An interview with the voices behind the Quack Attack Podcast
Mike Florek, Tommy Magelssen and Kevin Cullen, three Dallas-based sportswriters, have produced over 130 episodes of the Quack Attack Podcast, discussing numerous topics pertaining to the Mighty Ducks series. They launched their enterprise in May 2014, and have discussed a wide variety of topics both in the movies and hypotheticals relating to them.
They have also enlisted a who’s who of guests connected to the films, from actors, to behind-the-scenes staff members, to the writer of the series. They have also developed quite the following over the years, a community they call “Quackolytes.”
Fans of the series from all over have been able to connect through this podcast. The Quack Attack Podcast is a key part of carrying on the Mighty Ducks legacy.
Pucks and Recreation spoke with Mike, Tommy and Kevin on the phone to discuss the podcast and the films. Below is a lightly edited transcript of the conversations. Special thanks to Eugene Helfrick for assisting with transcribing the interviews.
How did you originally come up with the idea to produce this podcast?
Mike: “So, I guess it started for me back in college. I worked for the school paper there, and we used to be working late nights, so we would just talk about random stuff, and we would talk about The Mighty Ducks a lot. That’s when I first got the idea.
“Then when I came to Dallas and met Tommy, we used to work late at night together, and we were the only two people on the floor, so we would just talk about random stuff. One time we started talking about Gordon Bombay and whether he had learned anything at all, and just sort of getting into the stupid debate.
“Then came back the next day, like, ‘Do you want to start a podcast?,’ and said, ‘Sure,’ and then our friend Kevin, who worked with us at the time, was just sort of coming down the hall at the same time and we were, like, ‘Do you want to be on our podcast?’ And he said, ‘Sure.’ So that’s how it started, and then I had to actually figure out how to make a podcast and put it online and all that kind of stuff.”
When did you first watch The Mighty Ducks?
Mike: “I don’t even remember the first time I actually saw it. It’s just sort of always been with me. I think having two older brothers and an older sister that all played hockey, it’s just sort of been around as long as I can remember.
“I grew up in Michigan, and hockey is bigger there than it is in some other places across the country. I didn’t realize all the unintentional comedy until I got older, but it started before I can really remember watching. I just sort of always knew about it. Anytime they’d come on TV at night, I would just stop and watch.”
Tommy: “Originally, like most people our age, we saw the movies in theaters as kids and just fell in love with them. Sports movies in the ’90s were a big thing for kids, like Mighty Ducks, Little Giants, Big Green, things like that.
“I remember having the first movie on VHS and as a kid you watched it all the time because you didn’t have a lot of cable so you watched the tapes. It was just a fun movie, and like a lot of people our age we look back fondly on these movies, even though they probably weren’t as great as you remember them.
“It was just a big part of the ’90s underdog movies, and they just remind you of being a kid, before things got complicated. This spurred my love for it and that has continued into adulthood.”
Kevin: “I don’t know if I will be able to come up with a specific date, but I do remember my earliest memory was a conscious memory of it.
“For some reason, I don’t know why, I remember D3 the most. I guess I was a little bit older around then, and whenever I watched it I just identified with it more. I definitely remember the other movies when I was younger. It coincides with the whole kind of generation of movies with heavyweights that kind of just lumped together in my mind.”
Which film is your favorite, and why?
Mike: “This has been a debate on the podcast. I think originally the standard order is D2, D1 then D3. But the more you watch it, the more you start to appreciate D3, but I guess I would keep it the same. D2 is just the most fun with Trinidad and Tobago and the Junior Goodwill games and all that kind of stuff, so I’ll take D2.”
Tommy: “I’ve always said D2 is my favorite just because of the whole Team USA thing. I think a lot of people will emphasize that. To me it has the us-against-the-world feel.
“Looking back, I think the plot of it is probably the most unrealistic, which may be why I like it the most. I think it has some good cameos in it, and they clearly were able to put more behind it after the success of the first movie. They made it a little more campy, which I like as well. The whole Iceland being the bad guys is kind of a strange country to have as the bad guy as well. It is just the most fun of the three, which I really enjoy.”
Kevin: “I definitely think it’s D3, and I’ve said this on the podcast that I’m pretty much in the minority. But that’s where I like to be. I don’t know why, and it’s probably not the best film, but it’s still my favorite.
“I think it goes back to identifying with it, I guess, whenever I did watch it. It’s funny, because I think a lot of people had this same recollection of it. As adults, whenever they recalled the movie they picture it as them in college, which I think I did, too, but I guess I had never been exposed to prep school like that. But I kind of have this distorted memory of that in my head.
“I really loved D3. I loved the humor. I still use the ‘shrinking sphincter’ joke anytime anybody asks me what somebody says. I probably say it a little bit too much. But that’s okay with me. But I just like the humor and the dynamics of the movie.”
How about your favorite character?
Mike: “When I was younger, I was drawn to (Charlie) Conway since he was the captain and that kind of stuff. Now, I don’t know. I think Karp is very underrated in terms of he’s obviously not a main character or anything, but when he’s on the screen he really performs well.”
Tommy: “I always liked Averman. He was always the nerdy comic relief, which I can definitely relate to a little bit. He was the funny character and I really liked that none of the characters were the typical jock stereotypes, besides maybe (Adam) Banks. I think they were relatable for kids, even if you weren’t a great athlete or good at hockey.”
Kevin: “Hmm, favorite character? That’s tough. I don’t even know if we’ve had this conversation on the pod before. Let’s see. My favorite character growing up was probably Fulton. And he’s probably the leader in the clubhouse to be my favorite overall.
“I like Russ (Tyler) too because he is kind of just funny and out there. But I’ll probably go with Fulton. He is the quiet and steady leader, and he is the constant for everybody, but I really like Russ too. Such a knucklehead.”
If you could change one thing from either of the original films, what would it be and why?
Mike: “So, we had Steve Brill on, the creator in Episode 64 I think, something like that. He said that the original script had the Mighty Ducks losing, so Charlie misses the penalty shot at the end in D1. I kind of like that idea. I would love to see the trajectory after that happened. So, yeah, Charlie misses the penalty shot, everyone hates him and they learn how to get along and it wasn’t about the championship at all.”
Tommy: “I remember the first time I saw D3 I was really disappointed that there wasn’t more hockey in it. There was really only two games, the game against the Blake Bears and the JV-Varsity showdown. So I would have liked to seen more hockey. And more Bombay, of course.
“If you make those changes, it changes everything else, of course. So who knows how much we would have liked the movies if there was that change.”
Kevin: “Hmm, probably I would, and I think this is because of some of the sports movies that have come along since, I might have had them lose some more. You know, lose in the championship game. I think it adds another layer to the whole experience if they did face some actual adversity in the series.
Sure, they lose to Iceland in D2 (in their first matchup), but that’s more faux adversity. I think that would have added another wrinkle to it. It would be fun to see this with a darker twist, more in the style of a Friday Night Lights as opposed to a goofy Disney cheery kind of stuff that was common in that era.”
You’ve had a number of noteworthy guests on your show that had many different roles throughout the films. Who was the most memorable and why?
Mike: “It probably has to be Brill, because we only expected to talk to him for, like, half an hour, maybe even less than that. We went over an hour with him, broke it up into two (episodes).
“He definitely understood where we were coming from with all these hypotheticals and stuff like that. It was to hear from him about what happened to the rest of the Ducks afterwards and all that kind of stuff.
“I would say Brill. We’ve had a lot of good ones, but that probably sticks out the most.”
Tommy: “My favorite was Steve Brill. He just really told us everything we wanted to know. It’s interesting, Mike and I have a journalism background, so sometimes when you’re talking to celebrities or famous people they can be guarded and are just giving you the PR answer.
“Steve was incredibly honest with us. He’s made it in Hollywood, so he may have been able to say things to us now that 20 years ago he might not have been able to say when he was still trying to make it. You could tell that since he created all these characters that he was super-invested in them. It’s not like he created them and forgot about them. He was giving us his theories on where the characters are now and it’s not like he was teasing. He seemed genuinely interested in discussing these characters that he came up with.
“To me, it showed that these characters were more than him trying to make a couple bucks on a kids’ movie. He was interested in truly developing The Mighty Ducks and enjoyed talking about them.”
Kevin: “Well, Steve Brill was great because he just went on a tangent similar to what we would go on about the where are they now for the characters.
“My favorite, while tough, I think is Melissa Keller who played Mindy in D3. She was a former swimsuit model, so she gave me some modeling tips, so that was awesome (laughs). She was a fun guest to have on. She got to talk about how she got into things like the modeling and how D3 helped springboard her career.
“We’ve had some really great guests, though. (Hockey technical advisor) Jack White is always awesome, of course. But I will always remember the modeling tips from Keller.”
You guys put out a couple episodes talking about a potential D4, we wrote an article to kick off this series about that. Can you give a quick summary of they key plot elements you proposed?
Mike: “We did a whole episode on this. The basic idea is you open with Charlie Conway, and he’s sort of living a normal life. We figure out that he sort of flamed out in juniors, and he sort of just has some unfinished business and is upset about it.
“Hans’s shop is closing down, so he goes to Hans’s place to shop, and sort of talks to whoever the descendant of Hans is that is running the shop and sort of talks about one last go round for the shop and the Ducks. It segways into a whole deal with the World Pond Hockey Championships, which are a real thing, but we would obviously take some liberties with it there. So basically the Ducks have one last go-rround in the World Pond Hockey Championships.”
Tommy: “I think I’d like to see where all the characters are now. Sometimes when they do reboots it can be overwhelming when they try to get all the characters back in.
“I think people do want to see that, though. Like when they brought back Fuller House, it was showing off all of these characters that you miss in a ‘Isn’t this nice?’ way. It can be cheesy, but at the same time I want to see where everyone is at.
“It would have to be around a hockey tournament, whether it is Charlie coaching the tournament or they are getting the Ducks together to plan a charity event, essentially combining the elements of Mighty Ducks and Dodgeball to make it fun. Really allow it to be a ‘Where are they now?’ movie.”
Kevin: “I think it would make a lot of sense for it to be their kids’ story. That would be the easy route to go. But I would like to see how they turned out and how that links back to the Ducks.
And, again, I would prefer kind of a darker spin on it. I think that would be interesting to take those comical movies and take a dark spin on it compared to where they where. I think that would be a lot of fun. It would make sense for Charlie to be coaching and for him to have to deal with adversity along the lines of what Bombay had to deal with. That would make sense. You’d get a peak behind Adam Banks struggles in the pros, which would also be fun.”
Do you have any noteworthy Mighty Ducks apparel or memorabilia. If so, what is it?
Mike: “I have a replica Charlie Conway jersey, that’s a pretty good one. I have a Mighty Ducks shirt with the original skating Ducks logo. Those are probably two of the best.
“One of the guys we had on, Jack White, who was basically the technical advisor, he taught all the kids how to skate and stuff like that. He sent us some story boards that he had drawn originally for the film, so that stuff is kind of cool too. I probably don’t have as much as I should, though.”
Tommy: “No, not really. Mike is the go-to guy for that. It’s funny though. Sometimes we will be walking around the bars and we will see someone with a Conway shirt so we will run up to them and start talking about The Mighty Ducks. I should invest in some of the SWAG since we sell it in our store, though (laughing).
“Next time I go to a store and see something Mighty Ducks-related, I’d have to buy it.”
Kevin: “I really don’t. I’m sure Mike told you what Jack White sent us, and that’s one of my prized possessions now because that is just so cool. But I don’t think that I have anything off the top of my head. Mike is the nut among us, the driving force you could say.
“I’m not even that big of a hockey fan, honestly. I mean I know next to nothing about hockey. I grew up in the desert, and we never had ice there. I didn’t grow up watching the sport. I can’t say that I have any Ducks gear, but I wouldn’t be opposed to it either. It’s on my list, I guess. Some of our fans have some pretty crazy memorabilia, though.”
What’s your favorite underappreciated moment in any of the films?
Mike: “When Bombay first comes to the team and they are practicing on the pond and he asks for the goalie, Goldberg goes ‘Only for right now, I’m moving back to Philly.’ And Bombay goes ‘Thanks for sharing that,’ and Goldberg goes ‘No problem.’ I don’t know, the timing of it works. It’s just a little moment that I don’t think I noticed until the fourth or fifth time watching it, but it always cracks me up.”
Tommy: “I think one of my favorite moments was in D2 when all the Ducks are getting back together and three members of the Hawks are watching from afar and talking about how they should get back at the Ducks and they set up, like, a fishing line to do this little trick, then Fulton sneaks up on them and beats them up, and I guess he ends up pantsing them all and tying them up.
“Looking back at it, it’s a very weird scene nowadays. It’s incredibly funny to me looking back at it now and seeing the absurdity of it. Just this one guy pantsing these guys, tying them up and just leaving them there. It kind of showed that in these movies you aren’t looking for realism. You’re just looking for a fun moment to talk about.
“It’s a microcosm of the movies. A little bit absurd and unrealistic and the good guys winning while having a little bit of fun.”
Kevin: “That’s a good one. I don’t know if it’s underappreciated but I’m always going to call back to that ‘shrinking sphincter’ joke. It is just perfect comedic timing, and I think someone we had on recently used it in an organic sense, so it’s just a perfect answer whenever somebody asks you what somebody just said. It always throws them off.
“I don’t know if it’s underlooked, but I definitely think that is one of them. Another thing is the DUI. It’s just so interesting how that was just a part of the movie. Nowadays you just wouldn’t see that happen. It was a very of-its-time moment. It would be a much bigger deal if it happened now, which is interesting.”
Do you have a favorite episode that you have produced?
Mike: “That’s a good question. I think any with a guest was good, like Brill’s.
“In terms of like us ourselves, I think it’s Episode 11, where we talk about Hans and how there’s a whole backstory about Hans peddaling drugs and stuff like that. That one was fun because we didn’t have any idea where it was going and we just kind of stumbled on something there where it all sort of fit in with what we saw in the movies to kind of explain everything. That one sort of sticks out from the beginning.
“I’m sure there’s one that comes after, but that one sort of was the basis for how we formed our opinions now and how we go about the podcast now.”
Tommy: “An episode we did somewhere in the 20s that I really liked was on Don Tibbles. We kind of went off the deep end of him masterminding the Goodwill Games and what’s on the line for him. That episode shows how much fun the podcast is. It’s tongue-in-cheek and it’s supposed to be fun crazy fan theories.
“Another one I really like is where we talk about Iceland and why they were the bad guys in the second movie. We come up with theories about the Golden Age of Icelandic hockey and once that happened there was a national travesty and they gave it up and everyone went to play soccer, which is why they are good at that sport now.
“I think those two stand out to me because they showed the spirit of the podcast. We aren’t taking ourselves too seriously, but we are able to have a lot of fun with it.”
Kevin: “I really enjoy when we get to cross the walls. Like I really enjoyed when we did the Hunger Games episode and we did a couple other episodes where we put the Ducks in other universes if you will. Those are a lot of fun.
“It is interesting that no matter what, though, Julie the Cat always ends up winning the competition. She was quite the stud (laughing). I like when we go off the rails a little bit. Early in the podcast they would call me the ‘Wildcard’ because we used to record late due to our work schedules.
“We all work nights at the Dallas Morning News, so we would record at like two in the morning on Mondays, which was my off day. So I’d already be at the point where I had a pretty full day and I’d be off the rails to begin. That creates crazy tangents and spawns a bunch of other episodes for us. I always like having creative topics like that.”
Whats your favorite thing that’s come as a result of producing this podcast for so long?
Mike: “The biggest thing that’s impressed me is we sort of have a community that revolves around this podcast. People know each other and we know just random people we would have never met before that just sort of started listening to the podcast and started sending in questions and stuff like that.
“That’s been the most rewarding part. Having this whole community spring up around it to become friends with people that we never would have met otherwise.”
Tommy: “It’s a great icebreaker. People are always amazed that we have over 100 episodes. They are always saying, like, ‘What the hell are you guys talking about?’ Then they listen and find that it’s a fun tongue in check experience.
“I love meeting a random person and telling them about it and them saying that they love The Mighty Ducks too. Really we like to say that we talk about a lot more than just The Mighty Ducks. We talk about ’90s culture, which we think our followers enjoy.
“A lot of the people who like The Mighty Ducks also like the rest of the ’90s culture that comes along with it, like Nickelodeon, Big Green, the Chicago Bulls, and we like making the weird references. That’s the best part because, really, it’s just Kevin, Mike and I having a chat and reminiscing about the ’90s for 30 minutes.”
Kevin: “It’s just been so much fun watching the Quack Attack community grow, the Quackolytes. It’s so cool seeing all these fans from all corners of the world and to see how far the Mighty Ducks stretch.”
Why should fans of The Mighty Ducks, or even fans who aren’t fans of The Mighty Ducks listen to your podcast?
Mike: “The biggest thing for me is obviously we are not going to get super serious about anything. We are not going to say anything that’s going to upset you. It’s just fun, it’s going to play on your nostalgia. It’s definitely going to take you back to a time when you were a kid and had less worries and weren’t worrying about taxes and stuff like that. And it’s just fun to have a half-hour each week to revisit that time. And you get to hang out with us, we are pretty swell guys, so give it a shot.”
Tommy: “Well, the pitch to the fan of The Mighty Ducks, I’d say it’s got a lot of everything and it’s just good fun. You’ll remember how you felt during the ’90s and it’s a good way to kill 30 minutes and listen to people talk about the best parts of the ’90s.
“And for someone who hasn’t seen The Mighty Ducks, but maybe like general podcasts, I’d say listen to it and you’d be amazed at what people can talk about. We remind people of their friends just sitting around talking about nonsense and having a good time. For people who are looking for something that isn’t serious, that’s just a fun listen. Everyone should give it a listen, I think.”
Kevin: “They should listen because it is a really cool look behind the scenes at general filmmaking. When we started it, we didn’t expect it to become that at all. But some of the best guests are people who you wouldn’t know the name of. Like the costume director or the associate director of photography. It’s cool to get their stories and to see where they’ve gone after the Mighty Ducks phase of their lives.
“It’s also really cool to see where the actors are now and what they’re up to. In general, if you are a fan of anything ’90s, we mix in a lot of that. I know there are a lot of us who grew up in the ’90s so that’s one of our biggest selling points. That ’90s nostalgia. It lends to some crazy, stupid humor, which if you enjoy you will enjoy our podcast. And if not, you can tell us on Twitter and we will block you or something (laughing).”