Hockey is a very different sport, and I think this phenomenon is only something you see in hockey.
On January 13, 2022, the New Jersey Devils found themselves in what you might call “a situation”. Starters Mackenzie Blackwood and Jonathan Bernier were sidelined with illness/injuries. AHL goalie Nico Daws was also out with an injury. Akira Schmid was in COVID-19 protocol. Mareks Mitens, Utica’s third-string goalie, was needed at the AHL level. The Devils had recently traded for Jon Gillies, who was moved up to the starter’s position for that night’s game. But the Devils were left without a backup goalie.
Enter NHL Rule 5.3
This rule allows a team, in the event they are short a goalie, to dress an emergency backup goaltender. This goalie is permitted to sit on the bench, in uniform and gear, but is only allowed to enter the game in the event the starting goalie is injured. This rule was changed not long ago, when the NHL decided not to be fun and wanted to prevent teams from inserting their emergency backup for a shift or a minute to give them what would obviously be an unforgettable moment for them. But I digress.
The Devils turned to Kyle Shapiro and signed him to an Amateur Try Out (ATO) contract.
Kyle is currently an assistant coach with the Trenton Titans of the NAHL. Kyle played three years at the University of Southern Maine and one year at New England College.
Kyle was assigned number 65 and participated in the team’s optional practice that morning. He would then lead the team out onto the ice that night, skating a lap around by himself before the team joined him, another great hockey tradition. Unfortunately, he did not see any game action but he had what must have otherwise been the experience of a lifetime.
It was Kyle’s experience that opened me up to including players who had dressed for a game but had not played in my collection. There have not been very many in the Devils’ history. I reached out to him on Instagram after his experience and asked if he would be willing to sign a puck for me to add to my collection, but I did not get a response.
Several months later I reached out again, and this time, Kyle responded right away. He apologized for having missed my original message with all that was going on, and agreed to sign a puck for me. I sent him everything he needed and he returned this beautifully signed puck for me (he may have been an emergency backup, but that’s a professional player’s signature!).
Very happy to have added this puck, and of course, special thanks to Kyle for helping out.