When the stars align, and you are reading the very chapter covering the David Ayres game in Odd Man In: Hockey’s Emergency Goalies and the Wildest One-Day Job in Sports by Stephen Whyno on the anniversary of the game, you write a book review.
No one is getting called out of the left field bleachers at Wrigley Field to pitch the top half of the 9th inning in a 1-1 game for the Cubs. The water boy for Panthers (despite Adam Sandler’s best efforts) is not going to record a 5 sack game in the Super Bowl.
But some how, hockey has created for itself one of the most exciting, nerve racking, and interesting situations in sports. The Emergency Back Up Goalie. EBUGs are the guys called out of the stands to close out the game, and bask in the spotlight we all dream about as kids playing whatever sport in our backyards.
EBUGs, in the history of hockey, are a new invention evolved by the NHL and created out of failed attempts to answer the question “What happens if both our goalies go down?” Originally, as rules mandated, goalies would have to serve penalties and position players would tend the net as de facto goalies without the gear.
In the 60’s that rule faded from the game. Still teams had one goalie, and no good way to substitute if that single goalie went down with an injury. The NHL eventually allowed teams to carry two netminders. With every solution comes another problem. What happens if BOTH goalies leave the game?
Teams have sought a variety of solutions including try outs to wait on stand by, college players, or in the case of Carolina Hurricanes celebrity David Ayres, a Zamboni driver who had been playing beer league the night before.
Stephen Whyno dives into this, the wildest of one day jobs in his book, with a flare that matches the thrill of the situation. From the accountant who had dropped his kids off at school, to the one time college goalie giving his kids a bath when the call to suit up came in, Whyno tells the crazy backstories of the guys who got to live out a dream for just one night.
Carolina Hurricanes play-by-play announcer Mike Maniscalco mentioned this book was on his reading list during his podcast The Canes Cast, and I immediately requested it at the Wake County Public Library.
As soon as it came in, I finished what I was reading, and rushed out to pick up a copy before the waitlist got too long. I have since devoured it in just a few sittings. One of which was on the anniversary (February 22nd) of the famed David Ayres game in which Ayres came in as the EBUG for the Carolina Hurricanes in Toronto against The Maple Leafs.
Even if you are not a hockey fan, this is the kind of all the sports history any sports fan will want to know more about. You are bound to impress more than a few folks at the bar with your knowledge of EBUG after reading this one.
Stephen Whyno captivatingly writes a full length book that gives you not only the back stories of a select few people who have suited up as EBUGs and played, but the zany stories of all the near misses since the advent of the position.
Give Odd Man In: Hockey’s Emergency Goalies and the Wildest One-Day Job in Sports by Stephen Whyno a shot. You will not regret it!
And if you are looking for more hockey books to read, take a look at my book review of “This is Russia: Life in the KHL – Doctors, bazas and millions of air miles” by Bernd Bruckler and Risto Pakarinen*