'The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers' Reveals Emilio Estevez's Replacement

Disney has found a replacement for Emilio Estevez in The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers. Josh Duhamel — who was available since his Netflix series Jupiter's Legacy only lasted a season — was hired to play a brand new character. Estevez played his original Mighty Ducks character Gordon Bombay in the first season of the Disney+ sequel series starring Lauren Graham.

Duhamel will star as Gavin Cole, a former NHL player who becomes a coach, reports Deadline. Although he is an inspiration and charming, Gavin isn't easy on his players. He runs a "super-intense" summer hockey camp members of the Mighty Ducks team join in Season 2. Duhamel recently filmed the NBC series The Thing About Pam with Renee Zellweger, which will be released on March 8. He also stars in Shotgun Wedding, a Jennifer Lopez romantic comedy that Lionsgate will release in June.

Estevez surprisingly left Game Changers just before Season 2 production was set to start in November. Initially, sources told Deadline Estevez would not provide "assurances" through his representatives that he would get a COVID-19 vaccination and ABC Signature decided not to pick up the option on his contract. However, he told Deadline he was not leaving the show over a vaccination policy. Instead, Estevez said he had "creative differences" with the show and struggled with long-haul COVID-19 in 2020.

"I am not anti-vaxx. Full stop," Estevez wrote in his statement to Deadline on Nov. 8. "I take this pandemic very seriously, and I am often teased about my continued following of the safety protocols and my abundance of caution." He described his decision to leave as "nothing more than a good old-fashioned contract dispute and not, as some would believe an anti-vaccine position."

Although Estevez was not sure if the COVID protocols would keep everyone safe during Season 1 production in August 2020, he thought it was important to star in the show. "The legacy of the franchise was more important to me than my own health," Estevez wrote. "In retrospect, I wrongly chose to protect the show over being transparent about having contracted Covid-19. I may have provided another public example to wit, how we are all vulnerable to this deadly disease."

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At the end of his statement, he apologized to fans and insisted that the only reason he left was creative differences. "To the fans of the franchise – I am as disappointed as you are," he wrote. "To my Ducks cast and crew – have a wonderful Season 2 on the show and please know that I will miss you all."

Game Changers is produced by ABC Signature. Cathy Yuspa and Josh Goldsmith are returning as showrunners. Steve Brill, who wrote the original Mighty Ducks films, is an executive producer and co-creator on Game Changers. The first season is available on Disney+.