“State of Play” is the 10th and final episode in the first season of The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers, and it delivers what viewers have been expecting all along: a rematch between the Don’t Bothers and the Mighty Ducks. It does this with some plot twists and — to quote Coach Orion from the third Mighty Ducks film — a few “little duck tricks.”
NOTE: This review contains minor spoilers.
We were all hoping for an hour-long final episode that followed the Don’t Bothers throughout the Minnesota State Tournament. Or at least I was. Instead, we get an episode that barely-longer than a standard Ducks episode at just 34 minutes. Most of the tournament is wrapped up at breakneck pace because the final episode really isn’t about the tournament.
The Don’t Bothers defeat their first three opponents in a snappy montage sequence, then head to the semifinals to play the Lumberjacks — a bigger, stronger, team clad in black; sound familiar? The Don’t Bothers win and will face the Ducks in the finals, but Sofi inures her knee.
This puts the team in a tough spot. Sofi could play but at the risk of potentially hurting her knee further, even permanently. And Sofi really wants to play, despite her parents, Alex, Gordon, and Evan urging her not to.
But if Sofi does not play, the Don’t Bothers would have to forfeit because they don’t have the required 10 players suited up. (Why she doesn’t just suit up, skate one shift, then sit out the rest of the game – a la Steven Stamkos in the 2020 Stanley Cup Finals — is a serious plot hole that needs to be addressed.) Sofi insists that she is playing, so the rest of the team, in a showing of unity, all declare that they are all sitting out so that Sofi is not the cause of the forfeit.
The Ducks are named state champions for the 11th year in a row, but Gordon and Alex issue a challenge to Ducks’ head coach Coach T. The two teams will play the next day at the Ice Palace in an unofficial rematch. If the Mighty Ducks win, the Don’t Bothers will fold. But if the Don’t Bothers win, the Mighty Ducks will cede their team name to the Don’t Bothers.
And thus the stakes are set. The Don’t Bothers aren’t just playing for a trophy; they are playing so that they can continue to exist as a team.
“State of Play” is a great final episode for the first season of The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers, as it raises the stakes beyond what could be won or lost at a tournament. There is a lot of satisfying hockey action in this episode, too. Unfortunately, much of it is narrated by “The Wraparound” podcast host Mary Joe, which gets old fast; why can’t sports stories just let us watch the action unfold, instead of spoon-feeding the viewer everything? Nonetheless, Game Changers sticks to its original premise that youth sports should — and can — be fun, and leaves room to grow and improve if and when there is a second season.
BONUS: Duck Eggs
Each week, I’ll share a few Easter Eggs, callbacks to the Ducks films, and interesting observations about the episode.
Hello, operator? I’d like to report a “Flying V” sighting.
Some of the other teams playing in the tournament include the Maroon Marauders, Caribou, Renegades, Lumberjacks, Marmots, Storming Bears, Mustangs, Black Pumas and Fire Blades. There are also banners hanging at the tournament for the NovaStars, Hawks, Huskies and Cardinals. Curious, as the Hawks, Huskies and Cardinals play in the same division as the Ducks and Don’t Bothers, and only the top two teams in each division make it to the State Tournament. Maybe every team in the state, even those not playing, has a banner on display at the tournament?
A uniform change by the good guy team in the third period? Really?
Gordon tells Sofi “I’ve had more knee operations than I can count.” Either he sustained more injuries than the one we see at the beginning of D2, or that knee injury needed numerous surgeries over the years.
According to Gordon, the rink at the Ice Palace is only 180 feet long instead of the standard 200 feet.
Don’t Bothers goalie Jaden “Koob” Koobler sings the National Anthem before the game between the Ducks and the Don’t Bothers. Koob is played by Luke Islam, who was a contestant on America’s Got Talent in 2019.
The tournament official who congratulates the Ducks and hands Coach T. the trophy at the championship ceremony is former Vancouver Canucks goaltender Kirk McClean. The show is filmed in Vancouver, and McLean was one of the Canucks’ most popular players in the 1990s.
When the Ducks and the Don’t Bothers play against each other, the injured Sofi wears an original green Ducks jersey with number 99 and the name “Banks” on the back. This is both ironic and coincidental, as Adam Banks was the original Ducks’ best player and was often injured.
What did you think of The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers Season One? Did you love it or hate it, or are you somewhere in between? Would you watch a second season of Game Changers if Disney made it. And if so, what would you like to see happen in the next season?
Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk. ■