Carolina Hurricanes

How Scott Foster and David Ayres handled the spotlight differently

How Scott Foster and David Ayres handled the spotlight differently

Two years ago today, the unthinkable happened. Scott Foster, a 36-year-old accountant who played in a beer league and tended goal at Western Michigan University over ten years ago, was called upon by the Chicago Blackhawks.

Foster was the emergency backup goalie on March 29, 2018 when the Hawks were facing the Winnipeg Jets at the United Center. Anton Forsberg was slated to start in net for Chicago but suffered a pregame injury. 

Collin Delia made his NHL debut ahead of schedule and was having a solid outing until he was injured with 14:01 left in the third period with the Hawks up 6-2. Foster was forced to suit up and head out onto the ice past a laughing Joel Quenneville and a delightfully stunned Blackhawks bench.

To put the finishing touches on his Cinderella story, Foster stopped all seven shots he faced, including a Dustin Byfuglien slap shot. 

The emergency backup goalie drew chants from a sold-out United Center (who, somehow, collectively already knew his name), seemingly with every save.

“That’s something you’ll never forget. You understand what’s happening, and they’re going to have a lot of fun with it, so you might as well too," Foster told Blackhawks media in the dressing room after the game.

In addition to Delia's debut that night, Brent Seabrook played his 1,000th NHL game, and Dylan Sikura picked up two assists in his NHL debut.

After his night, Foster declined further interviews, wanting to go back to his normal life. Later that summer, he presented the Vezina trophy at the NHL Awards and made his first appearance at the Blackhawks Convention. Since then, he flies under the radar for the most part.

RELATED: "Blackhawks Talk" podcast: 1-on-1 with Scott Foster on 1-year anniversary 

Then, there's David Ayres, who was called upon as an EBUG a little over a month ago by the Carolina Hurricanes on the road against the Toronto Maple Leafs. 

Ayres, a 42-year-old Zamboni driver for the American Hockey League's Toronto Marlies, came into the game midway through the second period with Canes goalies Petr Mrazek and James Reimer being injured beforehand. 

The start of the game wasn't so magical for Ayres. He allowed two goals on the first two shots he faced. But he stuck with it and ended up saving eight of 10 shots over a 29-minute span across two periods, and put a shot on net in the Hurricanes' 6-3 win over the Maple Leafs, who Ayres had occasionally filled in for at practices. 

He became the oldest goalie in NHL history to win a regular season debut and the first EBUG to be credited with a win in an NHL game (Foster didn't play long enough). His stick was sent to the Hockey Hall of Fame. 

Ayres' wife, Sarah, live-tweeted his debut and, like Foster, his story was a media sensation. Unlike Foster, Ayres kept it going. 

His whirlwind media tour over the next few days included a stop in New York and a plethora of interviews, including NBC's “Today” show and a monologue bit on CBS’ "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert."

He signed autographs for fans at a Canes game, and Carolina sold Ayres t-shirt jerseys with the EBUG receiving royalties and a portion of the proceeds going to a kidney foundation. 

So which last line of defense handled their situation appropriately?

Why not both?

Foster lived a dream, too, but embraced who he really was and the life he really had. He still appreciates a close association with the Hawks, honoring more obligations with them and remaining an EBUG with the team.

Ayres, several years older than Foster, soaked it all in and Stretch-Armstronged his 15 minutes of fame to span several days. During that time, he also advocated for kidney transplants, being a kidney transplant survivor himself. 

Two different games. Two different goalies. Two different ways to handle the most unique situation in professional sports. And one correct outlook on how their stories unfolded before our eyes: Awesome. 

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Summer games may be difficult for NHL ice makers once games resume

USA Today

Summer games may be difficult for NHL ice makers once games resume

The NHL season has been paused since March 12 due to COVID-19, with the fate of the rest of the season uncertain as society continues to grapple with the pandemic. League officials and fans would like the season to continue once it is safe, but that time may not come until late spring/early summer, which will pose some unforeseen challenges for many teams around the NHL. 

TSN recently interviewed Jared Dupre, an ice technician for the Carolina Hurricanes for the past eight years. The Hurricanes were the first wild card spot for Eastern Conference, hoping to make another deep run in the playoffs, which this season would most likely entail hosting games in July and August. 

"That would probably be one of the bigger challenges we would ever have to deal with in this building," Dupre told TSN. 

North Carolina gets incredibly hot and humid during those months, as do many other cities who’d be hosting NHL matches this summer, and while PNC Arena (home of Hurricanes) is equipped to handle some humidity, playing in July would add an extra level of difficulty. 

"Our building has desiccant dehumidifiers on the roof and we try and pull the temperature down and the humidity out of the building, but once the doors open it's basically null and void . Because once the doors are open and all that hot, humid air starts coming in , we can't pull it back out with the people in here. You get 15​,000-plus people in the building for a game, you're adding to the humidity with people talking and yelling and screaming and the general body heat warming the air,” Dupre explained. 

Dupre said this wouldn’t just be a problem for the Hurricanes, but any NHL team across the eastern seaboard. This would include teams such as the Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators and Dallas Stars. 

Dupre explained it's impossible to tell how much this will affect the quality ice during games, since it is still unknown when these games will even be able to be played, but it will be something the NHL will have to take into consideration once games resume.

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NHL to potentially discuss emergency goalie rules at general managers meetings

USA Today

NHL to potentially discuss emergency goalie rules at general managers meetings

The NHL general managers meetings are set to begin next week and one of the topics on the docket to be discussed may be emergency backup goalie (EBUG) procedures. The recent interest in reevaluating EBUG rules come after 42-year-old David Ayres suited up to play for the Carolina Hurricanes in their 6-3 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs this past weekend.

The issue of EBUGs comes up so rarely that NHL GMs don’t typically give it much thought. NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly spoke about EBUGs this Tuesday during the Washington Capitals and Winnipeg Jets game.

“It's something we've given some consideration to over the years. As recently as last year, we discussed [it] with the general managers. It happens very, very rarely, but when it happens, it obviously raises everybody's attention to the issue and whether there are fixes that need to be made to that particular issue,” he explained. “We have to work with the [NHL] Players' Association. Who's a player? Who's not a player? What qualifies all of that? But obviously we want what's best for the game, and we want to make sure people aren't putting themselves in danger by playing goal in a National Hockey League game. ... So that's obviously something we have to continue to work through."

Currently, the 2019-20 NHL official rules state, “if both listed goalkeepers are incapacitated, that team shall be entitled to dress and play any available goalkeeper who is eligible."

Ayres drives the Zamboni at the Mattamy Athletic Center in Toronto and frequently practices with the Leafs. Ayres stepped in the net after Hurricanes goalies James Reimer and Petr Mrazek were both injured. He made eight saves and is the oldest goalie in NHL history to make his regular season debut.

The Blackhawks had their own instance of needing an EBUG in 2018 against the Winnipeg Jets. Scott Foster, a then-36-year-old accountant stepped in the net at the United Center after Corey Crawford and Collin Delia were sidelined by injury. Foster saved all seven shots on goal, making him the first EBUG to make a save and a hometown hero in Chicago. 

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