"I think I'm just hitting my prime."
March 30, 2018 4:51 AM   Subscribe

NHL rules require both teams to keep two goalies available for play. Teams keep a local beer-league player on hand to suit up and sit on the bench should one of their goalies be unavailable - and if that other goalie goes down, they get on the ice and play. The only time this has happened recently was for less than eight seconds in a 1-3 losing game with the Hurricanes on New Year's Eve, 2016, but that changed tonight when 36-year-old rec-league goalie Scott Foster suited up for the Chicago Blackhawks and went 7 for 7 against a playoffs-bound Winnipeg Jets.
posted by Punkey (54 comments total) 71 users marked this as a favorite
 
Holy shit, this is amazing.
posted by middleclasstool at 5:00 AM on March 30, 2018 [7 favorites]


Awesome.
posted by parki at 5:05 AM on March 30, 2018


I'm not a hockey fan, but I would have assumed if a team ran out of goalies they'd stick some other random guy from the roster in the net and hope for the best. This is so much better.
posted by the primroses were over at 5:12 AM on March 30, 2018 [16 favorites]


This is so great! It may even be better than the fact that today is the last day of work before spring break!

Who am I kidding? It's totally not better. But still awesome!
posted by jenny76 at 5:15 AM on March 30, 2018


This put a big smile on my face early on a Friday morning. Thanks!!
posted by Fritzle at 5:26 AM on March 30, 2018


It's probably better if you're Scott Foster. I'm sure he would have been beyond thrilled just to go out there and get totally thrashed by some of the best players in the game, but he actually held his own! He'll be drinking for free on that one for quite a while I bet.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 5:27 AM on March 30, 2018 [13 favorites]


In any and all subsequent interviews, he should tactfully deny that there's any goalie controversy, despite not being asked.
posted by pykrete jungle at 5:36 AM on March 30, 2018 [44 favorites]


I used to have a mutual acquaintance with a guy who was the emergency backup for the Sabres. It's pretty thrilling just to be that guy, let alone getting into the game.

"he should tactfully deny that there's any goalie controversy"

Well, the Hawks could use a spark this year...
posted by kevinbelt at 5:38 AM on March 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


I was the backup backup backup backup backup for Jay Cutler in my mind from 2012-2016. Pretty sure everyone else in Chicago was too.
posted by srboisvert at 5:42 AM on March 30, 2018 [18 favorites]


Not a blackhawks fan but this was amazing! go broncos
posted by rebent at 5:59 AM on March 30, 2018


For folks on phones, the final link isn't one giant video link, but three separate ones. (Deadspin, Washington Post, YouTube.)
posted by zamboni at 6:05 AM on March 30, 2018 [2 favorites]


This sounds like some sitcom or throwaway netflix movie level plot and I absolutely love it. (I will also accept the sports anime version of this adaptation)
posted by dinty_moore at 6:07 AM on March 30, 2018 [10 favorites]


Also that Winnepeg accent on the announcer is pretty great.
posted by dinty_moore at 6:07 AM on March 30, 2018 [5 favorites]


I'm not a hockey fan, but I would have assumed if a team ran out of goalies they'd stick some other random guy from the roster in the net and hope for the best. This is so much better.


Yeah, is there some reason they don't do that? Like position players pitching in MLB.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:22 AM on March 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


Rocky on Ice.

I'm not a hockey buy but I am a guy who loves a good story. This is great.
posted by bondcliff at 6:33 AM on March 30, 2018 [3 favorites]


This is absolutely delightful. I want the movie adaptation of this story.
posted by slimepuppy at 6:36 AM on March 30, 2018 [4 favorites]


In the case of the Hurricanes, Jorge has acted as the emergency back up goalie in practice for years. When someone was hurt, needed a rest day, or a player wanted to stay late working on their shot etc... Jorge would step in to help. Bill Peters wanted reward him for his hard work to the team and let him play a few seconds of a live NHL game.
posted by remo at 6:36 AM on March 30, 2018 [4 favorites]


Yeah, is there some reason they don't do that? Like position players pitching in MLB.

Everyone in the MLB can at least throw the ball reasonably hard. But being a goaltender and being a "skater" are really entirely different skill sets and players generally get sorted into those roles at very early ages. Often the position players who get asked to pitch in emergencies in the MLB actually pitched competitively in high school, at least. A guy who suits up to skate in the NHL has probably never played goalie, ever.
posted by AndrewInDC at 6:38 AM on March 30, 2018 [31 favorites]


There's no rule that says a dog can't be a goalie.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 6:38 AM on March 30, 2018 [35 favorites]


They should vote him "Rookie of the Year"
posted by sfts2 at 6:50 AM on March 30, 2018 [5 favorites]


I love the contrast of all of the players giving him encouraging fist bumps as he gets on the ice— the vibe is very, okay, well, give it your best shot, bud!— versus them piling on him in jubilation at the end of the game.

Also, I very much appreciated this tweet:

@hockeymandude: What do you do Scott? I’m an accountant. Anything else? Oh yeah, I also have the GREATEST SAVE PERCENTAGE IN NHL HISTORY!
posted by a fiendish thingy at 7:06 AM on March 30, 2018 [67 favorites]


I'm not a hockey fan, but I would have assumed if a team ran out of goalies they'd stick some other random guy from the roster in the net and hope for the best. This is so much better.

Yeah, is there some reason they don't do that? Like position players pitching in MLB.


In 2012, this happened to the Erie Otters, a team in the OHL (major junior - college age players, many of whom will be drafted by the NHL; the equivalent of college football or basketball). They were on the road and their first goalie got injured one night, they didn't call up any of their available reserves and their second goalie was injured a couple of minutes into the next game. Connor Crisp, who normally plays centre, was drafted to be the goalie. Rather than describing the game (Sportsnet video here) here's the CBC headline:

OHL centre pressed into goalie duty in 13-4 loss

GM apologizes for 'embarrassment to the league'

So that's the reason why.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 7:07 AM on March 30, 2018 [15 favorites]


"is there some reason they don't do that?"

In addition to a completely different skillset that takes years to learn, tending goal also requires a significant amount of precisely-fitted equipment. There are regulations about how big a goalie's equipment can be, and equipment that's too small is both uncomfortable and a safety hazard. So unless you have a skater who is the exact same size as one of the goaltenders, you would need to keep thousands of dollars worth of equipment on hand for a situation that occurs in only a tiny fraction of a percentage of games. The cost is high, and the benefit, as Homeboy Trouble showed, is minimal.
posted by kevinbelt at 7:13 AM on March 30, 2018 [7 favorites]


Those were some quality stops, too. The Jets meant business and came at him hard.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:16 AM on March 30, 2018 [5 favorites]


The guy is never buying his own drink in a bar in Chicago again.
posted by GuyZero at 7:50 AM on March 30, 2018 [10 favorites]


Even cooler is that the emergency goalie is available to either team. If Winnipeg had both of their goalies go down, he could have gone in as a Jet.
posted by azpenguin at 7:55 AM on March 30, 2018 [13 favorites]


His Elite Prospects page is great.

2006-17 Did not play
posted by bowmaniac at 7:57 AM on March 30, 2018 [17 favorites]


This:
“Among hockey’s great quirks,” as Hockey News explained, “is that it’s the only pro sport with the potential for someone not on the roster to come out of the stands and actually play in the game.” But, “it takes a very rare set of circumstances to open that door.”
posted by parm=serial at 7:59 AM on March 30, 2018 [2 favorites]


This happened to a buddy who subs for my beer league team from time to time. Crawford developed appendicitis on the way to philly and they didn't have anyone to suit up so they asked the flyers if they had someone. He suited up for the blackhawks but didn't get to play. From what I understand he had to sign a tryout contract and they couldn't pay him because of the salary cap but they did give him some really nice equipment and a kick ass Temple/Blackhawks mask.

He also was a backup for the flyers after Neuvirth was injured mid game. He didn't get to play there either though since the rules states they couldn't put him in unless the backup was injured as well.
posted by cmfletcher at 8:03 AM on March 30, 2018 [6 favorites]


I'm not a hockey fan, but I would have assumed if a team ran out of goalies they'd stick some other random guy from the roster in the net and hope for the best. This is so much better.

Yeah, is there some reason they don't do that? Like position players pitching in MLB.


It takes about a month to get into goalie equipment and it is kind of important that it actually fits when you are facing 100 mph frozen rubber disks.
posted by srboisvert at 8:10 AM on March 30, 2018 [3 favorites]


Chicago Tribune chimes in.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:15 AM on March 30, 2018


It's such a cool story. Even though I knew a little about this possibility before, I had no idea that he was on tap for BOTH TEAMS -- like, this is basically a service provided by the home team in the event either team gets fucked over by goalie injury. He could just as easily ("easily") come in for the Jets instead.

Over in the Deadspin comments someone answered the "how to they find these guys" question, which I thought was interesting -- apparently the Blackhawks practice facility also hosts the best rec league in Chicago, and he's the best goalie in that league.

His mini press conference after the game is pretty great and the newspaper articles do a very bad job of conveying the tongue-in-cheek holy-shit-did-that-really-happen humor he brought to it; the press quotes end up sounding really earnest but many of his quotes (like "You just keep grinding away in men’s league, and eventually you get your shot") work way better as he delivered them, as comedy.
posted by range at 8:18 AM on March 30, 2018 [22 favorites]


Wow! I'm by no means a hockey fan (I once embarrassed myself in a bar by asking what "quarter" it was), but for many years I've treasured the story of the 44-year-old Lester Patrick, coach of the New York Rangers, strapping on the equipment and going out to tend goal in the 1928 Stanley Cup series (the coach of the Montreal Maroons refused to let him use an available replacement) and winning the game (seriously, read that account, it's a terrific story). Now I have two goaltender tales to astonish my grandsons with!
posted by languagehat at 8:27 AM on March 30, 2018 [17 favorites]


As a Winnipegger, I can confidently state that this is most satisfying loss in Jets history.
posted by joelhunt at 8:38 AM on March 30, 2018 [17 favorites]


He'll never live that up.
posted by hawthorne at 8:53 AM on March 30, 2018 [3 favorites]


I love the fact that the author of this story is an intern and a journalism student at Northwestern University. I wonder if she's ever had a byline in a major US paper before?
posted by dancing_angel at 8:59 AM on March 30, 2018 [4 favorites]


He actually plays elite league, and elite league at Johnny's apparently is some of the most competitive in the country, like a step below the ECHL. But it's still a big step, and the jumps from ECHL to AHL to NHL are substantial as well.
posted by tavella at 9:07 AM on March 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


That was a great story! Thanks for sharing.
posted by JenMarie at 9:10 AM on March 30, 2018


re skaters not being goalies...

Sidney Crosby would like to have a word with you. Of course Crosby is greatest in the NHL currently. I dont' come across video like this for McDavid!

And congrats to Foster!
posted by beaning at 9:37 AM on March 30, 2018 [2 favorites]


I love the shrug he gives at the final buzzer (2:14 of the final link). No big deal ... and you guys are buying the drinks.
posted by philip-random at 9:39 AM on March 30, 2018 [7 favorites]


What a great story! Love it.
posted by widdershins at 10:06 AM on March 30, 2018


Hey languagehat, if this helps at all, I don't think you should be as embarrassed as the person who once asked me how many quarters a hockey game has.
posted by 7segment at 12:04 PM on March 30, 2018 [11 favorites]




I love everything about this!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:22 PM on March 30, 2018 [4 favorites]


I've always enjoyed asking hockey-loving friends which trimester of the game it is.

This story is just the best.
posted by hototogisu at 6:12 PM on March 30, 2018 [4 favorites]


This is such a great story.

Just turned into the Chicago / Colorado game and the announcers were talking about how great it was and how the Blackhawks press org did a great job of presenting all of Foster's details on very short notice.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 7:29 PM on March 30, 2018


He even has an AC/DC decal on his mask!
posted by not_on_display at 7:51 PM on March 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


OK, this is a delight. The Chicago Steel (a USHL team) want to sign Foster as an emergency backup accountant.

Chicago Steel Hockey Team Hoping To Sign Scott Foster As Emergency Accountant
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 8:27 PM on March 30, 2018 [11 favorites]


Somebody page Jon Bois and ask him to cover this on Pretty Good.
posted by Joey Michaels at 8:48 PM on March 30, 2018 [4 favorites]


When this happened last season with Eric Semborski the Hawks played it up (their marketing department is very proactive) and the guy didn't even get to play. As cmfletcher mentioned above, he was called as an emergency goalie out of town but they brought him into the United Center, gave him a jersey, and made a little marketing video after the fact. I thought it must be weird to be a huge fan of your local team and then be called in two hours in advance to play against your favorite team. I'm sure Scott Foster will get something similar, and I hope they play up his perfect record in the NHL.
posted by Bunglegirl at 10:10 PM on March 30, 2018


I was listening to the game, and it was amazing to hear the glee in the radio guys’ voices as Foster kept blocking shots and the crowd got louder and louder.

A couple of years ago, the Indy Fuel (the Blackhawks’ ECHL affiliate) signed their social media guy as the EBUG, though he didn’t play.
posted by percolatrix at 10:27 PM on March 30, 2018


Many of the stories I've read seem to portray Scott Foster as just this guy off the street, instead of an active beer league player playing at a relatively high level. The latter admittedly doesn't fit into a heroic story line though.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:08 AM on March 31, 2018 [1 favorite]


It's like bringing in some guy from the local 30-and-up hardball league as a closer in an MLB game. Some of those guys are serious athletes, but they're not seasoned pros, and this is an incredibly important and specialized role everyone in the sport not playing that position is trained and recruited to put to the test. It's still really heroic and way more believable than random-guy-off-the-street.
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:35 PM on March 31, 2018 [3 favorites]


"Many of the stories I've read seem to portray Scott Foster as just this guy off the street, instead of an active beer league player playing at a relatively high level. The latter admittedly doesn't fit into a heroic story line though."

The level of hockey Foster played in previously in D1 NCAA (though 13 years removed) and probably the most competitive "beer league" in the country does not totally put him out of place. Though, facing a Laine one timer and stopping it is a difficult task even for a NHL goalie.
posted by remo at 3:32 PM on March 31, 2018


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