By Sydney Bucksbaum
February 24, 2021 at 04:18 PM EST
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It's been 25 years since Coach Gordon Bombay (Emilio Estevez) last saw The Mighty Ducks victorious on the ice in D3: The Mighty Ducks. But when he returns onscreen in Disney+'s new series The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers, a lot will have changed for the fan-favorite coach. Prepare yourselves to see a very different Bombay.

"What [showrunners] Josh [Goldsmith] and Cathy [Yuspa] and Steve [Brill] did was they created a Gordon Bombay that was not very much like I'm living," Estevez revealed during the show's winter press tour panel on Wednesday. "They put him in his office. He's hiding out, he's eating leftover birthday cakes from kids' parties and leftover pizza. He's completely disengaged from the world, which is very unlike the Bombay that we saw the last time we saw him in D3."

Because Estevez is returning to the role he played over the course of three Mighty Ducks films in the '90s, he had to adjust to portraying this new kind of Bombay. "It was a shift because if you look at the franchise, my character was always very engaged with the kids and being the coach that we all wished we'd had," he says. "Now there I am hiding out. Over the course of the show, obviously, he comes out of his shell, we see him getting reengaged thanks to not only the kids training there but also through Lauren [Graham]'s character drawing him out, drawing some truth out of him, drawing him out of his shell. But I think it works. We get a full arc for this character throughout the course of the 10 episodes."

The new original series is set in present-day Minnesota, as the Mighty Ducks have evolved from scrappy underdogs to an ultra-competitive, powerhouse youth hockey team. After 12-year-old Evan Morrow (Brady Noon) is unceremoniously cut from the Ducks, he and his mom, Alex (Graham), set out to build their own team of misfits to challenge the cutthroat, win-at-all-costs culture of youth sports today. With the help of Gordon Bombay (Estevez), they rediscover the joys of playing just for the love of the game.

The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers
Credit: Liane Hentscher/ABC

Graham's character Alex is a single mother and reveals that there might be a potential "slow burn" romance building between her and Bombay. "I think the dynamic between these two is slow and interesting and complicated," she says. "Having been a part of slow, romantic, complicated, will-they-won't-they [laughs] I think the most fun is when whatever it's going to happen starts to develop really slowly. There are many levels on which these two are connecting and not connecting. Alex first and foremost is trying to be a good coach and a good mom, and as Alex gets to know Gordon more and more, she gets more curious about him personally. I really love the way it evolved."

And co-creator Brill, who was the original creator, writer, and executive producer of all three films, explains why the Mighty Ducks have become the villains of the story in the new series. "The Ducks, the logical extension of where we left them after the three movies where they got better, stronger, faster, bigger, they got tied into the sports culture, which seemed to get more and more out of control, it seemed logical to us on the creative team that we would make them the behemoth and the team that might have gotten too corporate and too into hockey," he says. "Therefore where did that put Gordon Bombay if he was still with the team? We decided he wouldn't have stayed with the team. So we spun him off into his own journey and the idea will be to reconnect him with the Ducks and the original Ducks."

Speaking of the original Ducks, the showrunners were extremely cagey on whether or not any of the films' stars, aside from Estevez, would show up during the 10-episode first season. After fielding no less than three separate questions about Josh Jackson's Charlie and the other movie cast members, Brill teased, "We have executed certain aspects of that question. We're very excited to keep reinventing from square one the storyline and create a new mythology but we're not ignoring the past or the people in the past so we've always been trying through the whole series to bring people literally, emotionally, suggestively back into the story. It should be fun."

He also revealed that they have "talked to Josh over the years in developing this. He's part of the family, part of the group... When and where [the original Ducks] show up is an open, exciting question." So the Ducks may still fly together, all these years later. But we'll just have to wait until The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers premieres Friday, March 26 to find out for sure. In the meantime, check out the new trailer for the series below:

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