Washington Capitals video coach Brett Leonhardt can rest easy today after being the surprise emergency backup last night.
The Caps recalled goalie Philipp Grubauer from AHL Hershey on an emergency basis to back up Braden Holtby when they face the New York Islanders on Long Island tonight. Michal Neuvirth was injured during warmups yesterday which forced the team to dress their video coach, former Division-III college goalie Leonhardt, as the backup.
Grubauer is another in the line of hot goalie prospects that have come out of the Capitals system in recent years. Starting with Semyon Varlamov and moving along to Neuvirth and Holtby, the 22-year-old’s stay with the team could wind up being longer than expected if Neuvirth is out for a while.
The team also recalled defenseman Dmitry Orlov and sent forward Michael Latta down. This is Orlov’s fifth recall to the team since the end of October. He has yet to play in a game for the Caps and has demanded a trade.
Coyotes fans are going to be saying an extra prayer to the hockey deity of their choice tonight hoping that tonight’s surprise starting goalie Jason LaBarbera doesn’t get hurt. LaBarbera is getting the nod because Ilya Bryzgalov is suddenly out sick. Every hockey team needs to suit up two goalies and with the Coyotes farm team being located in San Antonio, Texas they didn’t have any time to bring someone in from the AHL to play.
Enter Tom Fenton.
Tom Fenton is a former four-year player at American International College in Springfield, Massachusetts. They’re not a hockey powerhouse by any means, but Fenton working in the office of community relations at nearby Manhattanville College makes him the perfect candidate to sign an emergency one-day contract with the Coyotes to back up LaBarbera.
If this situation sounds familiar, it’s because we’ve seen it happen to two teams recently. The Capitals famously hired out web staffer and former Division III NCAA goalie Brett Leonhardt for a day to be the backup goalie on an emergency basis. The 6’7″ Leonhardt got to live the dream and dress for a night but his night wasn’t as adventurous as it was for Penguins goalie-for-a-day Alexander Pechursky.
Pechursky was signed out of the WHL on an emergency basis for a night while the the Penguins were in Vancouver back in January. With Marc-Andre Fleury and Brent Johnson both out, AHL goalie John Curry was all they had to run with out west so Pechursky got the emergency call. The Penguins proceeded to get blown out with Curry giving up five goals on 14 shots and Pechursky got the call to take over for Curry, a moment the youngster isn’t likely to forget anytime soon.
Will Fenton have to face up to a similar onslaught? We’d hope not as LaBarbera is an NHL veteran now, but if he does get the call to play at all he gets to make his debut on the ice at Madison Square Garden and become the
first American International College alum to play in the NHL (edit: Thanks to Doug Stotz for e-mailing us to tell us that Dave Forbes who played in the 1970s with the Bruins and Capitals was the first AIC alum to play in the NHL. Our apologies on making the oversight).
We’re not rooting for LaBarbera to have a bad game and certainly not to suffer an injury, but it’d be a lot of fun to see a guy get to live his dream and face the Rangers in MSG. It’s got a “Mystery, Alaska” kind of feel to it and if you don’t like that sort of story, I don’t know what kind of person you are.