Mighty Ducks & cartoon Gretzky, or why the NHL and superheroes don't mix

(Note: After spending the last few post discussing serious things like head injuries and concussions, the time seemed right to lighten the mood, don't you think?)

I've never been one to hide my geek background. I make Star Wars references on a hockey blog and I've paid a stupid amount of money to have my photo taken with Patrick Stewart, for Jebus' sake. (Hey, and that's a Simpsons reference.) I indulge in a lot of things that are considered nerdy or dorky, so I think that maybe it comes from a place of sincerity when I say that the NHL Guardian Project is probably the dumbest thing I've ever heard of. In fact, my reaction when I first saw the press release was very similar to Keith Tkachuk watching the Backstreet Boys sing the national anthem.

Seriously, folks. I have no idea who this is supposed to appeal to. Superheroes sponsored by NHL logos? Haven't we learned our lesson from previous attempts to mix superheroes and hockey? There are several things in life that should never, ever go together, such as a orange juice and toothpaste, Dick Cheney and shotguns, or Brian Engblom and hair clippers. Yes, superheroes and hockey fall into this mix.

Remember, those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it. Must I remind you about hockey's last two forays into this little bit of worlds colliding?

Let's start with the Mighty Ducks TV series. No, no, no. Not the semi-endearing Emilio Estevez movies. I'm talking about the animated series that featured hockey-loving cyber ducks fighting evil and, um...oh hell, I'll just copy and paste the Wikipedia plot summary.

In this series, in another universe exists a planet populated entirely by humanoid ducks. Dubbed "Puckworld" by its inhabitants, it is a very cold, icy planet, perfectly suited to the Ducks' favorite pastime, ice hockey. For the citizens of Puckworld, hockey was not simply a sport, but a way of life, occupying virtually every aspect of day-to-day existence, from fashion to philosophy.

A very popular legend has it that centuries ago, during an invasion by a reptilian race called Saurians, a duck by the name of Drake DuCaine became the planet's savior over the Saurians' Overlords. The legend tells that DuCaine did so with a seemingly normal goalie mask that transforms into a high-tech mask. With it, DuCaine sent the Saurians to a mysterious dimension, known only as "Dimensional Limbo".

As it turns out, the legends ended up being true. The last of the Saurians escape Dimensional Limbo and return to Puckworld with an armada of robotic attack ships. The group of four is led by the last of the Saurian Overlords, Lord Dragaunus. They invade the planet, enslaving the people of Puckworld so that they can produce more weapons to conquer the universe. However, a resistance was formed by Canard, a brave duck who found The Mask of Drake DuCaine in a tomb in the mountain called Twin Beaks. With it, the wearer of the Mask could see through the Saurians' invisibility cloak. Canard formed a band of Ducks to fight Dragaunus. The members of his team consists of Wildwing, Nosedive, Tanya, Duke, Mallory and Grin.

Yeah. When Wildwing isn't being set on fire before Anaheim Ducks games, he's busy leading duck crusaders to fight evil on planet Puckworld. But wait, it gets better. If you can follow that convoluted storyline so far, Disney took it one step further and  managed to tie the whole thing into reality. I'm sure this is the very reason why the Samueli family decided to purchase the team from Disney.

Dragaunus finds out that they're following him, attempts to get rid of the Ducks inside the portal by attacking them with an electromagnetic worm that will grow until it can swallow the Aerowing. In a desperate attempt to get rid of the worm, Canard sacrifices his own life by throwing himself to the worm. The plan succeeds, but at the price of Canard being devoured by the worm and never being seen again (except for in the episode "Take Me to your Leader", though this was Chameleon disguised as Canard to lure the ducks into a trap).

Luckily, Canard gave the Mask and the leadership of the team to Wildwing Flashblade, his best friend. Both the Raptor and the Aerowing leave the portal and enter a different dimension, landing on Earth. The Ducks meet Phil Pomfeather, a human who becomes their manager and makes them a legitimate NHL team. Their arena, only known as The Pond in the show, has a hockey rink that doubles as a landing pad for the Aerowing above and has a formal HQ below. On Earth, the Ducks and Dragaunus continue their fight, although there are other villains that also challenge the six Ducks.

The Ducks and Saurians that landed on Earth are the only ones seen except in some flashbacks done by Grin when speaking of his past and one Lucretia DeCoy who was a traitoress to the race of the Ducks and a spy for the Saurians.

That's right, folks. Somewhere within Honda Center is a special spaceship portal where humanoid ducks fight evil. If you ever really needed to see what this show was actually like, here's the opening credits.

Mighty Ducks The Animated Series Intro (via mdtas)

The show debuted in the fall of 1996, most likely as an effort by Disney to get children more interested in going to Ducks games at the then-Arrowhead Pond. Of course, they could have just spared themselves the effort and let things play out naturally, what with that whole Paul Kariya/Teemu Selanne combination about to ignite.

That's not enough to deter any sane person from creating a hockey superhero line? Ok, then let's go one step further back into Things You Can't Unsee and present Pro-Stars. You know, that show where Wayne Gretzky, Michael Jordan, and Bo Jackson fought crime. Pro Stars was so successful that it only ran between September and December of 1991. Here's what you missed out on:

Originally intended to air on ESPN, the show centers on Michael Jordan, Bo Jackson and Wayne Gretzky fighting crime and helping children, often protecting the environment as well. These three were chosen to represent the pinnacle of all four major American professional sports in the early 1990s. While Jordan and Gretzky are broadly associated with their respective sports, Jackson was included since he could represent both football and baseball and was a high-profile celebrity off the field as well. A reference to his "Bo Knows" Nike ad-campaign was worked into almost every episode.


Got 22 minutes to kill in your workday? Here's an entire episode of Pro Stars, with Wayne Gretzky providing tons of comic relief.

Pro Stars - 1x01 - Gargantus & The Highway Of Doom part 1 of 3 (via Toonaholic1)

Pro Stars - 1x01 - Gargantus & The Highway Of Doom part 2 of 3 (via Toonaholic1)

Pro Stars - 1x01 - Gargantus & The Highway Of Doom part 3 of 3 (via Toonaholic1)

(By the way, in the category of "That's strange", if you search for "Pro Stars Cartoon" on YouTube, you'll get an episode in Spanish and some sort of Indian softcore porn with the the exact "Pro Stars Cartoon" phrase inserted into its title. Some stuff just can't be explained. No word on who played Spanish Wayne Gretzky and if he did it with an Ontario accent.)

Ok, so now we've got exhibit A and exhibit B of why superheroes and hockey just don't work together. With all apologies to Stan Lee, can we stop this whole NHL Guardian Project now before it gets anymore embarressing and get back to important things, like the logjam in the Western Conference and the upcoming trade deadline?

And seriously, Stan Lee -- anyone who created Wolverine is a god among men, but even you had to think this was a ridiculous idea.

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