There’s one position on every NHL roster that’s cut from a different cloth than all the rest. One that isn’t so much for athletes in their prime as it is for the dreamers.
That position is, of course, that of the emergency backup goalie.
Per NHL rules, every club must have a capable netminder in the stands in case one or both of said team’s usual goaltenders are unable to play. The Los Angeles Kings, thinking ahead, recently announced they’re holding open tryouts in late September to ensure they have a viable ‘tender at every 2017-18 home game.
Past clubs weren’t quite as prepared, however. That said, here’s a look at some of the most interesting and unexpected emergency backup goalie stories from recent NHL history:
After the club’s usual second-string netminder Michal Neuvirth went down with an injury during warmups, Leonhardt was called to the show, geared up and plopped in the backup chair for Washington.
Though Braden Holtby started the tilt and helped avoid any serious crisis, Leonhardt arguably had the tougher assignment, serving as both backup netminder and video coach for the Capitals:
Nathan Schoenfeld, Arizona Coyotes
The Arizona Coyotes had a similar situation occur in February 2016, also against the Canadiens, interestingly enough.
Coyotes equipment manager Stan Wilson provided the solution, calling up his son-in-law Nathan Schoenfeld.
New guy Nathan Schoenfeld gets the MVP belt! https://t.co/y5TqVouCUP
— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) February 16, 2016
Schoenfeld, then playing for a local men’s league, jumped at the opportunity. He also made sure to send a message to his father Jim Schoenfeld, who happened to be the general manager of the New York Rangers’ AHL club at the time.
“I asked him if the Rangers had any scouts at the game, and if you do, tell them to check out the Coyotes backup goaltender tonight,” the younger Schoenfeld recalled.
Jorge Alves, Carolina Hurricanes
Of all the emergency backup stories, Jorge Alves’ takes the cake.
The Carolina Hurricanes equipment manager was called to the big leagues in December 2016 when Eddie Lack fell ill before a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, leaving nobody to serve behind starter Cam Ward.
Alves, who had previously practiced with the Hurricanes on occasion, earned his shot. And the rookie made the most of his opportunity, even painting his own mask to ensure he looked slick on the ice.
Good thing, because the former marine actually got into the game, playing the final few seconds of the Hurricanes loss, allowing a flawless zero goals on zero shots.