Definition of Emergency Goalie

What does the term "emergency goalie" mean in the world of hockey and the NHL? What is an "emergency goalie"?

Last week, the sports world revelled in the story of David Ayres, the 42 year-old Zamboni driver who was called into action to play in a NHL game.

This article covers the meaning of the trending hockey term Emergency Goalie.  What is it?To make the story even crazier, Ayres scored the victory, as the Hurricanes defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs by a score of 6-3. The game was broadcast nationally in Canada, and Ayres became a star, appearing on late-night talk shows and morning news shows.

The question is: how did Ayres, a 42 year-old with no professional playing experience, end up in a NHL game?

The answer lies in NHL's Rule 5.3, which states that teams are able to dress anybody as their goaltender if both goaltenders are incapacitated.

If one goaltender is unable to play for some reason, NHL clubs are allowed to dress anybody as their "emergency goalie" to sit on the bench. In most cases, teams will simply call up a goalie from their affiliate team to serve as the back-up, though if a goalie is injured during a game or suffers some sort of sudden illness, teams may not have that luxury.

If both goaltenders (the starter and the back-up) get injured shortly before or during a game, the "emergency goaltender" can be called into play, which is what happened with David Ayres. In some cases, the emergency goaltender will simply sit on the bench, and in other cases, they will be called into the game.

Emergency goaltenders can be practically anybody - team employees, former players, college players, etc. In fact, non-goaltenders are also eligible to put on the goalie pads and play if both of the goalies are injured.