Pretty crazy development out of Minnesota, where it was recently announced that goalie Niklas Backstrom willl miss tonight’s game against Nashville for personal reasons.
That means Josh Harding will get the start in goal — but who will back him up?
Matt Hackett is the starting goalie for Minnesota’s AHL affiliate in Houston, but he’s still en route to the Twin Cities. As Wild.com notes, “he’s not expected to touch down on the biggest travel day of the year until about 6:30. That means the likelihood that he’s here for warmups is very small and he may even miss part of the first period.”
Yikes. That’s a problem.
But alas, a solution! The Wild have enlisted the services of 51-year-old Paul Deutsch, who runs a screen printing and embroidery store in nearby Richfield. As per NHL rules, Minnesota’s not allowed to sign a goalie with professional experience, so Deutsch signed his ATO (amateur try-out) contract today.
Deutsch is no stranger to the Wild. As a good friend of former assistant Mike Ramsey, Deutsch has been used in many Wild practices when one of the top goalies gets an off day.
While he can hold his own in practices, Deutsch was not even a goaltender growing up. According to Ramsey, he started playing in his thirties.
Coincidentally, Deutsch was already going to be at the game tonight as a fan, along with a youth hockey team he was accompanying.
This isn’t the first time something like this has happened. The Caps once signed their website editor as an emergency goalie and the Canucks gave a third-string university goalie an ATO contract when they were in a pinch.
Of course, neither of those two ran his own embroidery and screening company. Deutsch should really take advantage of this opportunity by making a bunch of “I was signed by the Minnesota Wild and all I got was this lousy t-shirt” shirts.