Blackhawks

Accountant by day, Blackhawks goalie by night: Scott Foster makes NHL debut in rare circumstance

Accountant by day, Blackhawks goalie by night: Scott Foster makes NHL debut in rare circumstance

Three Blackhawks made their NHL debut on Thursday night. 

Two of them were on the roster. The other was not. Come again?

The Blackhawks' scheduled goaltender to face the Winnipeg Jets — Anton Forsberg — suffered a pregame injury and didn't dress.

Next man up? Collin Delia — recalled from the Rockford IceHogs on Wednesday night. He was expected to get the start on Friday against the Colorado Avalanche, but his opportunity came a day early with Forsberg's injury.

Things were going as good as they could for the 23-year-old netminder. The Blackhawks were up by three goals and he was holding his own, stopping 25 of 27 shots.

But early in the third period, Delia suffered a cramp and would exit the game. Now what?

Enter, Scott Foster. (Who?)

Foster was signed by the Blackhawks on Thursday to an amateur tryout to serve as their emergency goaltender. He's one of a "collection of guys" who are on call for home games should a situation like this one arise. A brief hockey background on Foster: he's a 36-year-old who played four seasons at Western Michigan University from 2002-06. As their goalie, he went 20-22-6 with a .875 save percentage and 3.44 GAA.

When he came into the game, Joel Quenneville's reaction says it all:

After taking some warm-up shots from Jordan Oesterle and Vinnie Hinostroza during a commercial break, it was Foster's time to shine. And boy did he ever.

Foster went 7-for-7 in saves, and the crowd cheered louder after every one. Fans even chanted "Foster! Foster! Foster" a few times after he made a couple of big stops — the biggest coming on Jets' Paul Stastny.

"That’s something you’ll never forget," Foster said. "I mean, you understand what’s happening and they’re going to have a lot of fun with it, so you might as well, too."

The Blackhawks would go on to win by a 6-2 final score. He would also be the No. 1 star of the game.

"I'm an accountant by day," Foster said. "A few hours ago, I was sitting on my computer typing on a 10-key and now I'm standing in front of you guys just finished 14 and a half minutes of NHL hockey."

This isn't the first time the Blackhawks have had to dress an emergency goaltender. Remember Eric Semborski? Though Semborski didn't get to play in a game in 2016, it was a fun story. 

On Thursday, Foster had the chance to. And it's one he'll remember forever.

"From my perspective, this is a dream regardless," Foster said. "This is something that no one can ever take away from me, it's something I can go home and tell my kids and they can tell their friends and whatnot. So it wouldn’t matter from my perspective. Just a ton of fun and a lot of good memories."

NHL Phase 2 target time and guidelines firming up for Return to Play

NHL Phase 2 target time and guidelines firming up for Return to Play

On Monday morning, The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun reported that the NHL and NHLPA sent out a protocol for Phase 2, which includes team practice facilities opening up and small group workouts beginning, that was sent to players and teams late Sunday night.

The memo stated the NHL is planning on transitioning to Phase 2 in early June but the league isn't sure specifically when and how long the camps may last according to LeBrun.

The document also stressed player participation in Phase 2 is voluntary as teams can't require players to travel back to the home ice cities. 

Per LeBrun, the agreement also states no more than six players are permitted to be at a practice facility at one time and no coaches or other team personnel are allowed on the ice. 

Players will be required to wear face coverings while entering and leaving facilities and inside facilities during times when "social distancing cannot be maintained.''

For testing during Phase 2, LeBrun tweeted the following excerpt from the memo:

"As an over-riding principle, testing of asymptomatic Players and Club personnel must be done in the context of excess testing capacity, so as to not deprive health care workers, vulnerable populations and symptomatic individuals from necessary diagnostic tests.''

The NHL released the protocol to the public at 10 a.m. central on Monday.

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Blackhawks 2019-20 season in review: Corey Crawford

Blackhawks 2019-20 season in review: Corey Crawford

The NHL put its 2019-20 season on pause March 12 due to the COVID-19 pandemic but remains hopeful to award the Stanley Cup at some point. Although it's unclear if or when it could return, NBC Sports Chicago will recap the season of each Blackhawks player to date in our "season in review" series. Next up is Corey Crawford.

One of the most intriguing storylines going into Blackhawks training camp this season was how the goaltending tandem would work between Corey Crawford and Robin Lehner, both of whom were going to be pending unrestricted free agents at the end of the season.

You have a two-time Stanley Cup champion on one end and a reigning Vezina Trophy finalist on another and each of them deserved their fair share of starts. It's a good problem to have if you're a coach, but the other part of the challenge is trying to keep both netminders happy.

"They both want to play 60 games, 80 games maybe,” head coach Jeremy Colliton said in November. “That's part of the team. [Patrick Kane] wants to play 60 minutes. It's how it is. Ultimately, we want to make decisions that help the team win and part of that is keeping both guys fresh, keeping both guys playing at a high level and I think that's going to be a benefit for us as the season goes on."

For most of the season, it worked.

Going into the NHL All-Star break, the Blackhawks had the sixth-best team save percentage at .913; Lehner led the way at .922 and Crawford was at .910. But coming out of the break, Crawford was lights out and Lehner was dealt to the Vegas Golden Knights at the Feb. 24 trade deadline.

From Jan. 27 and on, Crawford went 7-7-1 with a 2.46 goals-against average, .927 save percentage, 7.60 goals saved above average and 9.76 high-danger goals saved above average, which ranked No. 1 among all goaltenders over that span, according to Natural Stat Trick. He clearly got into a rhythm the more starts he got and kept the Blackhawks in the playoff race down the stretch.

"He’s been excellent, coming up with big saves when we needed them," Colliton said of Crawford at the beginning of March. "He’s been excellent for a while now. I’d have to really work to go back to find one where we didn’t like his play. It’s a big boost for our group."

With the NHL Players' Association signing off over the weekend on the NHL's proposed 24-team return-to-play format, the Blackhawks will have an opportunity to compete for a playoff spot when hockey returns. And if Crawford can get back to the level he was at before the NHL pause, don't count out the Blackhawks to make some noise because a hot goaltender could be the difference in a series.

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