Minnesota Wild sign 51-year-old backup; don’t play him, unfortunately

Puck Daddy

Great story out of Minnesota on Wednesday, as the Minnesota Wild found themselves without a backup goalie the morning of their game versus the Nashville Predators. With Niklas Backstrom out for undisclosed personal reasons, Josh Harding got the start, and Houston Aeros' netminder Matt Hackett was called up to back him up.

There was some uncertainty, however, over whether Hackett would be able to make it to the game on time, meaning the Wild had to get creative in dressing a contingency backup. Because league rules prohibit signing an emergency backup with pro experience, the Wild found themselves in the same position every road hockey team finds themselves pretty much every week: in desperate need of a goalie, and willing to take just about anyone.

The solution: 51-year-old print shop owner Paul Deutsch. From the Star-Tribune:

Goalie coach Bob Mason called Deutsch at work at 3 p.m. The contract needed to be into the NHL offices by 4 p.m. He faxed it over, rushed to the arena and signed three more hard copies. He took over Backstrom's locker-room stall and got to sit through coach Mike Yeo's pregame meetings.

"It's pretty intense," he said.

Deutsch, a friend of Wild assistant coach Mike Ramsey, used to fill in during Minnesota's practices, on occasion, if a goaltender was injured. Of course, it's one thing to practice with a team. It's another to dress for a game.

Needless to say, Deutsch was somewhat nervous.

"I actually was shaking while I was signing [the contract]," said Deutsch, who filled in "Minnesota Roosevelt Junior Varsity defenseman -- 1978," as his previous team on the contract.

Any trepidation he had was likely mitigated by the fact that Minnesota's opponent was Nashville, meaning there would probably only be six or seven shots directed his way.

Sadly, the story ends here, as Hackett arrived on time, the 51-year-old didn't play, and there is therefore no footage of what would have been the NHL equivalent of tying Milhouse to the posts.

No word on whether the Tampa Bay Lightning are considering Deutsch as a trade deadline acquisition.

This isn't the first time an inexperienced layman has been tapped to sit on an NHL bench.

Back in 2003, the Vancouver Canucks found themselves in desperate need of a backup after Dan Cloutier injured his groin during the morning skate.

Backup Johan Hedberg got the start, but with their minor-league affiliate on the other side of the continent, getting third-stringer Alex Auld to Vancouver on time was an impossibility.

Their solution: university student Chris Levesque, the third-string goalie for the UBC Thunderbirds.

Why him? Aside from the fact that he bore a curious resemblance to the Sedins, UBC's starter and backup were on the road with the team. Levesque had stayed behind to study for a chemistry exam. He was in the library when the Canucks got ahold of him.

Canuck fans fondly remember the moment when Hedberg was run over by Konstantin Kolstov and stayed down. Cameras cut to Levesque at the bench, gulping cartoonishly, as Trevor Linden assured him Hedberg would get up.

He did, but it's a shame, because I bet he would have at least been better than Martin Brochu.

Edit: Speaking of Thunderbirds' goalies, Levesque wasn't the only to dress for an NHL game. In January of 2011, the San Jose Sharks found themselves a goalie short just prior to a game in Vancouver versus the Canucks and pulled sophomore Jordan White from the UBC campus to back up Antti Niemi for the night.

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