Ryan Miller Trade Forces Sabres And Blues To Dress Phony NHL Goalies

Mar 1 2014, 9:13am CST | by

In the first big deal before the NHL trade deadline, the Buffalo Sabres shipped goalie Ryan Miller and forward Steve Ott to the St. Louis Blues for goalie Jaroslav Halak, forward Chris Stewart, prospect William Carrier, a first-round draft pick in 2015 and a third-round pick in 2016.

The deal left both teams without a backup goalie. No big deal, you say? After all, goalies rarely get hurt. But the fact is NHL rules stipulate that teams have a backup goaltender in the lineup–dressed and ready to play.

The rule makes sense.  You don’t want goalies playing injured because their team doesn’t have a backup on the bench. It’s bad for the goalie, bad for his team and unfair to the paying fans. And you also don’t want the team to use a player who doesn’t know the position to tend the net because he could get badly hurt and also embarrass his team. Backups, good for the players, fans and league.

But last night both the Sabres and Blues were unprepared for the trade and with both teams playing games last night they each had non-hockey players on the bench as backup goalies to meet the league’s requirement. The Sabres used a member of their video department who played college hockey, and the Blues dressed a staff equipment guy who sometimes plays goalie for Anaheim Ducks practices.

This isn’t the first time that an emergency backup was used in the NHL this season. Rob Laurie, 43, was signed for a game by the Vancouver Canucks after an injury to Roberto Luongo. None of the backups had to be used.

But the league needs to either change the rule to make it serious–a real professional goalie must be on the bench–or eliminate it altogether. No offense to the video and equipment guys, but their insertion into the lineups last night made a mockery of the spirit of the rule, the  NHL and its supporters.

Source: Forbes Business


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