Goalies, Facial Hair and Heroes –Cagle
In the movie “Field of Dreams,” Archibald “Moonlight” Graham described his 15 minutes of fame in professional baseball as “...like coming this close to your dreams, and then watching them brush past you like strangers in a crowd.”
Well, at least Archie Graham had the opportunity to play an inning in the outfield for the New York Giants just after the turn of the 20th century. Paul Deutsch didn’t even make it to the national anthem after being signed by the NHL’s Minnesota Wild as an emergency goalie on Nov. 23.
But it’s doubtful that his dreams were shattered: Deutsch spends much of his time running a screen printing shop in a St. Paul, MN, suburb. At age 51, the NHL dream had long since set sail for a guy who hadn’t played in a competitive league since the Carter Administration. However, Deutsch was roughly 10-15 minutes away from dressing for the Wild.
For those unfamiliar with pro hockey, teams will, from time to time, sign an emergency goalie in case of an injury to the starter or backup netminder (NHL rules do not allow teams to sign players with pro experience). The Wild lost backup goalie Niklas Backstrom for the Thanksgiving Eve game and, since there was no guarantee that minor league recall Matt Hackett would make it to the arena in time, in stepped Deutsch.
No, Deutsch wasn’t discovered by a scout or player. He is a good friend of a former Wild assistant coach and has been used as a fill-in at Minnesota practices. So, when Backstrom couldn’t answer the bell, Deutsch was summoned. He even participated in pregame warmups.
With the crazy holiday airline scenario, and his flight not scheduled to arrive until 6:30 p.m., Hackett was almost certain to miss the start. Cue “Vesti La Giubba” as Hackett arrives just minutes before the 7 p.m. puck drop. Deutsch was scratched from the game.