Emilio Estevez not returning for The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers season 2 due to vaccine requirement

Emilio Estevez not returning for The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers season 2 due to vaccine requirement

The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers needs a new hockey coach.

Emilio Estevez, who starred as Coach Gordon Bombay in all three The Mighty Ducks films in the '90s and reprised the beloved character in Disney+'s revival series, will not be returning for season 2.

According to a Deadline report published Friday, after weeks of negotiations between Disney Television Studios' ABC Signature (which produces the series) and Estevez's team over the show's COVID vaccination requirement, the studio decided not to bring Estevez back for season 2. The actor — who also served as executive producer on the show — reportedly would not confirm whether he would comply with the vaccine mandate, so the studio moved on.

The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers

Liane Hentscher/ABC Emilio Estevez in 'The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers'

While the first season was filmed partially during the pandemic, the vaccination requirement is new for season 2. Everyone designated as Zone A — a.k.a. the cast and any crew who comes into direct contact with them — are all required to be vaccinated, as stated in the most recent Return-to-Work agreement between Hollywood studios and unions.

The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers season 2 scripts will now be written without Gordon Bombay. What that means for the hockey team the Don't Bothers remains to be seen as he was one of two coaches, alongside Lauren Graham's Alex Morrow. But the biggest story change will be losing the dynamic between the two coaches, as the season 1 finale hinted at a major romantic future for the two characters. And hey, now that there's an open coaching position, will Joshua Jackson finally make his long-awaited return to the franchise as Charlie Conway? Ducks fly together, after all.

Representatives for Disney+ declined to comment.

On Monday, Estevez publicly addressed his exit from the series and said he is "not anti-vaxx." In a statement provided to EW, he cited "a good old fashioned contract dispute" and "a myriad of creative differences" as reasons for his departure. Estevez also said he had long COVID in the summer and fall of 2020. He did not address whether he has been or planned to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

"To my 'Ducks' cast and crew - have a wonderful Season 2 on the show and please know that I will miss you all," the actor said in the statement. "It was an honor and a thrill to be able to return as the iconic and beloved character, Gordon Bombay, a character which has been a celebrated benchmark in my 40 year career. And I thank the studio and the producers for creating an opportunity to allow me to visit him again."

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