What could have been a neat and memorable moment at the end of the Flyers-Devils game didn’t happen because of the rule book.
We need to get this rule changed.
First a little background: Flyers goalie Steve Mason had to miss Saturday’s game with an illness. Michal Neuvirth got the start, but collapsed in the crease during a stoppage in play and left the arena to get to a hospital. Anthony Stolarz, who was supposed to start for the AHL’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Saturday, rushed to the arena and arrived just in time to back up Neuvirth, then had to take over midway through the first period.
As a result, the team signed Eric Semborski, a 23-year-old youth hockey coach, to an amateur tryout so he could back up Stolarz.
And Semborski nearly got into his first NHL game Saturday night. With 24 seconds left and the Flyers up 3-0, head coach Dave Hakstol put the amateur goalie in the net before a faceoff. But it didn’t take long for the referees to kibosh the moment, forcing the Flyers to put Stolarz back in.
The problem is, since Semborski was the second emergency call-up for the Flyers and not a contracted player, he’s not allowed to actually get into the game unless there is an injury. And since Stolarz was able to finish the game, he had to stay in.
It’s the second time that Semborski nearly got into an NHL game this season.
If you’ll recall, the Blackhawks used Semborski to backup Scott Darling in a December game against the Flyers after Corey Crawford had to undergo an emergency appendectomy. In that game, the Blackhawks had a 1-0 lead, but blew it by allowing two Flyers goals in 31 seconds and a third less than five minutes later.
After that game, Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said he considered putting Semborski in the game.
“Who knows if he’d have gotten a chance to play, it was under consideration,” Quenneville said. When pressed on what it would have taken for him to actually put Semborski in, the Hawks coach said: “Well you almost saw it.”
Turns out, he may not have been allowed to anyway.
On Saturday night, Flyers fans booed after they realized they were being robbed of something unique.
Let. Him. Play.