Emilio Estevez Not Returning For Mighty Ducks: Game Changers Season 2 Over Vaccine Requirement

Bad news, hockey fans — Gordon Bombay won't be back for season 2 of "The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers." According to Deadline, Emilio Estevez, who returned as the classic character from the 1990s "Mighty Ducks" movies in the sequel TV show, allegedly declined to follow COVID-19 vaccination policies and was removed from the second season of the Disney+ series as a result. 

Estevez Bows Out for Season 2

Deadline reports that Disney Television Studios' ABC Signature, which produces the series, decided not to renew Estevez's contract for the second season after weeks of back and forth with his team over the series' COVID-19 vaccination requirement. Representatives for both the studio and Estevez declined comment, so the exact details should be taken with a grain of salt. Deadline also notes that sources close to Estevez indicate that the issue was creative differences, not a disagreement about vaccinations. 

Many studios are adopting mandatory vaccination policies for cast and crew that work closely with one another, often unmasked, as they appear together on camera. "The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers" had a policy where vaccines were required for all cast and crew in Zone A, which includes all actors and those who come in direct contact with them. (The vaccination requirements are part of an option in the most recent Return-to-Work agreement between the studios and major unions like IATSE.) According to Deadline's sources, Estevez did not assure the studio that he would comply and get vaccinated. 

Scripts for the second season are in the works, so the studio had to make a decision before a planned production start in early 2022. With time against them and both sides unwilling to budge, the studio made the call to axe Estevez from the next season. 

What Does this Mean for the Ducks?

With Bombay gone, who will help the newly re-minted Mighty Ducks as they start facing off against other, more practiced teams? We know Lauren Graham's Alex has what's best for the team in her heart, but she doesn't exactly have the hockey know-how. 

There's a beautiful solution, if they can figure out shooting schedules. The character of Charlie Conway, played by Joshua Jackson, was the lead in the 90s films. The timing wasn't right when "Game Changers" had its reunion episode, but bringing back Charlie to take over the team in season 2 would be perfect. Series writer Steven Brill has even said he wants to bring Charlie back "in a real way" where we "get to spend time with him." Having Charlie take over the team in Bombay's absence would be a perfect way to pass on the torch, and solve their casting problems. Besides, Jackson is a big part of what made the original movies so great, and having him back could flesh out the new Ducks in a big way.