It looks like ducks will not be flying together when the popular Disney+ series The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers returns to Disney+. According to sources at Deadline, Disney has chosen not to renew the contract for Emilio Estevez, who played disgraced lawyer-turned-hockey-coach Gordon Bombay in the original movie trilogy and reprised his role for the series.
Per Nellie Andreeva at Deadline:
I hear Disney Television Studios’ ABC Signature, which produces the hockey-themed sequel series, made the decision not to pick up Estevez’s option for Season 2 after weeks of back and forth with his team over the show’s Covid vaccination requirement. Reps for the studio and Estevez declined comment.
Heading into Season 2, The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers — like many Disney TV Studios series — has adopted a mandatory vaccination policy for the cast and crew in Zone A, which was included as an option in the most recent Return-to-Work agreement between the Hollywood studios and major unions. (Zone A includes all actors and crew members who come into direct contact with them.)
According to sources, Estevez, through his reps, has declined to provide assurances that he would comply with the policy. With the two sides at an impasse as the Season 2 scripts were being written and the planned early 2022 start of production was looming, I hear the studio made the call to not exercise the actor’s option and the scripts will be adjusted to continue the story without the character.
Meanwhile, sources close to Estevez indicate that creative differences may have played a role in his exit.
While the original Mighty Ducks films featured a bunch of ragtag kids and their disgruntled coach who learn to work together to become one heck of a hockey team, The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers shows the Ducks becoming an absolute powerhouse and cutting players from the team that would have been embraced by the original players.
The series stars Lauren Graham as Alex Morrow, a woman whose son Evan was cut from the Ducks. Alex turns to Coach Bombay to help create a team much like the original Ducks, where kids who just want to play hockey can enjoy their time on the ice instead of the cut-throat teams that are taking over youth sports. Both Graham and Brady Noon — who plays her son — are slated to return for the show’s second season.