Last week was special for the Chicago Blackhawks — and still is. It’s special for all “average Joes” out there.
The National Hockey League team beat the Winnipeg Jets 6-2, but the Blackhawks lost their starting and backup goaltenders — Anton Forsberg and Collin Delia — to injuries in the process.
Enter Scott Foster.
The Blackhawks had no other choice but to play Foster for the last 14 minutes of their bout against the Jets. He was the only person they had available who knew how to play the position.
What made Foster’s NHL debut so special is that not only did he get to play in the league — he played surprisingly well.
Foster recorded seven saves on seven shots directed his way.
Granted, he didn’t exactly look like an NHL goaltender; he was a body to stick out in front of the net, and he was able to protect a four-goal lead.
For a team that was eliminated from playoff contention about a month and a half ago, seeing Foster play well might have been the most exciting thing for fans in a long time.
After all, he was receiving cheers from a crowd of over 20,000 fans, according to USA Today.
“A few hours ago I was sitting on the computer typing on a 10-key,” Foster told reporters after the win. “Now I’m standing in front of you guys having just finished 14 and a half minutes of NHL hockey.”
Although his NHL debut was highly unlikely, Foster is no novice to the sport. He played Division 1 college hockey for Western Michigan University from 2002 to 2006. During his career there, he went 20-22-6 with an .875 save percentage and 3.44 goals allowed per game.
Currently, he also plays for a couple of “beer league” teams. In all likelihood, though, his NHL stats may end up better than his stats in any other league than he has played in, for a couple of reasons.
First of all, the Blackhawks will likely call up minor-league goaltenders to fill the voids left on their team by injury, if necessary.
Plus, his career save percentage in the NHL is 1.000 and his goals allowed per game is 0.00.
Foster was not the first average Joe to play in an NHL game, either. Carolina Hurricanes equipment manager and former U.S. Marine Jorge Alves ended up playing 7.6 seconds of a game last season because he spent a game as his team’s backup goaltender.
Most NHL teams have an emergency backup goaltender who lives locally on retainer. For example, Massachusetts State Trooper Keith Segee practices with the Bruins on occasion in case they ever need him for a game, according to NESN. The police officer had a brief Division 3 college hockey career over a decade ago and plays for the Massachusetts State Police hockey team.
In none of the other three major pro sports leagues in America (MLB, NFL, NBA) is there a phenomenon quite like this — where ordinary people have a chance to get paid to play against the best athletes the world has to offer. This is something that makes the NHL unique.
Foster now has quite the story to tell his friends and family.
The league gave Scott Foster an opportunity to live out his childhood dream last week, and he made the most of that opportunity. He likely won’t play in another game; however, he does have quite the story to tell his friends and family from this point on.
Tom Joyce is a freelance writer from the South Shore of Massachusetts. He covers sports, pop culture, and politics and has contributed to The Federalist, Newsday, ESPN, and other outlets.
(photo credit, homepage and article images: NHL)