Josh Duhamel replacing Emilio Estevez on The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers as new head coach
Goodbye, Coach Gordon Bombay — say hello to Coach Gavin Cole.
Josh Duhamel is replacing Emilio Estevez as the adult male lead of The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers, EW has learned. Duhamel will star as new character Gavin Cole, a former-NHL-player-turned-coach who runs the intense summer hockey institute where the young athletes land in season 2. Described as "inspirational, charming, and hardcore," he's "big on the hockey metaphor that applies to life."
Duhamel will star opposite Lauren Graham's Alex Morrow, but there's no word yet on whether the fledgling romantic arc teased in season 1 for Alex and Gordon will now transfer to Gavin. Most recently seen in Netflix's Jupiter's Legacy, which was canceled after one season, Duhamel will next appear in NBC's The Thing About Pam opposite Renee Zellweger (March 8) and the Jennifer Lopez movie Shotgun Wedding (slated for June).
Back in November, it was revealed that Estevez — who starred as the beloved hockey coach in all three Mighty Ducks films in the '90s and reprised the character in the first season of the Disney+ revival series — would not be returning for season 2. 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. The actor, who also served as an executive producer on the show, reportedly would not confirm whether he would comply with the vaccine mandate.
Estevez publicly addressed his exit from the series by saying 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 had been or planned to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers is executive-produced by Cathy Yuspa and Josh Goldsmith, who are returning as showrunners for season 2, along with Steve Brill, Graham, George Heller, Brad Petrigala, Jordan Kerner, and Jon Avnet. No premiere date has been set yet for season 2.