Josh Harding

Ho-Hum: Minnesota signs 51-year-old embroidery store owner as backup goalie


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 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.

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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.

Ducks name Kesler alternate captain

Ryan Kesler
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For the second time in his career, Ryan Kesler is wearing an “A.”

On Thursday, the Anaheim Ducks announced that Kesler would serve as one of the club’s alternate captains this season, taking over for Francois Beauchemin, who signed in Colorado this summer.

With the move, Kesler joins Anaheim’s existing leadership group of captain Ryan Getzlaf, and alternate Corey Perry.

“It’s an honor,” Kesler said, per the Ducks. “It’s special. I’m going to wear it with pride and lead by example.”

As mentioned earlier, Kesler has some experience as an alternate — he wore an “A” in Vancouver from 2008-13, but had it removed prior to the start of the ’13-14 campaign.

It’s not surprising Anaheim went in this direction. GM Bob Murray made a huge investment in Kesler this summer by inking the 31-year-old to a six-year, $41.25M extension.

Diaz could leave Rangers for Europe

Raphael Diaz, Mike Sislo
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Could Raphael Diaz be on his way back to Switzerland?

We’ll know in a month.

Diaz, who lost out on the Rangers’ final blueline spot in training camp, has reported to the club’s AHL affiliate in Hartford but doesn’t seem pleased with his current situation, per the Post:

The 29-year-old Diaz, who cleared waivers last Saturday after the Blueshirts opted to keep rookie Dylan McIlrath as the club’s seventh on the blue line, is interested in the European option if he is not in the NHL.

The Blueshirts have told Diaz they will revisit the situation at the end of October, but have not promised to release him or assign him to a European team at that point.

If Diaz, a Swiss native who represented Switzerland in the 2014 Olympics, does play in Europe during the season, he would have to go through waivers in order to return to the NHL.

Diaz’s agent, Ritch Winter, told the Post that Diaz signed a one-year, $700,000 deal with the Rangers “to play with the Rangers.”

And it’s understandable if Diaz — a journeyman offensive defenseman — isn’t happy with this situation.

While some believe McIlrath earned his roster spot on merit, some think it’s because of his contract status. McIlrath, who’s only 23 and a former first-round pick, would’ve needed to clear waivers to go back to Hartford, and it’s believed he would’ve been claimed by another club.