach Peter grabbed his left arm and fell to the ground.
Gordon shook his head and looked away. “Heart attack,” he said. “Great.” He opened the door of his limo. “Look I gotta make a phone call.” He explained as he climbed in. “Just keep scrimmaging. That ought to eat up some community service time.” He haphazardly pointed from one player to the next. “You, you, you, and you against you, you, you and you.”
“Hey we got names ya know!” Said an offended Goldberg.
“I’m sure you do.” Replied Gordon his tone thick with sarcasm. “And I’m sure they’re nice names, to. I might even learn them, but for now I’ll be in my office. Oh, and if you need anything, fax me.”
Gordon slammed the door.
“What a jerk.” Peter said.
“Where do they find these coaches?” Averman complained resentfully. “I mean we’re impressionable kids. Shouldn’t we check his qualifications or something?”
Inside the limo Gordon poured himself a hot cup of coffee from the built in kitchen and phoned his office. He asked Jeannie for his messages. His face went crimson with anger.
“Who told you not to give me my messages?” Gordon shouted at Jeannie. “Ducksworth? Who’s handling my cases then?” He demanded. “Jane!” He exclaimed spitting out his coffee. “Are you kidding me? She’s not qualified to handle–” just then Gordon noticed that the limousine had begun to shake. He put down the phone and looked out the window.
“Hey, stop it!” Gordon shouted. The kids had climbed onto the roof of the limousine. “What do you think you’re doing?”
“Get off!” Growled Lewis. “Get off the car.
The next thing the two men knew, the doors of the limousine were yanked open and the kids piled in.
“Hey is that a real phone?” Asked Karp excitedly. He grabbed it out of Gordon’s hands.
“Yes.” Snapped Gordon grabbing it back. “And I’m on it!” Karp smiled sheepishly. “Not anymore.” The phone cord had been slashed by a skate blade.
“Great.” Said Gordon staring helplessly at the phone. Gordon was crunched between Goldberg and Averman. Jesse, Connie, and Karp sat across from him, tossing around a glass Karp had snatched from the portable bar.
Peter and Terry were crammed into the front seat next to Lewis.
“We want a ride!” Connie shouted.
“We want a ride!” The others chimed in. “We want a ride! We want a ride!”
“I could kill one of them to set an example sir.” Lewis suggested.
“Not yet Lewis,” replied Gordon. “Take ‘em for a spin. Anything to shut them up.”
The kids cheered as the limousine pulled out farther onto the ice. Just then Lewis noticed a young woman running across the pond toward them, waving her arms.
“Oh no,” said Charlie. “That’s my mom. She looks mad.”
Lewis brought the limo to a slow stop. Casey Conway stormed to the back door and pulled it open.
“All right, out,” she ordered. “Everybody out now.”
Gordon got out of the car and smiled. Casey Conway was not amused. “Are you out of your mind?” She angrily demanded. “What were you thinking putting the car on the ice? My son was in that car.”
“If you let me get a word in –,” said Gordon politely.
“One crack in the ice, that’s all it would take. One crack!”
“The ice isn’t going to crack,” Gordon explained
“Who do you think you are?” Asked Casey.
“I’m trying to tell you,” answered Gordon. “My name’s Gordon Bombay. I’m the new hockey coach.”
Charlie’s mother was incredulous. “The new coach? They send you to coach the team and you endanger their lives?”
“What danger?” Gordon asked innocently. “I grew up on the ice. I know when it’s safe to drive on.”
“How do you know?” Asked Casey.
“I just know, all right?”
“Well listen Mr. Zen Master.” She said angrily. “You may be in tune with the ice universe, but when it comes to my kid ‘I just know’ isn’t good enough.” She turned away. “Let’s go Charlie.”
Charlie was embarrassed. “Sorry my mom ruined it guys.” He apologized.
Gordon shook his head. “All right.” He said. “Practice is over.”
Charlie stopped and looked back at Gordon. “You going to be at the game tomorrow?” He asked.
Gordon sighed. “By order of the state of Minnesota, yeah.” Four hundred and ninety-nine hours to go, Gordon thought to himself. And counting.
Chapter 6: It Had To Be The Hawks
The next day the Minneapolis Arena rink was filled with anxious fans. On the ice the Hawks circled menacingly, warming up to face District Five. The Hawks looked impressive in their black uniforms. Their skates slit the ice like razors. They skated through a cross over drill in perfect harmony, then fell right into a passing drill.
The Hawks were a smooth, well-oiled machine.
By comparison, the District Five team looked like rank amateurs. During warm-up the players sat on their bench. No one had ever taught them a drill. Instead of snappy uniforms, they all wore red sweatshirts with the words District Five in masking tape across the front.
The only warm-up they knew how to do was watching the Hawks prepare to slaughter them on the ice.
Two Hawks players, Larson and McGill, skated over to the District Five bench.
“Hi girls.” Taunted McGill.
Peter lunged at McGill but Averman and Karp held him back.
Gordon walked out onto the ice and shook his head. “The Hawks,” he groaned. “My first game, and it had to be the Hawks.’ A long row of banners hung from the ceiling. Each banner commemorated a Hawks league championship. Every banner was black except one – 1973. That banner was yellow: second place.
Gordon remembered that year well.
“Gordon?” Came a familiar voice. “Gordon Bombay?”
Gordon turned. “Coach Reilly.” Said Gordon blandly.
Reilly smiled. “We’re both adults now.” He said. “Why don’t you just call me Jack? What are you doing here?”
“Actually,” Gordon said, “I’m coaching peewee. The District Five team.”
Reilly chuckled mirthlessly. “No kidding. You got a kid on the team or something?”
“No.” Answered Gordon. “I’m just doing this because I need to be of service to the community.”
Reilly shook his head and grinned. “How about this,” he said. “Who’d ever have thought that one day we’d be coaching against each other?”
Gordon ignored the remark. “Who’s your hotshot player?” Gordon asked. “Anybody good?”
Reilly looked across the ice to his bench. “I got a kid named Adam Banks,” he said. “Not quite as good as you were but he wants it more. He won’t give up.” Deliberately Reilly looked up at the single yellow banner. “Boy, I wish they’d take that one down.” He lamented. “Don’t you?” He turned to Gordon and smiled. “Well good luck. I think you’re gonna need it.”
Gordon felt as if he were caught in some kind of time warp. He began to relive those final moments of the game of ‘73 in his mind.
“All right, Gordon.” He heard Reilly say. “It’s up to you. You miss this shot, you’re letting the whole team down.”
It was so long ago, Gordon thought to himself. Then again, it seemed like only yesterday.
“WIN, WIN, WIN!” The Hawks chanted.
The Hawks players were gathered around Reilly followed his lead as he conducted them in their victory chant.
Gordon watched from the District Five bench. He turned to his ragtag team. “Okay everybody in here, gather around.” The kids crowded together. “Win, win, win,” began Gordon. He waited for the kids to join in. Instead, they looked at each other in confusion. Gordon tried again. “Win, win, win!”
Now the kids understood. They began to weakly follow his chant. From that point they petered out entirely everyone a bit embarrassed by it.
“Yeah,” sighed Gordon hopelessly. “We’re all fired up.”
A few minutes later the teams took the ice. The starting five Hawks players skated past their goalie and gave him the traditional good luck tap on his pads with the blades of their hockey sticks.
Guy skated past Goldberg and gave him a tap too. Unfortunately the tap was a little too hard, and Goldberg clutched his shins howling in pain.
Then Jesse, Terry, and Peter skated by Goldberg as well sloppily swinging their sticks. Goldberg twisted and turned. Finally Charlie skated past Goldberg and accidentally hooked his blade in Goldberg’s pads, spinning both players onto the ice.
Gordon watched all this and groaned.
Only 482 hours to go, he thought.
“Humm-batter, humm-batter,” chanted Averman from the bench.
“It’s hockey Averman,” explained Gordon wearily. “There’s no batter.”
Averman considered then said. “Humm-goalie, humm-goalie, save-goalie, save-goalie…”
The ref got in position to drop the puck to start the game. Guy and McGill hunched over for the face-off.
The ref dropped the puck. McGill swiped it from Guy then passed it to the Hawks’ star player, Banks, on left wing. The Hawks fans roared. McGill and Banks zoomed down the ice toward the District Five goal, easily shucking defenders along the way.
Jesse skated up to Banks. Banks faked left, then right. Jesse slipped and fell down. Banks made a beeline for the goal. He fired the puck. Goldberg dove to his left as the puck went right. Goldberg had missed by a mile.
Score one for the Hawks. The crowd roared. The Hawks quickly made it 2-0 when Larson took a pass from McGill and slipped the puck easily through Goldberg’s legs. The Hawks were having fun. It was already 3-0 in the first period when Banks decided to try a slap shot from center ice. He scored easily. Gordon looked up at the clock and sighed.
It had already been a long day, and it wasn’t even half over. At the end of the second period the score was Hawks 11, District Five 0.
“How lazy can you be?” Gordon shouted at the team as the players skated over to the bench between periods. “They’re killing us. How many times do I have to tell you? Get those heads up, get those loose pucks, get those rebounds, just…just…” Gordon sighed with resignation. “Just get out of here.” He said.
By the middle of the third period, it was Hawks 15, District Five 0. It was the worst defeat Gordon had ever witnessed. Then as if out of nowhere, Charlie Conway got hold of a loose puck. Gordon instantly jumped to his feet. Between Charlie and the goal there was nothing but forty feet of empty ice. “Way to go, Charlie.” Shouted Gordon. “Way to go.”
Maybe he’d finally get to score a goal against the Hawks – and Coach Reilly.
Karp, who was sitting next to Gordon on the bench, knew better. “It’s Spazway.” He told Gordon shaking his head. “He’ll screw up.”
All eyes were on Charlie as he guided the puck thirty, twenty, ten feet from the goal. He brought his arm back for the slap shot. SWOOSH! Gordon groaned. Charlie missed the puck entirely and slip into the boards behind the goal.
Gordon shook his head as Charlie skated off the ice onto the bench. “Nice miss, Charlie.” He said. “Keep swinging. You might give them a goal.”
The last seconds of the final period were ticking down. Not surprisingly the Hawks had control of the puck and were passing it leisurely back and forth. To Goldberg it looked as if there were a hundred Hawks coming straight at him.
Utterly accustomed to total defeat, Goldberg threw down his stick, pulled off his gloves, and flung his arms up in helpless resignation. He then politely stepped out of the way as the Hawks scored their final goal.
Gordon breathed a sigh of relief when the horn blew to end the game. Final score: Hawks 17, District Five 0.
It was another victory for the Hawks. And another defeat for District Five.
Jubilant in victory, the Hawks gathered around Coach Reilly.
“Don’t go getting any big heads.” He warned them. “Anybody could’ve beaten those pansies.” Then he smiled at Banks. “Nice going Banks.”
“Thanks coach.” Said Banks.
Reilly couldn’t help but smile at the dejected look on Gordon Bombay’s face.
“Good game Gordon!” He called. “I enjoyed it thoroughly.”
Gordon was livid as the kids skated to the bench. “You guys stink!” He yelled. “You stunk up the ice! I thought we came here to play hockey.”
“I knew we forgot something.” Quipped Peter.
“Oh you think it’s funny?” Demanded Gordon. “You think losing is funny?”
“Not at first.” Explained Averman. “But once you get the hang of it –”
“You made me look like a fool out there.” Gordon moaned.
“Hey,” Jesse shot back. “We’re the ones who got our butts kicked.”
“Yeah.” Added Terry. “It’s not like you coached us or anything. I mean, we tried–”
“You don’t listen to a word I say.” Gordon snapped. “I say keep your heads up, you put your heads down. I say hustle, you go slower. That was the sloppiest play I’ve ever seen. Why don’t you listen to me?”
Jesse took a step toward Gordon. “Why should we?” He asked in a challenging tone. He slipped on his shades and skated to the locker room.
The other players stared at Gordon in silence.
“I don’t care,” said Gordon suddenly. “You can lose. You’re the ones who look like idiots out there!”
Gordon turned to walk away but a glance into the stands froze him in his tracks a tall white-haired man in a windbreaker was climbing the stairs toward an exit.
“Hans?” Gordon muttered to himself.
Gordon pushed his way through the crowd toward the doors of the arena. But it was too late. By the time he made it outside, the man was gone.
Chapter 7: Fulton
It was worth more then a million bucks.
It was worth more then hitting your teacher with a thousand spit-balls while his back is turned-and never being caught.
What it was, was a box filled with Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Editions.
Karp had found them in the trash on the sidewalk outside his apartment building.
“I don’t believe it.” Said Averman who was trying to keep his glasses from sliding down his nose. “Who would throw these away?” He grabbed for an issue.
“Hold it,” ordered Karp suddenly the businessman. “First look’s free. Next five minutes cost a buck each.”
Averman ignored him. “Forget it Karp.” He said pulling an issue out of the box. “I can see this every day on MTV.”
Karp tried to get the magazine back from Averman, but Averman passed it to Guy. Guy flipped it open to a page where a scantily clad model was languishing on a Caribbean seashore. Jesse grabbed the magazine from Guy. When Karp tried to grab it back, Jesse tossed it to Charlie.
“Hey this one’s from Minneapolis.” Shouted Peter as he pointed to a model in one of the photographs. “Hey Guy,” he wisecracked, “It’s your mom!”
The kids laughed, and Peter jumped up and ran off down the alley. Guy and the other kids chased after him. “Wedgie!” Yelled Guy as they pinned Peter against the wall.
Just then three Hawks players-McGill, Larson, and Banks-skated up on rollerblades.
“Hi, girls.” Said McGill with a smirk. He grabbed a magazine.
“Hey give that back!” Shouted Karp.
“Does you mommy know you have these?” Asked Larson.
“Those are mine.” Said Karp. “I found ‘em.”
Larson began to skate around Karp. McGill and Banks joined in.
“You don’t even know what to do with them, wuss breath.” Taunted McGill.
Peter leaned over to Karp. “Are you gonna let him call you wuss breath?” He whispered.
Karp’s lips tightened into a thin line, and his face turned red. “NOOOOOO!” He yelled and leapt at Larson.
Larson easily jumped out of the way, and Karp tumbled into a pile of trash. McGill and banks piled on Karp, hammering him with punches. Just as the other kids jumped onto the pile, Larson and McGill were yanked to their feet. It was Fulton. Fulton was so big and powerful he could lift Larson off t he ground with one hand. The three boys scrambled to their feet and stared at Fulton, terrified.
Fulton growled and the boys skated off.
“Thanks,” the kids muttered.
Fulton didn’t smile. He didn’t say a thing. He just turned and walked away.
Chapter 8: The Mighty Cheaters
Gordon Bombay had an idea.
“All right,” he said that afternoon at practice. “A few things are obvious. You can’t skate. You can’t pass. You can’t shoot. But you fall down as well as any team I’ve ever seen. So let’s use that to our advantage.”
“Like how?” Asked Karp.
“By putting a few of their guys in the penalty box,” answered Gordon. “And that’s what we’re going to learn today.”
Gordon broke the team up into pairs and began teaching them how to take dives.
First up was Karp. “Now if you’re going to take an Olympic dive, you gotta make it look good.” He demonstrated with his hands. “One, two three-boom!”
Karp did as he was told. He began swiping at the puck-one, two, three-then tripped over his hockey stick and landed on his face.
Gordon smiled. He was right. Falling down was something these kids did know how to do well.
The next hour the kids practiced a variety of hooks, tumbles, hacks, slashes, and trips. They seemed to take it without much effort.
Next, Gordon taught them a special chant.
“Good, good.” Said Gordon as they recited the chant. “Say it again.”
“Take the fall!” Shouted the kids in unison. “Act hurt! Get indignant.”
“One more time!” Said Gordon.
“TAKE THE FALL! ACT HURT! GET INDIGNANT!”
“Okay.” Said Gordon. “You guys are ready.”
The next day District Five was on the ice of the Minneapolis Arena rink against the Jets. From the first drop of the puck, District Five worked hard. They tripped. They fell. They tumbled. But the ref wouldn’t blow the whistle and call a penalty.
So they tried a little harder.
As one of the Jets broke in alone on the District Five goal, Goldberg decided to take a fall. He dropped onto his back, twisting and writhing on the ice. He groaned as if he was in terrible pain.
The Jet easily pushed the puck past Goldberg into the net.
“Goldberg!” Complained Gordon after the play. “You don’t take a fall while they’re shooting at you!”
“Oh?” Asked Goldberg with a shrug. “Well, I guess you didn’t explain that very well then, did you?”
Just then the ref skated to the bench. He was angry. “Hey, District Five,” he said sternly, “Let’s stop the acting class huh? One more dive and I’m forfeiting for the Jets.”
“What?” Said Gordon innocently. “I’m insulted by that.” After the ref skated off, Gordon sighed. It was hopeless, he thought.
Later in the second period, Charlie was about to take the face-off. Gordon called him over to the bench.
“Look,” Gordon told him. “That guy is twice your size. So next time he gets you in the corner like that, grab your eye like it’s cut. Then hit the ice. Got it?”
Charlie stared at Gordon without saying yes or no, then skated back for the face-off.
The ref dropped the puck. The Jets player slapped it against the boards. Charlie hustled after it. The Jet slammed into him as they both struggled to control the puck.
From the bench, Gordon watched eagerly. “That’s it, Charlie!” He shouted. Gordon waited for Charlie to fake the hit and go down.
Instead, Charlie backed off. The Jet got the puck and flipped it to a teammate, who shot and scored. From that point on, things just got worse for District Five.
“Man.” Said Terry later as they brooded in the locker room after the game, “We can’t even win when we cheat.”
“Stupid cake-eater tricks,” complained Jesse angrily.
Then the door flew open. Gordon was enraged. He headed straight for Charlie. “What’s the matter with you?” He demanded. “When I tell you to do something out there, you do it. You got it?”
Charlie dropped his eyes to the floor.
“Look at me,” Gordon ordered. “You got it?”
Charlie looked at Gordon. His eyes were damp with tears.
“You can’t make me cheat,” he told Gordon. He swiped at his eyes turned and ran from the locker room.
Gordon stood there, unsure what to do next. The kids were staring at him. It was almost a relief when Mr. Hall barged into the locker room.
“Jesse, Terry,” said Mr. Hall, “let’s go.”
Jesse and Terry gathered up their gear and walked out. At the door Mr. Hall turned to Gordon.
“This is what I gave up my overtime pay for?” He said angrily. “To see my kids taking falls?”
Mr. Hall shook his head in disgust.
Gordon was speechless. He wondered how many more hours of community service he had left. Somewhere along the way he had lost count.
Chapter 9: Hans
That night Gordon stood outside a chalet-style building. It was just as he remembered it. Hans’ Sports Shop.
The store was closed, so Gordon walked around to the back and looked through the window. He saw sparks glowing in the darkness.
He opened the door. He could hear the sound of metal scraping metal. Silhouetted in the darkness was Hans.
“Gordon.” Said Hans without even turning around.
Gordon was stunned. “How did you know?” He asked.
“Through the back door at this time of night?” Answered Hans. He had a soft kindly voice. “Just like you used to. You’d stand there for hours watching me do this.”
Hans switched on a light and removed the goggles he wore to protect his eyes from sparks.
“What do you think?” Asked Hans, holding up a pair of skates. “Is that sharp enough?”
Gordon nodded. Hans smiled and ran his thumb across the blade. “Ow!” He exclaimed suddenly.
Gordon stepped forward. “Did you cut yourself?”
“No,” Hans replied with a laugh. “But you always fell for that.”
“You’re morbid, Hans.”
He shrugged. “I’m Scandinavian.”
Both men laughed.
“It’s good to see you, Hans,” said Gordon.
“Sure sure,” said Hans. “You probably thought I was dead.”
Gordon followed Hans into the main room of the shop. The shelves were filled with all kinds of sports gear. Trophies and plaques adorned the walls. One wall was plastered with photographs and old newspaper clippings of local hockey games over the years.
“You were at the game last night,” said Gordon. “Why didn’t you say something?”
“You were so busy screaming at the kids,” Hans said. “I didn’t want to spoil the moment.”
Gordon decided to change the subject. “Everything’s the same.” He said looking around the shop.
“The game never changes,” said Hans. “Why should my store? I heard you became a doctor”
“Oh. Too bad. You enjoy it?”
“I hardly ever lose a case.”
Hans looked at Gordon. “That’s not what I asked.”
“I see you’ve still got that up.” Said Gordon, pointing at a framed newspaper clipping on the wall. The headline read HAWKS’ CHAMPIONSHIP STRING ENDS and showed a photograph of Gordon, at age ten, storming in on the net all alone. “Thanks very much.”
“It’s important to remember the past.” Said Hans.
“Well I’d just as soon forget about it, Hans,” said Gordon sighing. “That was the worst time of my life. Dad died that year.”
“The two were not related.”
“No. But it felt like it.”
Hans moved closer to Gordon. He held a photograph in his hand. “I found this one not long ago,” he said handing it to Gordon. It was a photograph of Gordon as a young boy. He was holding a scoring trophy; his father was standing next to him.
“He was proud of you,” Hans told Gordon.
“I miss him.” Said Gordon.
“You scored one hundred and ninety-eight goals that season,” remembered Hans. “It was a shame you quit. You–”
“– could have gone all the way.” Finished Gordon. “I know.”
“You really loved to play.” Said Hans. “Remember? You used to play on the pond until after dark. Until your father called you in. You really flew on that ice Gordon.”
“It’s all I ever wanted to do.”
“What happened to you? Reilly? I saw what he did to you. Reilly is an idiot.”
“The guy wins.” Answered Gordon.
“It’s not about winning, Gordon.” Hans said. “It never was. Just show them how to play. To have fun. Teach them how to fly. That’s what they’ll remember long after you go back to being a doctor.”
“Lawyer.” Gordon reminded Hans.
“And long after they stop getting skates from me,” said Hans. “Here.” He held up a pair of skated. “Sharpened, laced, and ready to go.”
“What?” asked Gordon confused.
“Your new skates.” Explained Hans. “That’s why you came tonight isn’t it? I figured you’re a size nine and a half.”
“I’m a nine.” Said Gordon.
Hans smiled. “Wear thick socks.” He pushed the new skates into Gordon’s hands. “Enjoy them.”
Chapter 10: An Apology
Lewis parked the limousine in front of the tenement house. Gordon told him to wait; he would be only a few minutes. Then Gordon got out of the car, checked the number over the entrance of the building and went in.
He climbed the three flights of stairs to the Conway’s’ apartment and rang the bell. The bell didn’t work, so he gently knocked on the door.
The door opened slightly. Casey Conway did not looked pleased to see him.
“Hi,” said Gordon. “Look, I wanted to –”
Casey tried to shut the door, but Gordon held it open.
“Please go away,” said Casey. “Charlie doesn’t want to be on the team anymore, and neither he nor I have anything to say to you.”
“Well, I’ve got something to say to you,” insisted Gordon.
“Oh really,” replied Casey smirking. “Door-to-door mistreatment now huh? So your team can feel miserable between games, too.”
“I’d like to apologize.” Gordon said.
Casey was surprised. “What?” She asked.
“Apologize.” He replied shyly.
Casey hesitated. Gordon shuffled uncomfortably. “Well,” she said finally. “You should.”
She opened the door and gestured him in. The apartment was tiny but comfortable – and very cold. Casey Conway wore a thick sweater, and Gordon decided to keep his overcoat on.
“Charlie,” Casey called out. “Somebody here to see you.”
Charlie bounded out of his bedroom and into the living room. When he saw Gordon he stopped dead in his tracks.
“Hey, Charlie.” Said Gordon. “How you doing?”
Charlie looked at Gordon suspiciously. He sat down on the couch.
“I was just walking around,” Gordon continued. “I was thinking and I, uh –” he turned to Casey. “Can we be left alone?” He asked her.
Casey nodded and went into the kitchen. Gordon sat down next to Charlie.
“Listen,” Gordon said. “It was very wrong of me to ask you and the other guys to cheat. I shouldn’t have said what I did to you. I was angry and frustrated and well it took a lot of guts to do what you knew was right. I admire that. And I just want to say that I…well…this is tough for me…I…I…”
“You’re sorry!” Casey prodded from the other room.
“I’m sorry,” repeated Gordon. Then he called back to the kitchen, “I’m sorry all right?” Gordon turned to Charlie. “I hope you can forgive me,” he said. “Tell your mom, that, hopefully, it’ll be more fun then it has been.”
There was an uncomfortable silence. Gordon wondered if Charlie had heard a word he’d said.
“You want to stay for dinner?” he asked Gordon unexpectedly.
Gordon was stunned. “What?” He asked.
Casey came running into the room. “Charlie!” She exclaimed with embarrassment.
“No,” said Gordon politely. “I really shouldn’t…” He looked at Casey. Suddenly Gordon grinned. “What are you having?”
Chapter 11: Scrambled Eggheads
Gordon arrived at the offices of Ducksworth, Saver and Gross early the next morning. Jeannie was stunned. Instead of the usual flashy and expensive Italian suit, Gordon was wearing jeans and sneakers. To Jeannie he looked almost… normal. He even poured himself his own cup of coffee.
Ducksworth was pleased to see Gordon. Community service had been good for Gordon, he decided. He looked more relaxed and more at ease with himself.
“There are two reasons I came by sir,” Gordon explained. “First of all, to let you know that things are going well. I’m learning a lot about teamwork and fair play and all that stuff.”
“Good, good.” Replied Ducksworth. “And the second thing?”
Gordon stopped closer to the desk.
“The truth is sir,” he began, “fair play doesn’t come cheap. These kids-my team-they have no money. They can’t afford skates, or rink time, or equipment, or proper uniforms, which makes it hard for them to compete.” Gordon painted him a picture. “Imagine sir, being ten years old, stepping onto the ice with old copies of newspapers taped to your shins instead of pads.”
Ducksworth gave Gordon a look. “How much are we talking about?” he asked.
“Fifteen thousand.” Said Gordon
“No way,” replied Ducksworth.
“Sir,” Gordon insisted, “Think of the goodwill. We name the team after the firm, and suddenly we’re the good guys. Ducksworth, Saver and Gross: the firm that saved the community.”
Ducksworth paused to consider.
“I’ll get you your own jersey,” added Gordon.
Ducksworth had to give Gordon credit. Gordon really could talk his way through anything.
An hour later Gordon and the District Five team arrived at Hans’s Sports Shop in a brand-new passenger van.
The kids were so excited they piled in as if they had been given a gift certificate to a candy store.
Terry and Karp slipped on some hockey gloves and boxed one another. Goldberg grabbed a pair of thick goalie pants and tried squeezing into them. He had them halfway on, then stumbled and fell over.
Charlie stood in front of a rack of hockey sticks. When he found one he liked, he pulled it out. Suddenly the entire row of sticks came crashing down.
Averman and Jesse tried on shoulder pads, then butted shoulders.
Peter was rummaging through a stack of mesh jerseys when he noticed something on the wall. It was the newspaper clipping of Gordon as a boy on the day he lost the championship for the Hawks.
Coach was a Hawk, Peter thought with surprise.
Meanwhile, Charlie had walked over to a display in the center of the shop. A hockey stick was jutting out of what looked like an iceberg. It had been designed to look like Excalibur, the sword young Arthur had pulled from the rock to become king in the legendary folktale.
Charlie grabbed the stick but couldn’t make it budge. Just then a huge hand reached past him and took hold of the stick. Charlie looked up. It was Fulton.
Fulton slipped the stick from the display with ease.
Gordon was watching Fulton.
“Who’s that kid?” Gordon asked Jesse and Guy.
“That’s Fulton Reed.” Answered Guy. “He’s in our class.”
“Why isn’t he on the team?” Asked Gordon.
“He just plays football.” Explained Jesse. “I heard some preppie college gave him a scholarship as long as he doesn’t play hockey. They don’t want him getting hurt.”
“I heard it’s colleges.” Corrected Guy. “He’s already been excepted to four of them.”
Jesse shrugged and laughed. “I heard he’s got to repeat the sixth grade.”
At practice that afternoon Gordon noticed two kids, a boy and a girl, figure skating on the ice.
The two kids were good.
“Anybody know who they are?” Asked Gordon. He had already decided he needed skaters like that on the team.
“He’s in my class,” said Terry. “Tommy Duncan.” Then a dreamy look came over his face. “And that’s his sister Tammy.”
“You want them to play hockey with us?” Gordon asked. All the kids answered yes. “Go get dressed.” He told them, unable to take his eyes off the two figure skaters. “I’ll do the negotiating.”
Tammy was hesitant about playing hockey. It didn’t seem very graceful, she complained. It was Tommy who convinced her to join.
“Mom isn’t going to like this,” Tammy told him.
“So what?” Said Tommy. “You want me to figure skate then you gotta play hockey.”
“What do I know about hockey?” She asked playfully pushing her brother to the ground.
“More then you think.” Tommy said groaning.
Minutes later District Five was suited up and on the ice. Gordon had placed a row of orange stacking cones along the red line and ordered the team to practice skating in and around them.
“Okay,” he shouted. “Basics! Basics! SKATING!”
The kids did as they were told, carefully balancing themselves so not to knock down any of the cones. Everyone made it through without a hitch except for Charlie, who tripped on a cone and went sailing across the ice.
Next, Gordon took several cartons of eggs from a grocery bag. The kids crowded around him as Gordon held up an egg.
“Soft hands.” Said Gordon. “You don’t shoot the puck to the other guy. You sail it. Karp you send it.”
Karp stepped forward. Gordon placed the egg gently on the ice and tapped it smoothly toward Karp. Karp brought the blade of the stick to the egg. The players laughed as the egg smashed and splattered on the ice.
“And you don’t stop pass.” Gordon explained. “You accept it. You cradle it. Okay everybody. Grab an egg.”
Each of the kids took an egg, and they all formed a blue line facing Gordon. Averman swung first. It was a wild swing that broke his egg to bits.
“Again,” ordered Gordon. “Concentration, not strength.”
“Like in The Karate Kid, right?” Asked Averman brightly. “Wax on, wax off.”
Averman tried hitting the egg again and this time it didn’t break. Gordon scooped it onto his stick and sent it back to Charlie, who was next in line.
Charlie waited for the egg, tensed up, and then received it gently.
“Good job, Charlie,” said Gordon. “Great. Now sail it in.”
Charlie brought his stick back and swung. His swing was a little too enthusiastic. The egg splattered all over Gordon’s sweater.
Everyone laughed. “That’s okay,” Gordon said gently. “We’ll get it, we’ll get it.”
The egg drill continued for the better part of an hour. The kids passed eggs to each other in a pattern. Each time they sent one off, another came from across the way. Most of the kids got the knack of the pass pretty quickly. Everyone that is except Karp.
“I’m making omelets!” Karp shouted in frustration.
Gordon stepped up behind Karp. “Think soft,” he told the boy encouragingly. “Soft hands. Do it.”
Karp tried again. This time he cradled the egg on his stick. “Hey,” Karp cheered. “I got it! I got it!”
“Nice drill, Coach,” said Goldberg. “But when are you gonna work me in goal?”
Gordon had an impish smile on his face. “Do you trust me, Goldberg?” He asked.
Minutes later Goldberg wished he hadn’t said yes. Gordon stood Goldberg in the goal crease and tied his hands and legs to the posts. The rest of the team lined up not far away. It reminded Goldberg of a firing squad.
“My mother would not approve of this Coach,” cried Goldberg as Gordon unloaded a bag of pucks on the ice. “She would like me to live to be bar mitzvahed.”
“This is your bar mitzvah Goldberg.” Said Gordon. “Today you will become a man.” He turned to the team. “Ready?
“I’m gonna die,” Goldberg said fearfully. “I’m gonna die.”
“Aim!” Gordon yelled.
“Nice knowin’ ya Goldie!” called Peter.
“Oh, please,” cried Goldberg. “Please no…”
“FIRE!” Commanded Gordon.
Goldberg screamed as the first wave of pucks hit him in the chest and legs. Surprised Goldberg realized his pads completely protected him. The pucks bounced off him painlessly. Goldberg started to laugh. “Come on!” he coaxed gleefully. “Is that all you got? You wimps! Hit me with your best shot!”
Now Gordon started hitting the ice with his stick. Soon the rest of the team joined in with their sticks.
“I AM GOLDBERG!” He shouted proudly. “THE GOALIE!”
The applause died down, and Gordon called an end to practice.
“You guys tired?” He asked. The kids nodded. “You ache? You hungry?” They nodded some more. “Good. Be proud of yourselves kids. That was some practice.”
Happily the kids skated off the ice-all except Goldberg, who was still tied to the goalposts.
“Hey guys?” Goldberg called out. “Come on, guys. You can untie me now. Guys?”
But the rink was empty.
Chapter 12: “We’re the Ducks?”
CRACK! Lewis hit the brakes and brought the van to a screeching stop. The passenger window had been shattered.
Lewis saw a kid at the back of an alley. It was Fulton. He had a hockey stick in his hands and a guilty expression on his face. He had been shooting pucks into an open travelling trunk he had turned into a makeshift goal. Obviously, he had missed.
“Let me have him sir.” Said Lewis.
“No.” Said Gordon. “I’ll take care of it.”
Gordon jumped out of the car. Fulton suddenly tried to run, but Gordon had him cornered.
“Look it was an accident, all right?” Explained Fulton nervously.
“Never mind the window,” said Gordon. “Where’d you learn to shoot like that?”
Fulton hesitated. “Didn’t learn,” he said. “Just do it.”
Gordon smiled. “Do it again.” He said.
Fulton pulled back his stick and let one blast. It was like the puck had been shot from a gun. Gordon winced when he heard the sound of shattering glass.
“You’re good at hitting windows,” said Gordon. “Ever hit the net?”
“Yeah,” said Fulton defensively. Then he shrugged. “One out of five.”
“Is it true what they say? About the scholarships? And how they won’t let you play hockey?”
“People talk,” replied Fulton. “Don’t mean nothing.”
Gordon got the picture. The scholarship story was a cover-up. Fulton was hiding something.
“Then how come you don’t play for us?” He asked the boy.
“I don’t understand. You afraid?”
“No,” insisted Fulton. “I mean I really can’t, you moron. I don’t know how to skate.”
Fulton took another hard shot. The puck slammed into the trunk, knocking it backward about ten feet.
“Wow,” said Gordon.
“The Ducks?” Asked Jesse incredulously. “We’re the Ducks?”
It was the night before the game against the Cardinals. The team was gathered around Gordon in the locker room of the Minneapolis Arena. Casey was there too. Each kid held a green mesh jersey with the names Ducks emblazoned across the front.
“What brain-dead jerk came up with that name?” Asked Peter.
“As a matter of fact,” Gordon began. “I did. But I didn’t have a choice. We’re being sponsored.”
“By whom? Donald and Daisy?” Quipped Averman.
“You don’t want to be the Ducks?” Asked Gordon, sounding surprised. “You’d rather be District Five, some stupid number?”
“Better then being some stupid animal,” said Peter.
Gordon looked at the kids. He suddenly saw them as a jury. He decided he had to defend himself.
“Stupid animal?” He began. “I’ll have you know that the duck is one of the most noble, agile, and intelligent creatures in the animal kingdom.”
“They’re wimpy.” Said Connie.
“They don’t even have teeth.” Added Guy.
“Neither do hockey players.” Gordon joked. Some of the kids laughed. “Did you ever see a flock of ducks flying in perfect formation? Beautiful. Pretty neat the way they stick together, huh? Every winter they leave the pond and fly thousands of miles through sleet and snow. Ducks never say die!”
Gordon looked into the faces of the kids. The jury. All eyes on him now. He had them mesmerized.
“Ever see a duck fight?” He continued. “No. Why? All the other animals are afraid. ‘Cause if you mess wit ha duck, you’re messin’ with the whole flock.”
The kids started to nod. The idea was starting to seem cool to them. Then Gordon ripped open his overcoat. He was wearing his own Ducks jersey.
“Now,” said Gordon, “I’m proud to be a Duck. And I’m proud to fly with any of you. So, how about it? Who’s a Duck?”
There was silence. The kids looked at each other.
“I’ll be a Duck.” Said Fulton.
Charlie stood up next. “Me too,” he said.
All the kids joined in.
“Now you’re the Ducks,” Gordon said. “Proud and mighty. What are you?”
“We’re the Ducks!” everyone answered.
“What are you?” Yelled Gordon.
Chapter 13: Warm-Ups
The Cardinals had already begun their warm-up drills when the Ducks took the ice. The Cardinals had formed a circle and were moving in unison, scraping their hockey sticks along the ice as they went.
Several of the players glanced across the ice and broke away from their teammates when they noticed the Ducks’ warm-up drill. Instead of passing hockey pucks to each other, the Ducks were tossing a football around.
“Every time you have the puck, you’re the quarterback!” Gordon told his team. “Make eye contact with the receiver! Let her know it’s coming! Come on! Talk to each other! Talk to each other!”
“Man,” said a Cardinal to one of his teammates. “What a weird team.
Gordon broke away from the team and skated over to the bench where Fulton was sitting alone.
“How you doing?” He asked. “You ready?”
“I think so,” answered Fulton.
Gordon called to the team to clear the ice. Fulton rose to his feet unsteadily, then skated out to the empty Ducks zone. Gordon walked out with him, carrying a bucket of pucks.
Curious the Cardinals took a break from their warm-ups.
Gordon dumped five pucks onto the ice. “Okay,” Gordon whispered to Fulton. “Go ahead. Shoot your heart out.”
A hush fell over the stadium as Fulton pulled his stick back and blasted a shot. WHOOSH! The puck went flying into the net.
Fulton blasted another. CRASH! It slammed into the boards. CRACK! Another smashed into the Plexiglas. He then let go two more blistering shots that went sailing into the stands.
Then it was quiet. Fulton had run out of pucks. The Cardinals were standing stone still in amazement, their mouths agape.
Gordon smiled. “One out of five,” he said to himself.
Gordon pulled the team into a huddle.
“Let’s forget the past.” He told them. “We lost a few games. Tough. Now we’re the Ducks. And the Ducks are undefeated.”
The kids nodded. Then Gordon began to chant.
“Quack,” he chanted. “Quack, quack.”
The kids joined in. “Quack,” they started softly at first, then louder. “Quack! Quack! Quack! Quack!”
It was their own special chant.
Gordon sent Karp, Guy, Connie, Jesse, and Terry out as the starting five. Goldberg confidently took his position at goal.
The ref dropped the puck. Guy playing forward, swooped down on it and passed to Karp, who cradled the puck across the ice and into the Cardinals zone. Connie checked a Cardinals defenseman. The defenseman slipped and fell. As play continued, the Cardinals got the puck and charged in on the Ducks goal. Goldberg stopped a rolling puck from sliding into the net.
The Ducks had definitely improved.
By the second period the score was only 2-0 in favor of the Cardinals.
And it seemed as if the kids were actually having fun.
A roar came up from the crowd, and Gordon glanced up momentarily into the stands. People were cheering for the Ducks – his Ducks. He smiled.
Guy had passed the puck to Jesse, who had dropped it back to Averman. Averman nearly lost the puck but managed to get it to Terry. Terry skated in on the goalie, faked left, shot right, and stared in amazement as the puck sneaked into the net.
The Ducks had just scored their first goal!
The crowd cheered.
“That’s my boy!” Mr. Hall shouted proudly from the stands. Casey patted him on the back.
Midway through the third period the Cardinals brought the puck into the Ducks zone. A Cardinals forward wound up for a shot but Karp swooped in front of him to try to block it.
The Cardinal let go with his stick. The puck went flying and smashed into Karp’s helmet. Karp froze on his skates, then slowly sank to the ice in a daze. The ref blew the whistle, stopping the game. The Ducks surrounded Karp. Gordon rushed onto the ice and knelt next to Karp. He removed the boy’s helmet and held up two fingers.
“How many fingers do I have up?” Gordon asked Karp.
“He wouldn’t know that anyway.” Quipped Peter.
“Shut up Peter,” said Gordon. “Karp look at me.”
Karp looked at Gordon groggily.
“Geez look at this.” Said Guy. He held up Karp’s helmet. It had a dent in it.
Karp was helped off the ice. Gordon glanced up at the scoreboard. Third period was counting down, and it was still Cardinals 2, Ducks 1.
“Okay, we still got a chance here,” Gordon said as the Ducks crowded around him on the bench. “Jesse, Guy, Connie, Terry come here. It’s time for our secret weapon.”
Gordon turned to Fulton.
“Okay Fulton,” he said. “Remember: just like we talked about.
Fulton nodded, got off the bench, and lumbered onto the ice.
The Cardinals looked up in fear as Fulton took his place on the point.
“Oh no,” the goalie muttered to himself.
The starters for both teams took their places facing each other. The ref dropped the puck. Guy swiped at it and passed it to Jesse, who dropped it back to Fulton.
The Cardinals froze.
Fulton went into his windup.
One by one the Cardinals screamed and leapt out of the way. Even their goalie dove out of the crease.
Fulton didn’t shoot. Instead Connie skated past Fulton and took the puck. She flipped a quick pass to Guy, who was waiting at the goal crease.
Guy neatly flicked the puck into the empty net.
The Ducks fans cheered.
Casey and Mr. Hall leapt into the air.
It was 2-2 a tie. The Ducks’ first tie.
Chapter 14: Gordon, The Duck
That evening Gordon watched proudly as Hans updated the league standings on a scoreboard in his shop. Hans put a 1 in the tie column for the Ducks. Though in last place, the Ducks’ record now read 0-11-1.
“That tie of yours might be just what you need to make the playoffs.” Said Hans.
Gordon was stunned. “We have a shot at the playoffs?” He asked.
Hans pointed to the scoreboard. “Remember the Panthers got the measles and forfeited their season,” he said. “So, beat the Huskies and you’re in the playoffs.”
Gordon looked at the board. “Where we’ll eventually have to play the Hawks,” he said.
“So?” Asked Hans.
“So they’re a tough team,” Gordon insisted. “Nothing’s changed since I played.”
“Actually,” corrected Hans. “One thing has changed. You wouldn’t even be a Hawk now.”
Gordon looked at Hans with a quizzical expression. Hans led Gordon over to a map that hung next to the scoreboard. It was a map that broke Minnesota into separate districts.
“They redrew the district lines last year.” Hans explained. “The lake isn’t the boundary anymore. See? If you were playing today, you’d be a Duck.”
A broad smile came over Gordon’s face. “I’d be a Duck,” he said and laughed.
The next evening Gordon showed up at the rink early. The Hawks were warming up for their game against the Jets. Coach Reilly was going over some plays with his team when Gordon and an official from the league board approached the Hawks bench.
“Excuse me Coach Reilly,” the official interrupted. “I’m afraid there’s a bit of a problem. It seems that one of your players is ineligible.”
Reilly was stunned. He called Adam Banks over to the bench. As Banks skated off the ice, his father climbed down from the stands to see what the commotion was about.
“Is there a problem, Coach Reilly?” Asked Philip Banks.
“Just a mistake, Mr. Banks,” answered Reilly.
The official turned to Banks. “Are you this boy’s father?” He asked. “Four-thirty North Hennepin, is that your address?”
“Yes,” answered Mr. Banks.
“Then I’m afraid it’s no mistake,” said the official. “Your boy’s playing on the wrong team. According to league rules, Adam Banks should be playing for District Five.”
Mr. Banks was livid. “The Ducks?” He asked incredulously. “My son is a Hawk, not a Duck!”
Reilly turned to Gordon. “Is this your doing, Gordon?” He asked.
“Hey, league rules,” answered Gordon. “Adam can play with the Hawks tonight, but starting tomorrow he’s a Duck. And I’ll expect to see him at our next game. We’ll have a uniform waiting for him.”
“What?” Exclaimed Adam. “No way!”
“My son would rather not play then play for your team.” Announced Banks.
“If that’s the way you want it,” said Gordon. “But remember: If Adam plays for the Hawks, they’ll have to forfeit all their games for the rest of the season.” He turned to Reilly. “I’d hate to see that,” he said with a devilish grin.
Gordon turned and walked away.
“Gordon!” Reilly called out. “Bombay! You stop when I talk to you, son!”
“What’s the idea here?” He demanded angrily. “Are you out to sabotage me, is that it?”
“The law’s tough when it works against you isn’t it Jack?” Replied Gordon. “Look you’ve got a whole team full of Bankses. One kid won’t make a difference.”
Jesse and Peter had wandered over to the soda machine and found themselves within earshot of the two coaches.
“Even with Banks,” they overheard Reilly saying to Gordon, “What do you think you’re going to prove? F you and that bunch of losers?”
“That’s right,” Gordon answered sarcastically. “They’re losers. And we hate losers. They don’t deserve to live.”
Jesse and Peter were stunned to hear their coach call the Ducks losers. They ran back to the locker room to tell the others.
“Maybe you’re right,” continued Gordon to Reilly. “Maybe Banks won’t make a difference. But at least we’re playing by the rules.”
“Why did you turn against me, Bombay?” Reilly asked suddenly. “For six years I taught you how to skate, how to score, how to go for the W. You could’ve been one of the greats. And now look at you. You’re not even a has-been. You’re a never-was.”
For a moment the two men glared at each other.
Then it was Reilly’s turn to walk away.
Later in the locker room, Gordon was surprised that Jesse and Peter weren’t suited up.
“Why aren’t you guys in uniform?” He asked. “We’ve got a game in half an hour.” Then he turned to the rest of team. “Okay listen up,” he began. “I got some good news. We’re getting a new player-Adam Banks.”
The Ducks threw repulsed looks at Gordon.
“What?” Karp exclaimed in disgust. “He’s a Hawk.”
“He’s a good player,” insisted Gordon. “I think he can really help us.”
“Everybody hates him.” Said Jesse.
“We don’t need him,” added Connie.
“Look we do need him,” said Gordon. “If we can make it to the playoffs, he can be a big help.”
“If?” Asked Karp. “All of a sudden you don’t think we’re good enough?”
“No,” said Peter. “He thinks we’re losers.”
Everybody looked at Peter.
“That’s what he told Reilly,” Peter reported. “We heard what you said,” Peter snapped angrily. “You said we were losers. That we didn’t deserve to live. Right, Jesse?”
“That’s not what I meant,” said Gordon defensively.
“I saw that picture at Hans’s store,” said Peter. “You were a Hawk weren’t you? You guys stick together in the end don’t you? Well, I don’t need your stinking equipment.”
Peter dumped his equipment and his uniform on the floor and stormed out of the locker room.
“Come back here,” Gordon called after him. “Hey I’m talking to you!”
“Forget it sugar daddy,” said Jesse. “If you want to play, play with yourself. Come on Terry.”
Jesse left. Then Terry ripped off his shoulder pads, threw them onto the pile of discarded equipment, and ran after his brother.
Gordon glanced over at the rest of the team. They were all giving him the silent stare.
“I don’t believe this,” said Gordon. “The game starts in half an hour. Now I’m going out to the bench, ‘cause that’s where I’m supposed to be. Anyone who wants to join me can join me. Anyone who doesn’t… well…”
Gordon walked out of the locker room and went to the bench. The Flames were almost finished warming up.
The ref skated past the bench. “Game time, Coach.”
“They’re working themselves into a frenzy,” Gordon lied. “They’ll be out in a minute.”
Finally, Charlie and Fulton came out. They took the ice and began to skate around the Ducks’ half of the ice. The ref skated over to Gordon.
“Not much of a frenzy.” He remarked.
Gordon sighed. “Okay,” he told the ref. “We forfeit.”
Chapter 15: The Truth About Gordon
The next day Gordon wandered aimlessly around the city. He wondered how he could have lost the trust of the kids when they were so close to living a dream come true, so close to going for the W. Maybe that was the problem, he thought. Maybe he was still too consumed with going for the win and not with enjoying the game.
Gordon looked through the window of the diner where Casey Conway worked. She was pouring coffee for a customer. Charlie was sitting at the counter drinking a milk shake.
Gordon went into the diner and walked up to Charlie.
“Can I sit down?” He asked.
Charlie looked up and nodded.
“You talked to the guys?” Gordon asked.
“I tried,” said Charlie. “They think I’m a traitor.”
“I guess they really hate me.”
Charlie shrugged. “Is it true you were a Hawk?”
“Peter said you blew a big game once.”
“Well Peter’s right,” Gordon admitted. “Last game of the state finals. Tied two to two in the third period. And I get a penalty shot. I go in, I triple deke, I fake the goalie out of his pads, the puck’s headed in-and then-CLANG! I hit the post. And we lost in overtime. A quarter inch the other way, and it would have gone in.” He held up two fingers. “A quarter inch Charlie.”
“Of course,” Charlie pointed out, “a quarter inch the other way, you would have missed completely.”
Gordon laughed. “I guess I never thought of it that way.”
“Well,” said Charlie, “at least you got to play in a championship game. That must have been cool.”
Casey walked over. “Hey,” she said to Gordon. “You want a cup of coffee?”
“I’d love one,” he replied smiling.
“She has many fine qualities that men find attractive,” Charlie whispered to Gordon.
“I know that Charlie,” replied Gordon. “That fact hasn’t escaped me. So what kind of guys does she usually date?”
“Jerks,” Charlie said. “I mean, most of them like her. But as soon as they see me, warp speed! They’re gone!”
“Don’t take it personally, Charlie,” said Gordon.
“I wouldn’t even care,” said Charlie, “Except it’s not fair to my mom. She deserves somebody nice.” Charlie hesitated. “Are you going to come for dinner again?” He finally asked.
Gordon sighed. “I don’t know, Charlie,” he answered. “I’m not sure it’s a good idea. See that’s what I came here to tell you. I talked to Jesse and Terry’s dad. He’s going to take over coaching the rest of the year.”
“You’re quitting?” Asked Charlie.
“I’m stepping aside to keep the team together,” explained Gordon. “The guys can’t play for somebody they can’t trust.”
“I trust you,” insisted Charlie. And the other guys do too. They just don’t know it.”
“Charlie I’ve done all I can.”
“No you haven’t!” Said Charlie. “You have to tell them. Make them understand. You can’t walk out on the Ducks. We’re your team!”
“No, you’re not.” Said Gordon.
“We are too!” Said Charlie, leaping from his seat. “We weren’t the Ducks until you came along. You made us now you’re stuck with us!”
Gordon tried to answer but Charlie pushed past him and ran out of the diner.
Chapter 16: The Not-So-Mighty Ducksworth
“Thanks for coming on such short notice, Gordon.” Said Ducksworth as he led him into his office. “By the way your court release came. Congratulations. Your community service is over.”
“You’re kidding,” said Gordon. “So you wanted to talk about my getting back to work?”
Just then Gordon noticed a Ducks jersey encased in glass hanging on the wall.
“Oh good,” said Gordon. “You got your jersey. A lot’s been happening sir. The Ducks may even make the playoffs.”
From inside the room, someone laughed. Gordon looked in to see Coach Reilly standing by the window. Next to him stood Philip Banks.
“Gordon you know Coach Reilly and Mr. Banks,” said Mr. Ducksworth pleasantly.
“Sir,” Gordon whispered, “They’re the bad guys.”
“No,” corrected Ducksworth. “Phil Banks is one of my oldest friends. “Not to mention a source for much of our insurance work.”
“That’s great,” Gordon amended.”
“Gerald was kind enough to bring us all together here to try to work out this problem,” Banks said. “You see my son Adam wants to play for the Hawks. His older brother was a Hawk. All his little friends are Hawks. That’s where he belongs.”
“It’s a tradition,” added Coach Reilly. “You played, Gordon. You understand.”
“Sure I do,” said Gordon. “But the league’s already ruled on it.”
“We talked to the league.” Said Banks. “And we’ve worked out a deal.”
Gordon was astounded. “You cut a deal with a peewee hockey league?”
“Yes, Gordon,” Ducksworth said ignoring the sarcasm. “We did.”
Coach Reilly intervened. “The long and short of it,” he explained impatiently. “Is that Adam stays on the Hawks for the rest of the season. And next year they redraft the lines.”
“Correctly.” Added Banks.
“But the league gave one condition,” said Ducksworth.
“What’s that?” Asked Gordon.
“We need you to withdraw your protest.”
Gordon smiled expansively. The power had shifted. “That’s great,” said Gordon grinning from ear to ear.
“Good,” said Ducksworth. “Then it’s settled.”
“No sir,” explained Gordon. “You misunderstand me.” I can’t withdraw my protest.”
“What?” Exclaimed Banks.
“Mr. Ducksworth,” Gordon explained. “You wanted me to learn about fair play. And how to be a part of the team. And maybe I haven’t learned everything yet, but I remember something my dad once said: A team isn’t just a bunch of kids out to win. It’s something you belong to, something you feel. Something you have to earn. I can’t let my team down, sir.”
“Gordon I’ll make this simple.” Ducksworth said flatly. “Are you prepared to lose your job over some kids? Some game?”
“Sir, let me ask you,” countered Gordon. “Are you prepared to fire me over some kids? Some game?”
“Collect your personal things, Gordon.” He said. “You’re fired.”
Gordon shook his head sadly. “Yes Mr. Ducksworth.” He said. Then his voice took on a mocking tone. “Thank you, Mr. Ducksworth. Quack quack, Mr. Ducksworth. Quack quack quack, quack, quack!”
“Stop quacking Gordon!”
On his way out Gordon pointed to the framed jersey on the wall.
“You paid for the jersey,” he said, “but you didn’t earn it. Quack quack, gentlemen. See you in the playoffs.
Chapter 17: I Must Not Quack…
Mr. Altree stood in front of his sixth-grade class holding a red-and-blue model of a molecule.
“That’s right, the red is oxygen,” he said. “And what are the blue balls?” He asked. The class giggled.
“Hydrogen?” Answered Tommy.
“That is correct,” said the teacher. Now put these all together and you have a molecule that makes up ninety-six percent of your body. What is it?”
“Pizza!” one of the students wisecracked. The other students laughed.
Mr. Altree shook his head wearily. There was a knock on the door.
“It’s the principal,” said Mr. Altree. “I’ll be back in a second. Work on H2O! It’s a goodie.”
Karp and Averman turned around in their seats and looked at Charlie.
“How’d the forfeit go, Spazway?” Asked Karp.
“Did you score?” Asked Peter snickering.
“Leave me alone,” said Charlie. “I don’t care about the team anymore.”
“Sure,” said Peter. “Coach’s pet. Everybody knows he likes you best.”
“Likes his mom you mean,” corrected Karp.
Charlie jumped up and pulled at Karp’s shirt.
“Take it back, Karp.” Shouted Connie. She reached over and shoved Karp.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Karp shot back.
“Yeah,” added Peter. “You have no right shoving Karp.” Then Peter shoved Connie.
Guy lunged at Peter. “Don’t shove her.” He said. “She’s a girl.”
Connie responded by shoving Guy herself. “Don’t defend me.” She ordered.
“Cut it out guys,” Averman warned them. “Before Mr. Altree gets back.”
“Yeah,” said Charlie. “Cut it out.”
“Shut up Charlie,” said Averman.
Soon everyone started shoving everyone else. One of the kids grabbed Mr. Altree’s molecule model and started throwing the Styrofoam balls around the room.
“My atoms!” Cried Mr. Altree as he came back into the classroom.
“Sit!” ordered the principal. “Sit down! In your seats now!”
Slowly the children shuffled back to their seats.
“I have never in my life…” she grumbled. “What do you have to say for yourselves?”
They looked at one another.
“Quack,” they chanted. “Quack, quack, quack, quack, quack…”
Gordon found his team in Detention Room 223. They were lined up at all four corners of the blackboard, copying, I must not quack at the Principal over and over again.
Gordon smiled when he saw them.
“What do you want?” Asked Karp.
“To talk to you,” replied Gordon. “Sit down, all of you.” Nobody moved. “Okay, I’ll sit down,” quipped Gordon. “Look what’s done is done. I want to be your coach again.”
“You want to coach a bunch of losers?” Averman asked snidely.
“No,” replied Gordon. “I want to coach the Ducks.”
“What about the things you said?” Asked Karp. “You said we didn’t deserve to live.”
“I was being sarcastic,” Gordon explained. “Do you know what that means?”
“Noooooooo,” replied Karp stupidly.
“Okay,” said Gordon, “you do. I didn’t mean those things the way they sounded. You know what it’s like to be misunderstood?”
“Of course,” said Peter. “We’re kids.”
“So you forgive me?” Asked Gordon. “Can I still be your coach?”
“What about Banks?” Guy asked.
“If he wants, he’s on the team,” said Gordon “He should have been with you all year. It was you guys who were cheated. But I say we forget about all that garbage. We’re a team. I made you and I’m sticking with you. So what’s it going to be? We can play tomorrow night and have a shot at the playoffs, or we can forfeit again and the season’s over.”
The kids considered his proposal.
“Peter,” said Gordon. “What do you think?”
“Well,” he said, “it would help if we practiced first.”
The kids agreed.
Gordon smiled. “Let me see if I can get you guys out of detention,” he said. “You really quacked at the principal?”
The kids nodded and Gordon laughed.
“Are we Ducks or what!” He exclaimed happily.
The Ducks were back.
Chapter 18: Welcome, Cake-Eater
On Saturday morning the Ducks arrived at the rink ready to win. They were in the locker room when Adam Banks walked in.
A second later Gordon entered. He gave Banks a gentle slap on the back.
“I wasn’t sure if you’d show up,” he said.
“I just want to play hockey,” Adam said.
“Well I’m glad you came,” said Gordon. “You all know Adam Banks.”
“On behalf of the Ducks,” Charlie said politely, “I’d like to say welcome.”
Jesse walked up to Banks. He hadn’t forgotten how Banks had gone after him on the ice. “Cake-eater,” Jesse said to him.
“The Jess-man,” clowned Averman. “Dissin’ the new guy. The Jess-ter-”
“Shut up, Averman,” said Jesse. “Just puttin’ on a Ducks jersey doesn’t mean you’re a Duck,” Jesse told Banks.
The two boys stared each other down. The team pushed past Banks as they filed out of the locker room.
“They’re a great group once you get to know them,” said Gordon.
“I bet,” muttered Banks.
“Suit up. I’ll see you on the ice.”
By the middle of the second period, the score was Huskies 1, Ducks 0.
Adam Banks battled in front of the Huskies goal and was in perfect position to score.
“Hey, over here!” He shouted to his teammates.
“Come on!” Shouted Banks. “Do something with it!”
Jesse passed the puck to Charlie on right wing. Charlie guided the puck past a Huskies defenseman.
“In front!’ Banks shouted at Charlie. “Look at me!”
Charlie flipped a pass to him. Banks took the puck, spun, and poked it into the net.
The game was tied 1-1.
With only sixteen seconds left in the game and the score still tied, a skirmish on the ice resulted in a face-off in the Huskies zone. Gordon made a decision. He called Goldberg off the ice.
“You’re gonna sit this one out,” he told him.
“What?” Asked Karp. “You’re pulling the goalie when we’re tied?”
“A tie isn’t going to help us,” said Gordon. “We need the win. Fulton, you’re our extra man. Everybody just get the puck to Fulton.”
“We’re pulling the Statue of Liberty play?” He asked.
“No,” said Gordon. “Take your shot. You might get only one so it’s gotta be good.”
“But Coach,” said Fulton nervously. “One out of one?”
“Soft hands Fulton,” Guy reminded his teammate. “Concentration not strength.”
“That’s right,” agreed Gordon. “Now get out there. Keep it away from the Huskies, no matter what you do. Don’t let them have it.”
The Ducks managed to control the puck on the face-off, and as planned, Fulton took a pass and teed up for a final shot.
The crowd was roaring. “Shoot, Fulton, shoot!” Shouted Gordon from the bench. The clock was counting down rapidly.
Fulton took a deep breath. It couldn’t be one out of five now. It had to be one out of one.
He wound up and blasted away.
The puck screamed between the posts and ripped clean through the back of the net.
The Ducks had won!
Gordon punched a victory fist into the air. “We made the playoffs!” He shouted. “We made the playoffs!”
The Ducks were on their way!
Chapter 19: The Playoffs
“It’s not over folks,” came the voice of the announcer. “The Ducks are still in the game. Here comes their star player, Adam Banks, moving to the right, he shoots-he scores!”
It was nearing the end of the third period of the playoff game against the Hornets. Banks’ sudden goal tied the score at 3.
“Getting rough out there between the Ducks and the Hornets,” continued the announcer. “Here’s Adam Banks in the front now, he takes it past center ice, he shoots-he scores!”
The fans roared. Gordon and the rest of t he Ducks cheered from the bench.
The final seconds were ticking away.
“The puck is dropped,” said the announcer. “Banks steals it and passes to Hall. Hall grabs it, he shoots-he scores! What a shot!”
A moment later the buzzer sounded.
“The Ducks win it five to three!” The announcer said. “That’s it folks! In one week the Ducks will be on their way to the semi-finals against the Cardinals!”
Gordon and the rest of the Ducks raced onto the ice to congratulate their teammates.
One week later the Ducks played the Cardinals in the semi-finals, the game that would determine which team would make it to the state championship against the Hawks. Gordon couldn’t forget that it was against the Cardinals that the missed that penalty shot.
By the third period the game was intense.
“What a game so far, ladies and gentlemen,” came the excited voice of the announcer. “The Cardinals have it in their own zone. They’re trying to clear it out, past the blue line. It’s intercepted by the Ducks. Here’s the Ducks’ star, Adam Banks. Banks has great speed. It’s Banks right down the middle. He’s making great movies as he slips around the Cardinals defence. He shoots-he scores! BANKS SCORES!”
The Ducks took a 3-2 lead late into the game, then scored an insurance goal in the last minute.
“THAT DOES IT! CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?” The announcer cried out. “THE MIGHTY DUCKS WIN!”
The fans were delirious with excitement. The Ducks were playing for the state championship!
Gordon had already been thinking about their next game against the Hawks.
And against Coach Reilly. Just like old times.
Chapter 20: Ducks vs Hawks
The atmosphere in the New Hope Arena was tense as the Ducks and the Hawks lined up parallel to each other on the ice.
After singing the national anthem, the teams returned to their benches. Coach Reilly led the Hawks in their victory chant. Hawks fans in the crowd joined in.
“Come on Ducks,” Gordon urged his team. “We can be twice as loud as them.”
“Quack,” they began. “Quack, quack, quack! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK!”
Ducks fans picked up the chant too.
The Ducks broke out of their huddle and skated onto the ice.
Jesse pulled Banks aside. “Hey Banks, don’t forget what side you’re on,” he warned. Banks stared at Jesse.
Gordon approached Jesse. “He’s a Duck, Jesse,” Gordon told the boy. “He’ll play like a Duck.”
Banks was set to face off against his friend Pete McGill.
The ref dropped the puck, and Banks slapped at it. McGill shouldered him roughly and pushed him out of the way. Another Hawks player threw an elbow, knocking Banks down. By the time Banks got to his feet, the Hawks had scored an easy goal.
Gordon glanced down at Reilly on the Hawks bench. Reilly looked like a shark who had just made his first kill.
Banks controlled the next face-off. He charged down the ice towards the Hawks goal, but as soon as he crossed the blue line he was checked hard into the boards by another ex-teammate, Billy Larson.
Charlie Conway skated by and made a sweep for the puck but was knocked down by a rough crosscheck. Gordon screamed for a penalty, but the ref let it go. The Hawks grabbed the puck and moved it ahead. Averman made a play for the puck but got blindsided by a Hawks defender. The Hawks skated in two-on-oh against Goldberg. They scored easily.
As the game went on, Banks was being roughed up on every play. He tried to skate through the Hawks defensemen, but they were keying on him.
Goldberg managed to make a terrific save on one shot but an opportunistic Hawks player flicked in the rebound. The first period ended. The Hawks had jumped to a 3-0 lead. In between periods Gordon gathered the team around him.
“Don’t be scared of them Ducks. That’s what they want,” he told them. “Keep your heads up. Play proud. Let’s fly!”
The Ducks cheered and skated confidently back onto the ice.
Meanwhile Coach Reilly had pulled McGill and Larson to the side. “I want you to drop Banks like a bad habit,” he told them. “I want him out of the game, you got it?”
McGill smiled and nodded. Larson nodded too.
Banks took the puck on the opening face-off, but a Hawks player swiped it away from him. Banks went after it and got it back. He skated hard down the ice.
McGill and Larson raced after him. Just as Banks was about to shoot, McGill lunged forward and knocked him down. Banks fell down hard on the ice but still managed to slip the puck into the net. A goal!
The crowd roared, but then fell silent. Adam Banks was still lying facedown on the ice.
“Adam!” Larson shouted. “Adam, are you all right?” Players had gathered in a circle around him.
Larson turned to McGill. “What did you do?” He yelled angrily.
“My job,” sneered McGill.
Paramedics ran onto the ice and lifted Banks onto a stretcher. Luckily Adam w as not seriously hurt. In fact, on his way off the ice, Banks grabbed Jesse.
“Jesse,” Banks whispered groggily. “Do me a favor. Kick some Hawks butt.”
Jesse smiled. He had been wrong about Banks. This kid was a Duck after all.
“You bet I will,” he promised. “Cake-eater.”
Banks was smiling as the paramedics carried him off he ice.
McGill was assessed a two-minute penalty for roughing. Reilly didn’t care. The Ducks had lost their star player. As long as Banks was out of the game, the Ducks didn’t stand a chance.
Reilly discreetly threw McGill the A-OK sign as the boy stepped into the penalty box. Reilly was startled to see Gordon standing in front of him.
“You got something to say?” Asked Reilly.
“To think I wasted all those years worrying about what you thought,” Gordon explained. He sadly shook his head. “You’re going down Reilly.”
“Let me go after ‘em Coach,” said Fulton as Gordon came back to the bench.
“No,” replied Gordon. He pulled the team into a huddle. “Look it’s time to play smart hockey. Ducks hockey. All right? We got the power play. Let’s hit ‘em where it hurts. He pointed to the scoreboard. “Up there.”
The Ducks cheered in agreement.
“Fulton you’re in,” he said.
“Coach,” said Averman, “They’ll be watching him.”
“Right,” agreed Gordon smiling. “Jesse make sure you give Fulton plenty of time. Let’s go!’
The Ducks cheered and skated onto the ice.
“Wait!” Gordon called out as if he’d forgotten some crucial bit of strategy. “Have fun out there!”
The teams lined up for the face-off. The ref dropped the puck. The Hawks controlled it and set up a play. Jesse alertly lunged between two Hawks players, checking them both at the same time.
This was the break the Ducks needed. Averman swooped in, stole the puck, and passed it cross-ice to Fulton.
Fulton wound up and let one fly.
A huge cheer went up from the stands as the puck rattled into the top of the net.
“More fun! More fun!” Shouted Gordon as Fulton and the others skated off the ice.
Coach Reilly scowled at his players.
“Ladies they don’t need our help out there,” he yelled angrily. “Now I want that Fulton Reed covered. You blow this game and none of you makes the team next year, got it?”
The Hawks suddenly were finding it difficult to get any momentum. They were up by only one.
McGill guided the puck against the ice. But his manoeuvres seemed tentative. It was as if he was losing confidence.
Jesse swooped down on him and stick-checked him. McGill went down as the puck squirted free.
A Hawks defender grabbed it and skated down the open ice. He wound up for a slap shot and scored. The second period ended. The Hawks were up by two goals.
“We’ve got to stay fired up,” Gordon told his team. “It ain’t over till it’s over. Tammy, Tommy, let’s show these Hawks something really different.”
Gordon pulled out his notebook and diagrammed a special play.
The third period began.
The Hawks grabbed the puck, but then Tammy began a figure skater’s twirling move in front of the Hawks goalie. She twirled slowly at first, then faster. The Hawks momentarily took their eyes off the puck.
Tommy swooped in on the puck and passed it to Tammy. Tammy stopped twirling and slammed the puck into the goal.
The crowd roared. Now the Hawks were up by only one goal, but time was running out.
“Jesse! Guy! Terry!” Gordon called out. “I want you all to remember what we’ve learned. Ducks stick together right? Let’s see it. Show me the Flying V!”
Jesse, Guy, and Terry leapt over the boards and skated to their positions on the ice. As soon as the puck was dropped, Jesse stole it.
Instead of making a play toward the Hawks goal, Jesse turned back toward his own.
The crowd was confused, as were the Hawks.
Jesse skated behind his own goal, where he joined up with Guy, Terry, Averman, and Karp. The five Ducks exploded from behind the net in a V formation.
The crowd’s surprise turned into cheers.
“Go, Jesse, go!” Shouted Mr. Hall from the stands.
Jesse was at the tip of t he V. The five Ducks pushed up the ice, forcing the Hawks players backward into their own zone. A Hawks defender tried to push Jesse back, but Jesse faked him out with a triple deke.
Closing in on the goal, Jesse let go with a nasty wrist shot that slammed into the back of the net.
The Ducks fans leapt into the air and cheered. “Quack!” They chanted. “Quack! Quack! Quack!”
“Yes!” Shouted Mr. Hall from the stands. “Yes! Yes!”
Coach Reilly lowered his head disgustedly.
The Hawks and Ducks were tied.
There was still twenty-four seconds left in regulation.
Charlie, Connie, and Peter came in as replacements.
Peter managed to control the puck off the face-off but was quickly checked be a Hawks defender. The Hawks player stole the puck and carried it past the blue line and into the Ducks zone. All that stood between him and the goal was Goldberg.
The Hawks player wristed a shot on goal, but Goldberg dropped to his knees and made a great save! He then pushed the puck to Peter. Peter raced to his left and sent the puck past center ice to Charlie.
Charlie zoomed in on the goal as Larson closed in from behind. Charlie crossed the blue line, raced in, and readied his shot. Just as the buzzer sounded, Larson hooked Charlie with his stick, and Charlie sprawled onto the ice. The puck rolled wide of the goal.
“Penalty shot for the Ducks!” Said the ref. He skated over to Gordon. “Anybody on the ice can take it Coach.”
“Let Guy take the shot.” Said Charlie.
“No,” said Guy. “I think Jesse should take it.”
“Jesse wasn’t on the ice,” Karp said to Guy. “It’s either you, Connie, or Peter.”
“What about Charlie?” Suggested Gordon.
“You gotta be kidding!” Exclaimed Connie.
“No way!” Said Karp.
Even Charlie knew that was ridiculous.
Chapter 21: Penalty Shot ‘93
“What about Charlie?” Gordon asked again.
It was as if nothing seemed that ridiculous anymore. After all, six weeks ago they were the world’s most incompetent hockey team. And today? They were playing for the state championship. What the heck? Their expressions seemed to say. Let Charlie take the shot!
Gordon pulled Charlie off to one side. “You been practicing your triple dekes?” He asked.
“Then you’re all set,” said Gordon. “You may make it. You may not. But Charlie look around. We’re here. We’re in the championship. Who ever thought we’d do that? Remember every second of it, every sound. One…two…three…triple deke. Take your best shot.” He put his hand on the boy’s shoulder. “I believe in you Charlie. Win or lose.”
“All right Charlie!” Said Peter.
“You’re our man!” Shouted Jesse.
“Let’s go!” Yelled Connie
Charlie smiled. “Thanks coach.”
Charlie skated out to the red line. The ice was empty except for the ref and the Hawks goalie.
“Char-lie! Char-lie! Char-lie! Char-lie!” Chanted the Ducks.
Charlie skated in a circle around the puck before coming to a full stop. He stared down the ice at the goalie, who had dropped into his crouch.
The ref threw a hand signal to Charlie. The countdown had begun. Charlie took a deep breath, then exhaled slowly. It was now or never as the ref signalled him to start.
Charlie made another circle around the puck, built up some speed, then charged at it.
The puck wobbled unsteadily against his stick.
Twenty feet from the goal, Charlie faked to his left. The goalie shifted a step.
Fake right, Charlie told himself, back to my forehand. Just like I practiced it. The Hawks goalie committed to his left.
Charlie shot the puck. The goalie dove throwing his body in front of the puck. Charlie sucked in his breath.
The crowd roared!
The game was over. Charlie couldn’t believe it. He had done it!
Ducks 5, Hawks 4.
The Ducks had won the state championship!
Several weeks later Gordon stood at the bus stop holding a bag filled with brand new hockey gear. Instead of sending resumes to other Minnesota law firms, Gordon had decided to accept an invitation from an old friend to try out with a minor league club.
The Ducks had all turned out to see him off.
“Don’t take any bad dives,” Peter told Gordon.
“Just remember,” added Jesse. “Keep your head up.”
“Yeah, cake-eater,” teased Banks.
“Remember,” said Fulton, “Concentration not strength.”
“And for crying out loud,” said Averman, “soft hands.”
Gordon smiled and shook his head. “Anything else?” He asked.
“Yeah,” Charlie said. “Have fun out there.”
Then Charlie reached up and gave Gordon a hug.
“I must be crazy,” Gordon told Casey as she hugged him next. “A tryout in the minors. I’ll be up against kids half my age.”
“Just have a good tryout,” said Casey. “One step at a time.”
“You’re right,” Gordon agreed.
Gordon kissed Casey. The Ducks whooped and let out a chorus of razzes.
The bus pulled up and swung open its doors. Gordon climbed up the steps and the doors whooshed closed.
Suddenly the doors swung open and Gordon popped out his head.
“No matter what,” he reminded them, “I’ll be back for next season. We’ve got a title to defend!”
The Ducks cheered and waved as the doors closed and the bus pulled away.
And they continued to cheer-even as the bus headed out of the city toward the open road.