Gotta Learn It: NHL rules for emergency goalies

Roberto Luongo and Al Montoya both got injured in the Panthers' game against the Leafs, so goalie coach Robb Tallas put on the pads and prepared to play. Roberto Luongo eventually came back in to relieve Montoya.

The Florida Panthers’ wild game of musical crease Tuesday night brought up an interesting question:

If a team’s starting goaltender and their backup go down to injury, who is allowed to strap on the pads and take over the position?

When starter Roberto Luongo and backup Al Montoya both suffered injuries in the Panthers’ 3-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs Tuesday, forward Derek MacKenzie entertained the idea of throwing on some extra padding and goaltending coach Robb Tallas, who hadn’t played an NHL game since 2001, put on the pads and prepared to step in — as he did on March 3, 2013, when backup Jacob Markstrom’s equipment got caught in transit.

Although Luongo eventually changed back out of his suit and into his gear to relieve Montoya, Panthers reporter George Richards tweeted that people close to the bench were saying that a replacement had to be one of the players. And Panthers GM Dale Tallon told Richards that the team was considering playing without a goalie in net.

Confusion aplenty.

So, who can sub-in? And how much time do they have to get ready?

From the NHL rulebook:

“Each team shall have on its bench, or on a chair immediately beside the bench, a substitute goalkeeper who shall, at all times, be fully dressed and equipped ready to play. Except when both goalkeepers are incapacitated, no skater in the playing roster in that game shall be permitted to wear the equipment.

“In regular League and Playoff games, if both listed goalkeepers are incapacitated, that team shall be entitled to dress and play any available goalkeeper who is eligible. This goalkeeper is eligible to sit on the player’s bench, in uniform. In the event that the two regular goalkeepers are injured or incapacitated in quick succession, the third goalkeeper shall be provided with a reasonable amount of time to get dressed, in addition to a two-minute warm-up (except when he enters the game to defend against a penalty shot).

“If, however, the third goalkeeper is dressed and on the bench when the second goalkeeper becomes incapacitated, the third goalkeeper shall enter the game immediately and no warm-up is permitted.”

So, basically, you can grab anyone available, which is why we saw Dwayne Roloson back in uniform for the Ducks and Artus Irbe suit up for the Sabres in November, and University of Toronto student Brett Willows race to bail out the Maple Leafs in October 2013.

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