The third episode of The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers catches us up with what happened to Gordon Bombay during the past 25 years.
(This post has become popular since “Breakaway” first aired on April 9–please check out some of my other writing on the series–including interviews for the reunion episode).
The following contains spoilers for “Breakway,” the third episode in The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers.
When The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers premiered on March 26, it had been almost 24 and a half years since we saw Emilio Estevez portray legendary Mighty Ducks coach Gordon Bombay. Fans saw a cynical version of the coach during the first two episodes. One that honestly wants nothing to do with hockey. After watching the first two episodes, I was curious to see how Bombay would evolve throughout the series. What led him to place a “No Hockey” sign at the Ice Palace? This episode changes everything about the man. We now know why he stepped away from the game he loves so much. It turns out that just being a good person means nothing when it comes to NCAA rules. And yet, this is why he’s no longer coaching college hockey.
Coach Bombay goes from telling Alex Morrow (Lauren Graham) to stop coaching hockey to drawing up a play in her coaching notebook when she isn’t playing attention. Shortly thereafter, Alex looks up Gordon Bombay online. The clipping is barely on the screen for more than a few seconds. You’ll need to pause at just the right time. What we learn is that the Minnesota Miracle Man takes on a coaching job with St. Paul State. However, he would leave after 6 months with Coach Armani saying that Bombay “wasn’t a good fit.”
“I quit the Ducks when they had changed,” Bombay tells Alex. “They became a team that only cared about winning. It was heartbreaking and I had to let them go. I went to play pro and lived the dream. In one shift, a 19-year-old player hit me so hard, it tore my ACL in half and knocked four teeth out of me…but I got up and yes, I put together an awesome college program. We were unstoppable.”
On walking away: “I didn’t walk away. I broke the recruitment rules. It turns out there are actual state laws. I gave money to a kid that didn’t have any. A good kid who couldn’t afford tape for his stick. It seemed like the right thing to do at the time. He plays for the Islanders now.”
Bombay said he was asked to quietly resign and told he could never coach college again. “I spent my entire life chasing hockey and I have absolutely nothing to show for it except for the Ice Palace.” A friend left it to him in his will along with a ton of debt. Bombay opens up and tells Alex that he doesn’t hate hockey, he loves hockey but that is “how all of this happened.”
Josh Goldsmith and Cathy Yuspa wrote this episode. Steve Brill created the franchise and also serves as head writer. I have no doubt that he had a say in coming up with the backstory. Bombay was director of Director of Player Personnel for Hendrix when we last saw him in 1996. During the first two episodes, Bombay comes off as a cynical man. During this episode, we’re starting to see signs of a man who just might want to coach again. Of course, time will certainly tell!
What we knew going into the series is that the Ducks are now a powerhouse team much like the Hawks were in the first film. The Don’t Bothers are clearly the underdogs–again, just like the Ducks in all three films. It’s not unfair to say that through three episodes, the series is playing along similar lines as the films. But as I wrote in my review (linked above), I feel that the third episode is where the series is just starting to hit its stride. We’ll see how things develop over the next three weeks.