NHL Deputy Commissioner Billy Daly said the league will continue to look for better ways to handle emergency backup goalies after 42-year-old Zamboni driver David Ayres had to suit up for the Carolina Hurricanes over the weekend.
Speaking to reporters in Washington, D.C., Daly said “there’s no easy fixes,” but more discussions will be had at the upcoming general managers meetings in Florida.
“It’s something we’ve given some consideration to over the years. As recently as last year, we discussed [it] with the general managers,” Daly said, according to NHL.com. “It happens very, very rarely, but when it happens, it obviously raises everybody’s attention to the issue and whether there are fixes that need to be made to that particular issue.”
Ayres made eight saves on 10 shots to help the Hurricanes beat the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday after both James Reimer and Petr Mrazek went down with injuries. Ayres has since become a media darling — with appearances on the Today Show and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert among many others.
The current rule for emergency backup goalies requires the home team have someone in the building in case both goalkeepers are “incapacitated.” Ayres was the first emergency goalie to actually see the ice since March of 2018, when accountant Scott Foster made seven saves for the Chicago Blackhawks against the Winnipeg Jets.
Daly was asked about ways the NHL could improve the current rule and raised some other questions that, according to him, would need to be answered first.
“We have to work with the [NHL] Players’ Association. Who’s a player? Who’s not a player? What qualifies all of that?” Daly said. “But obviously we want what’s best for the game, and we want to make sure people aren’t putting themselves in danger by playing goal in a National Hockey League game … So that’s obviously something we have to continue to work through.”