Action and/or Adventure, Classics

Tom Wopat in: Die Hard

as: John McClane

Since its release nearly 28 years ago, Die Hard has become one of the landmarks of the action-adventure genre. It has become the standard by which all other “lone hero against impossible odds” movies are judged—to this day, action flicks are often pitched as “Die Hard on a ______”. (For example: Speed is “Die Hard on a bus”.)

Though the four sequels (so far) have been of decreasing quality–#2, Die Harder, was pretty dang good, actually—the original Die Hard is nothing short of a masterpiece of action filmmaking. Bruce Willis, previously known almost exclusively for his role in TV’s Moonlighting, turned the part of NYPD officer John McClane into a career-defining role.

Lego Die Hard

However, due to some complicated Hollywood contract structures, 20th Century Fox, the studio behind the flick, was legally obligated to offer the role to Frank Sinatra first. Sinatra passed, and the role was offered to Arnold Schwarzenegger, with the idea of turning the script into a sequel to Commando. Arnie passed, too, as did Sylvester Stallone, Harrison Ford, Burt Reynolds, and a number of other action stars of the era. Finally, Bruce Willis was cast and an action hero was born.

Why Not Wopat?

Released in the summer of 1988, Die Hard came shortly after the end of The Dukes of Hazzard. Tom Wopat would still have been fresh in viewers’ minds from his role on the show, but it would also likely have been far enough removed that he wouldn’t automatically be seen as Luke Duke. He was an established TV star, while Willis was just starting to garner widespread attention.

One of the chief knocks on Bruce Willis at the time of his casting was that he wasn’t a known “action star.” If anything, this made Wopat more suited to the role than Willis at the time, as Dukes had a good bit of action and stunt work in it. (Willis apparently did most of his own stunts in Die Hard, so that’s pretty cool.)

Wopat is four years older than Willis, an age difference that is essentially nil in Hollywood (at least for male stars), both have dark brown hair (Willis used to have hair, anyway), and the two are the same height. Physically, at least, the two are pretty much interchangeable.

However, if it’s actual acting skill you’re after, Wopat is clearly the guy for the job. Nothing against ol’ Bruno, but Tom Wopat has more dramatic chops in his little finger than Willis has in his entire torso, head, and face. Another part of what set Die Hard apart from other ’80s action flicks was its sense of humor, and for my money, Wopat is a better comedic actor than Willis, too. McClane’s back-and-forth with Carl Winslow down in the Nakatomi Plaza guard shack could’ve been even bigger and better.

Yipee-ki-yay, Tom Wopat!

Photo credit: Profound Whatever via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Classics, Drama, Sports

Tom Wopat in: Rocky

as: Rocky Balboa

*audible gasps all around*
“Are you outta your mind?”
*someone throws an empty beer bottle*
“Blaspheme!”

Alright, alright, I know this one is pretty crazy. Who could be more Rocky that Sly Stallone? He wrote the derned screenplay, for crying out loud, and this movie is basically the only reason he has a career to this day. Stallone as Rocky in Rocky is about as iconic an acting role as you’ll ever see.

But, seriously, think about it. Despite receiving a 1977 Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for the role, and another earlier this year for his victory lap as an aging Rocky in Creed, Stallone is far from a great actor. Originally, the producers wanted someone else to play the part anyway, an established star like Burt Reynolds or Robert Redford or James Caan. And while all those chaps are fine actors, I think we can all agree that Rocky would’ve sucked with any of them as the star.

rocky

But you know who would’ve been great as Rocky Balboa? Tom Wopat.

Key Changes

For starters, Wopat is five years younger than Stallone. In the context of the movie, this would’ve made a huge difference, in my opinion. Stallone was thirty when the film was released, and it therefore stands to reason that so was his character. If you know anything about sports, you know that most athletes’ talents and/or skills start to decline right around that age. This seems like it would be especially true for an amateur boxer—professional pugilists may be able to stay in prime shape well past the big 3-0, but those guys have the trainers, doctors, nutritionists, and money required to stay that way. But a poor dead-end schmoe like Rocky, who works as a loan shark to pay his bills, wouldn’t’ve had those assets in his corner. After who knows how many bouts and bludgeonings, it’s doubtful that a 30-year-old nobody would’ve been in good enough shape, or had the skills, to hold his own against World Heavyweight Champion Apollo Creed. A tough, 25-year-old cat, though, one who’s taken far fewer lumps from both opposing boxers and life in general? Seems like he would’ve stood a much better chance.

Second, Sylvester Stallone stands 5-foot-9, Tom Wopat is an even 6-feet, and Carl Weathers (Creed) is 6-foot-1. Being taller, and having a more comparable reach, would’ve made the climactic bout much more realistic. A four-inch arm-length deficit can be huge in the boxing ring.

Finally, though we’ve mentioned before that Wopat could probably pass for Italian, it’s possible the filmmakers would’ve simply avoided the issue by changing Rocky’s heritage and last name. Wopat, being of Czech descent, potentially could have played Rocky Belinsky, Rocky Kochevar, or Rocky Dubin. Though none of them have quite the ring that “Rocky Balboa” does, that last one’s pretty dang good, if you ask me.

Photo credit: RoGeRroro via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Classics, Comedy

Tom Wopat in: Super Troopers

as: Captain John O’Hagen

Though the flick was not a huge success at the box office, Super Troopers went on to slowly but steadily become a breakout hit on DVD, ultimately securing its place in the cult classic hall of fame. Thanks to a recent, highly successful Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, the writers and actors of the Broken Lizard gang are currently working on a sequel far too long in the making.

Speaking of Broken Lizard: those five guys are all absolutely, 100 percent irreplaceable in this movie. Though Brian Cox gives a great performance as Capt. O’Hagen, we have to shoehorn Tom Wopat in here somewhere, and there aren’t any other major characters, so Cox will have to go. Sorry.

Broken Lizard

L-R: Paul Broken Lizard, Erik Broken Lizard, Steve Broken Lizard, Jay Broken Lizard, Kevin Broken Lizard

Key Changes

I know we mention the ages of and/or age difference between the actor in question and Wopat a lot in these write-ups, but stay with me on this one. Though he seems much older, and did even when Super Troopers was first released 14 years ago, Brian Cox is only five years older than Tom Wopat. Wopat would’ve been 48-49 when the movie was made, so the O’Hagen character could’ve been rewritten to play a bit younger.

Instead of the gruff, father figure-type that the character was originally, we envision Wopat’s Capt. O’Hagen as more of an older brother to the state troopers under his command. Not necessarily a “cool” older brother; maybe more like a “thinks he’s cool” older brother.

Instead of bemoaning the troopers’ shenanigans, Wopat O’Hagen would join in every chance he got, though he would more often than not offer unintentionally-terrible contributions.

Representative Scene

In a movie full memorable scenes, one of the more memorable is the “maple syrup chugging scene.” The troopers are at a diner enjoying breakfast when, for whatever reason, a challenge breaks out to see who can down an entire bottle of syrup—an entire bottle!—the fastest. Originally, the Captain was not present at the syrup chugging contest. In our version, Wopat O’Hagen initiates it.

“Come on, boys,” O’Hagen says, distributing full syrup bottles to his charges. “Winner gets Monday off.”

After a quick “ready set go,” the six Vermont State Troopers upend their bottles and start chugging the sticky, viscous goo. O’Hagen pulls ahead to an early lead. He raises a fist in pre-triumph, then immediately starts to choke on the syrup. He struggles through a few more pulls, but ultimately loses it and has to drop his bottle. Sputtering and coughing violently, he sprays the other troopers with regurgitated syrup.

Only two of his comrades are able to continue, the others being too grossed out to carry on. “What the hell, Cap?” Farva (Kevin Heffernan) bellows, wiping syrup out of his eyes. “I had that one.”

“Yeah right, Farva,” O’Hagen replies with a laugh, flicking syrup off his fingertips in Farva’s direction. “Ramathorn always wins. Come on, man!”

As in the original version, and as Wopat O’Hagen predicted, Ramathorn (Jay Chandrasekhar) does win.

Photo credit: eytonz via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Classics, Comedy, Musicals

Tom Wopat in: Wayne’s World (the Movie)

In the first installment of the Wayne’s World trilogy, Benjamin Kane is the closest thing to a villain that Wayne (Mike Myers) and Garth (Dana Carvey) encounter. He attempts to cash in on the success of the “Wayne’s World” show-within-the-movie and turn it into a forum for cheap sponsorship for his advertising clients. In the end, “Bunjamin” gets his comeuppance, Wayne gets the girl, and “Wayne’s World” is restored to its original, low budget but well-loved format.

Originally, the would-be TV producer and all around jerk is played with a nigh perfect balance of sleaze and charm by Rob Lowe. But we propose that with Tom Wopat as Kane, an even better, truly perfect balance would have been struck, and Wayne’s World would’ve been all the better for it.

mirth mobile

“To the Mirth Mobile!”

Key Changes

One thing to note is that Tom Wopat is about a dozen years older than Rob Lowe. However, when the film was released in 1992, Wopat was only 41, so it’s not really an issue. It’s never really specified how old Kane is supposed to be, and Hollywood plays young all the time (every movie or TV series set in high school features at least one actor in his or her 30s playing a teenager, it seems).

Over the course of Wayne’s World, it is made rather obvious that Benjamin Kane owes a good portion of his success to his good looks. And, there’s no doubt that Lowe is a handsome fellow. But put him and Tom Wopat side by side, and they look like they could be brothers—Wopat being the better looking one. If anything, with Wopat in the role, there would’ve been even more room for “skating by on his looks” gags.

With Wopat’s real-life guitar playing experience, the writers could’ve added a scene where Benjamin and Wayne square off in a friendly “guitar duel.” Wayne, the would-be metalhead and guitar hero, would bust out a monster solo, contorting his face into all manner of goofy “solo faces” and finishing with the “out of breath” physical comedy bit that Myers does so well. Kane/Wopat would then pick up Wayne’s guitar and, casually and easily, knock out a killer guitar line that puts Wayne’s playing to shame, all with Wopat’s face and hands in frame the whole time. Kane doesn’t break a sweat, and Wayne is completely befuddled.

And finally, with Wopat’s Dukes of Hazzard past and Wayne’s World’s fondness for spoofing pop culture, one of the movie’s “fake endings” could’ve included a chase scene in which Wayne and Garth, in their AMC Pacer (the “Mirth Mobile”), escape Kane and his suspiciously familiar orange 1969 Dodge Charger. Turning the Dukes’ convention on its ear, the Mirth Mobile would’ve been the car to make the climactic, slow-motion jump to safety, while the General Lee careens off the road and into the river.

Photo credit: GmanViz via RemodelHackers / CC BY-NC-ND

Classics, Comedy, Musicals, Science Fiction and/or Fantasy

Tom Wopat in: Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure

as: Rufus

1988’s Bill & Ted Excellent Adventure is one hell of a weird movie: two high school metalheads are given a time-traveling phone booth to help them pass a history test—if they fail, the future of civilization will be in serious jeopardy. If that sounds like a pretty dumb premise, that’s because it is. It’s also hilarious and brilliantly executed and acted (with Keanu Reeves basically playing what is now the public’s perception of his IRL persona). It also features an ingenious—and paradox free!—time-travel workaround by the heroes that ultimately saves the day.

The San Francisco Giants know what's up.

The San Francisco Giants know what’s up.

In the film, the late, great George Carlin plays Rufus, a somewhat mysterious mentor from the future who was sent back in time to set Bill S. Preston, Esquire, and Ted “Theodore” Logan off on their excellent adventure. Reportedly, the producers were originally considering “serious” actors for the role, such as Sean Connery, until someone jokingly suggested Carlin. The legendary comedian was offered the part, accepted, and the rest is history.

But what if Carlin had turned them down? What if, instead, they chose Tom Wopat, the greatest actor of this or any time period?

Key Changes

Though Tom Wopat has worked on sitcoms—The Dukes of Hazzard was a pretty funny show sometimes, too—he can’t compete with George Carlin in the humor department. As such, the Rufus character would likely have leaned more toward the serious tone the writers originally intended. Wopat’s got dramatic chops for days. (Though, in a movie where Napoleon Bonaparte goes to a modern SoCal waterslide park, how “serious” could it have been?)

Another potential change could’ve made the film’s emphasis on the importance of music in the future more pronounced. In Excellent Adventure’s denouement, Rufus presents Bill and Ted with shiny new guitars. Before handing them over, though, he shreds a blistering solo on one of the guitars. In the film, the guitar solo-ing hands are not Carlin’s, but rather those of Stevie Salas, an accomplished studio musician and film score composer (who, not coincidentally, wrote the score for this movie). Wopat can sling a mean ax in his own right, and therefore could likely have performed the solo himself in a single shot. The added authenticity would’ve gone a long way, in our opinion, and added to the mystique of the future seen briefly in the film. Why is Rufus, ostensibly just a messenger, so good on guitar? Is everyone in the future an excellent musician? Just how does one “be excellent” to another?

Our third picked nit is strictly aesthetic. In Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, George Carlin appears essentially as he always did in the late 1980s (except for the costumes). He wears his same usual beard and keeps his long hair in a ponytail. There’s nothing wrong with this look, of course, and it certainly served Carlin well for a number of years. However, in that briefly-glimpsed future mentioned above, all the other actors are sporting futuristic, yet distinctly ‘80s, hairdos (or are they distinctly ‘80s, yet futuristic, hairdos?) along with their sparkly costumes. Tom Wopat, with his glorious flowing mane, could’ve been given one of the greatest future-’80s/’80s-future hairstyles in motion picture history. And so, great opportunity was lost…

Photo credit: E Steuer via StoolsFair / CC BY

Classics, Comedy, Science Fiction and/or Fantasy

Tom Wopat in: Ghostbusters

as: Louis Tully

It was difficult deciding which character in Ghostbusters would benefit the most from Wopatization. Bill Murray’s Peter Venkman is one of the most beloved and quotable comedy characters of all time, so we wouldn’t dare mess with that. Dan Aykroyd, the film’s Ray Stantz, can up with the idea and co-wrote the film, so he should definitely stay in the picture. The late, great Harold Ramis portrayed Egon Spengler, and as the movie’s other co-writer, he, too, must remain in the cast. Ernie Hudson is his uniformly excellent self as Winston Zeddemore, so we wouldn’t want leave him out, either.

It's no General Lee, but it'll do in a pinch.

It’s no General Lee, but it’ll do in a pinch.

The only logical choice, then, is to put Tom Wopat in the Louis Tully role. The part was originally intended for John Candy, and the character was first written as an uptight, suit-and-tie wearing business man. Candy ultimately passed on the film, and Rick Moranis stepped in, making the character more of a geeky nerd. (Or was he a nerdy geek?) Moranis does a fine job, but he’s no match for Tom Wopat.

Key Changes

With Tom Wopat as Louis Tully, the character would have to be changed yet again. Wopat’s too laid back to play an uptight suit, and too darned good looking to play a nerdy geek/geeky nerd. Instead, the Wopat Tully character would be more of a hippie Zen-master type. He’d still be an accountant, but instead being of all nebbishy and stereotypically “accountant-y”, he’d a chilled out guy who “finds peace” in calculating numbers.

Because Ghostbusters was released in 1984, when The Dukes of Hazzard was at its peak, the filmmakers would likely want to give Wopat a slightly bigger, more active role. Instead of just being a side character who kinda-sorta tags along on the Ghostbusters’ adventures, he’d use his mathematical skills to help them construct their equipment. We’re not sure how that would work, exactly, but the design stages of most complicated electromechanical equipment require a lot of math, so there you go. Someone else can work out the specifics. (We’re not professional screenwriters over here.)

Also, as Wopat is clearly a more athletic person in general than Moranis, we’d extend the chase scene during which Tully is hunted down by those big demon-dog-monster things. Instead of just a brief sprint through a park before getting run down, Wopat Tully would lead the beasts on a long, comical chase through the neighborhood. A hot dog cart would be exploded; a horse would get startled and bolt off into the night, dragging its hansom cab passengers with it; a busy restaurant kitchen would be barreled through; several windows would get shattered. All in all, it would be much funnier and more exciting.

Wopat would, of course, have reprise the role in Ghostbusters II. He clearly would not have made the cut for the recent remake, however, as he is a dude.

Photo credit: greenboxhouse via Remodel Blog / CC BY-NC-ND

Action and/or Adventure, Classics, Science Fiction and/or Fantasy

Tom Wopat in: The Empire Strikes Back

as: Han Solo

“Hey!” you say, “Didn’t you already do this one?” “No,” I reply, “you’re thinking of Tom Wopat in: Star Wars. Not the same thing at all.”

That being said, we don’t really need to get into the specifics of why Tom Wopat would make a rad Han Solo. Just read the other one if you’re interested in all that jazz. Instead, we’re going to take a closer look at two…

Representative Scenes

Representative Scene 1

First, the sequence where the Millennium Falcon flies into an asteroid field to evade the Empire. Han pilots the Falcon into a cave on “one of the big ones” and parks it there to hide out while he and Chewbacca the Wookiee make a few repairs to the ship. Eventually, he, Chewie, Leia, and C-3PO discover that, instead of a cave, they are in fact inside the gullet of a giant space worm. As they flee, barely escaping between the mighty beast’s rapidly closing jaws, Han Wopat would let out a Luke Duke-esque “Yeehaw!” The film would then freeze-frame, and Waylon Jennings’ narrator would chime in something like, “Them Duke boys better watch out. Sometimes the early worm gets the bird.”

Those’re literally the only changes we’d make there.

Representative Scene 2

Cloud City: The City in the Clouds

Cloud City: The City in the Clouds

Later, at Cloud City on Bespin, Han Wopat and the gang are greeted by Lando Calrissian, who promptly brings them before Darth Vader. Rather than opening fire with his trusty blaster, however, Han Wopat starts up a good old fashioned Dukes of Hazzard-style bar brawl. He grabs a pool cue from… somewhere and starts swinging, taking out Storm Troopers left and right.

Vader tries Force choking Han, but he scoops up a pool ball from… somewhere, again, and chucks it at the Sith Lord. It bonks Vader right in the chest, knocking his mechanical breathing apparatus out of whack and sending him to his knees in an asthmatic fit.

From there, Han and company flee on foot, with Lando and Lobot leading the way. As they go, they pass through one of several control stations for Cloud City’s tibanna gas mining operation. Imperial forces are gaining fast, so Han Wopat fires one of Luke Duke’s signature exploding arrows into a reactor. The explosion takes out the mine’s ESP, allowing the station to fill up with highly reactive, unfiltered gas. The Storm Troopers tailing them get lost in the billowing gas clouds, and our heroes make their escape.

The good guys pile into the Millennium Falcon and take off. Moments later, the runaway tibanna gas reaches critical mass and Cloud City explodes in a massive fireball. As the flaming wreckage tumbles to the surface of Bespin, thousands of miles below, Vader’s personal Tie Fighter is seen flying to safety. (A little too convenient, perhaps, but it’d be hard to have Return of the Jedi without Vader still in the game.)

Photo credit: Tom Simpson via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Action and/or Adventure, Classics

Tom Wopat in: Raiders of the Lost Ark

as: Indiana Jones

If you’re a regular visitor here, you may recall that we already wrote a piece about replacing Harrison Ford with Tom Wopat in Ford’s other iconic role. Rest assured, we have nothing against Harrison Ford, and we agree with most everyone that he is, in fact, a fine actor. (Or, at least he used to be all the time and now he is when he feels like it, which is, apparently, rarely.)

Anyway, the unifying factor here is not a dislike for Ford, but rather a preference for Tom Wopat at any and all times.

Key Changes

Truthfully, not a whole heck of a lot would’ve needed to change. The two actors are essentially the same height and build, and they have the same hair and eye color—they’re practically interchangeable to begin with. The only significant difference is that Wopat is nine years younger. So, basically, Indy got started on his big, significant adventures (unlike these B-squad escapades) right out of grad school.

But! Do not presume for one instant, dear reader, that because no changes would’ve been necessary in the recasting of Tom Wopat as Indiana Jones that the film would not have been a better one. Because it would have been, and you darned well know it.

Representative Scene: Opening Sequence

As it is one of the greatest in motion picture history, you surely know the setup to this one. So, we’ll skip ahead to the changes. After escaping the Peruvian temple with golden idol, narrowly avoiding being crushed by the giant, rolling boulder, Indiana Wopat is confronted by Belloq, a rival archeologist and all around fartknocker, who has brought with him a troop of native warriors so that he may steal the idol from Indy.

"It belongs in a museum!"

“It belongs in a museum!”

Rather than hand over the hard-fought artifact, Indiana Wopat springs into action. A swift, Luke Duke-ian spin kick knocks four of the natives’ blowdart guns askew, and their misfired darts strike four of their fellow warriors, knocking them unconscious with the darts’ poison. Indy coconuts two of the remaining natives’ heads together, Three Stooges-style, and takes out a third with a well-placed right hook.

The fourth and final warrior and Wopat engage in fisticuffs, and after a real slobberknocker, our hero emerges victorious. Belloq, coward that he is, has long since fled into the jungle. Indy starts walking calmly toward Jacques’ docked seaplane. Soon, Belloq and a larger contingent of native warriors emerge from the trees and give chase.

From there, the scene concludes as normal, with Indiana Wopat barely making it back to the plane, the snake in the seat, etc.

Photo credit: Eva Blue via Foter.com / CC BY

Classics, Drama, Television

Tom Wopat in: The Sopranos

as: Silvio Dante

When The Sopranos first started its run, James Gandolfini and Tom Wopat had roughly the same amount of quote-unquote star power, so it’s not unthinkable to imagine Wopat being cast in the lead role of the series. But, given how flat-out spectacular Gandolfini was as Tony Soprano, it’s clear that no other actor could’ve played the part as well.

Silvio Dante is another story, however. Don’t get me wrong, Steven Van Zandt was a revelation as Tony’s consigliere—who knew Bruce Springsteen’s lead guitarist could act?—but Tom Wopat could have, nay, would have been even better.

Key Changes

While nearly all the actors in major roles (and many minor ones) in The Sopranos really are of Italian heritage, Tom Wopat is not. This generally isn’t a big deal in Hollywood, where people professionally pretend to be people they’re not, but on a show that’s about the Mafia, and that does a very good job playing up the importance of the Mafia’s “rules,” it could’ve been a deal breaker. However, there is precedent for non-Italians holding important positions in the mob in fiction: Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall) in The Godfather was the Corleone family consigliere for many years, despite being 100 percent Irish.

He's a pinball stugots, there has to be a twist...

He’s a pinball stugots, there has to be a twist…

Though it wouldn’t be much of a stretch for Wopat to portray an Italian—he’s certainly got the hair for it!—it’s possible that the character would’ve been rewritten in more of a Tom Hagen mold. An “outsider,” if you will, that nevertheless is a trusted member of Tony’s crew. Perhaps he grew up in the same neighborhood as Tony and, after an initially contentious relationship that resulted in many a fisticuff, the two gained a grudging respect for one another that evolved into true friendship.

If that were the angle the writers took, the character would, of course, need to have a different, non-Italian name. Our suggestion: Jimmy “The Duke” Lucas. (See what we did there?) A good number of characters on The Sopranos are address by nicknames—Paulie Walnuts, Uncle Junior, Big P***y, Johnny Sack, even Silvio was often referred to as just “Sil”—so Wopat’s character could’ve been called both Jimmy and Duke in equal measure.

Apart from that, the character could’ve remained essentially the same. Tom Wopat could easily have brought the same balance of gravitas and humor to the Silvio (or Jimmy) role that Van Zandt did. He looks great in a suit (as Silvio was almost always dressed to the nines). We’ve seen him beat up goons on The Dukes of Hazzard, so him knocking the stuffing out of a guy with a Dust Buster would’ve been completely believable. And, while we don’t have anything to support this, Wopat probably smokes a mean cigar, too.

Photo credit: E Steuer via Foter.com / CC BY

Classics, Kids and/or Family, Sports

Tom Wopat in: The Mighty Ducks

as Hans the Hockey Guru

It may seem as though Tom Wopat is better suited, age- and acting style-wise, for the Gordon Bombay role in The Mighty Ducks. But Emilio Estevez owned that role so hard that it’s nigh impossible to imagine anyone else playing the part. I actually tried to write a “Wopat as Gordon Bombay” post, but I couldn’t get past the first sentence. Emilio Estevez is Gordon Bombay.

That said, Tom Wopat would make a valuable addition to the roster of stars in this family-friendly hockey classic. Joss Ackland is undeniably great as Hans, Gordon’s almost Yoda-like mentor on matters of hockey and the heart. But, Wopat could’ve turned the role into something truly unforgettable.

Key Changes

First off, instead of being a wise, older, family friend of Gordon’s, Hans Wopat would be a wise former peewee hockey teammate who went on to play in the NHL. Naturally, he played for the Minnesota North Stars, and after his career was over, he started building his sporting goods empire in the Minneapolis suburb of Eden Prairie (home of the District 5 peewee team that Gordon coaches).

GOOOOO Ducks!

GOOOOO Ducks!

Second, Hans Wopat would be a man of the times—he didn’t get to be the #1 hockey gear supplier in the State of Hockey by sticking to the old ways. In addition to offering skate sharpening at his shop, Hans Wopat would put himself head and shoulders above the competition by offering custom skate blade replacements. Using input from Gordon and team captain Charlie Conway and a wire EDM system, he would create a new style of blades that would help the Ducks skate faster and with greater agility and control. Hans’s “super skates” would be the Ducks’ secret weapon heading into the championship tournament.

Third, Hans Wopat would get in on the good time hockey shenanigans, taking a part-time role as an assistant coach. This would give Gordon somebody his own age to consult with during games, instead of just stupid whiny Charlie Conway. It would also allow the writers to add more adult—but still family-friendly—humor to the script.

Representative Scene

During a mid-season match against the Hawks, the Ducks’ hated rivals, Hawks coach Jack Reilly orders two of this team’s thugs to take out new Duck (and former Hawk) Adam Banks with a cheap shot. After the damage is done, Hans Wopat bolts from the Ducks’ bench and takes out Reilly with a spinning, Bo Duke-esque karate kick. Hans is then escorted from the hockey arena in handcuffs and is never seen nor heard from again. (As is the case in the real sequel—where the heck did Hans go?)

Photo credit: goaliej54 via Remodel / CC BY-SA