Last night fans of the National Hockey League were treated to one of the most amazing moments of the season when an emergency backup goalie named David Ayres was unexpectedly and suddenly thrown into the spotlight. Ayres, who will now forever be known to fans of the NHL as the "Zamboni goalie" was forced to suit up and step in for the Carolina Hurricanes after the Hurricanes lost both of their goaltenders before the second period came to a close.
The Hurricanes, who were playing the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night, actually started the game with a former Maple Leafs goaltender in net. It was none other than James Reimer getting the start for the Canes but the former Leaf wouldn't even last 20 minutes against his former team, leaving very early due to what we know know is a relatively serious lower body injury. That meant that Hurricanes goaltender Petr Mrazek had to step in and finish out the game, but that would quickly end in disaster for the Hurricanes as well. Mrazek attempted to come way out of his net during the second period to make a play on the puck, only to get obliterated by a streaking Kyle Clifford who was also trying to race Mrazek to the puck. The collision looked more like a car crash than it did a hockey play and unsurprisingly that would spell the end of Mrazek's night, forcing Ayres to step in and play.
It was a rough start for Ayres who let in 2 goals on the first 2 shots that he faced, but he would then settle down and would not allow another goal for the rest of the night. It is fair to suggest that the Toronto Maple Leafs made it easy on him by generating very few shots, even failing to generate a single shot over the course of a full 2 minute power play at one point, but nonetheless Ayres held firm and eventually led the Hurricanes to a very important win for their playoff hopes. It was a feel good story all around, albeit an extremely frustrating one for Leafs' fans, however it sounds like not every is happy with the way things turned out.
Following the game former Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke made comments on Hockey Night in Canada that left no doubt about how he felt regarding the situation. Burke, speaking during his regular "To The Point" segment, made it clear that he felt the fact that a 42 year old Zamboni driver was the man stepping in was "embarrassing for the National Hockey League." No doubt those comments will be very unpopular with fans of the league, especially those who tuned in and watched this one play out live, but Burke made it sound like he was getting his information from sources within the National Hockey League. It will come as no surprise to anyone to learn that Brian Burke is extremely well connected within the National Hockey League and he strongly hinted at the fact that there were already internal discussions within the NHL to make sure a moment like this will never happen again in the future.