The inside story of the oddity that is the “Emergency Backup” goalie – and why it could soon change

Stu Hackel
Robb Tallas (Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

Among hockey’s great quirks – and there are a few — is that it’s the only pro sport with the potential for someone not on the roster to come out of the stands and actually play in the game. It takes a very rare set of circumstances to open that door and it hasn’t actually happened in the NHL for over 50 years. But the rules permit it.

If both the starting and backup goalies cannot continue, the next in line, according to the rules, can be anyone deemed “qualified” by the league. He could be the team’s goalie coach (and most of them are retired netminders) or virtually anyone who has sufficient experience at the position. It could also be a skater in the game who is brave enough or crazy enough to face enemy fire. Read more

Can the Florida Panthers ride their defense to a playoff spot?

Ryan Kennedy
Erik Gudbranson (left) and Willie Mitchell (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

Willie Mitchell laughs when he’s out in public with Aaron Ekblad and strangers ask if they’re brothers. Technically, the soon-to-be 38-year-old veteran could be the rookie’s father – but actually he’s just his teammate and landlord.

And if the Florida Panthers are going to make the playoffs, both rearguards will play a big role in the team’s success.

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Rangers honor Dan Boyle for reaching 1,000th career NHL game plateau

Surrounded by Rangers teammates and family, Dan Boyle accepts a silver stick to commemorate playing in 1,000 career regular-season NHL games. (Rebecca Taylor/NHLI via Getty Images)

The New York Rangers have more than their share of highly-decorated veteran players on the roster, and the franchise celebrated a major milestone by one of them – blueliner Dan Boyle, who reached the 1,000th career NHL game plateau – with a ceremony prior to Sunday’s game against Florida.

The 36-year-old Boyle, who is in his 15th season and first with the Blueshirts after previous stints with the Panthers, Lightning and Sharks, appeared in Game No. 1,000 on March 4 against the Red Wings to become the 298th player in league history to reach quadruple digits in the games-played department. The Rangers invited Boyle’s family on the ice to watch a commemorative video in his honor and help him receive gifts and thanks from the organization: Read more

Panthers’ Derek MacKenzie dives to score spectacular goal against Winnipeg

Adam Proteau
Derek MacKenzie (Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

Last week, veteran Panthers center Derek MacKenzie made news when he was nearly called upon to play goal for a Florida team that was dealing with two injured netminders. But on Thursday, MacKenzie made the highlight reel for a reason more natural to his position when he scored a spectacular diving goal against the Winnipeg Jets.

The 33-year-old MacKenzie, in his first season with the Panthers after spending the previous seven years in Columbus, threw his body toward the visiting Jets’ net just to get his stick on a phenomenal behind-the-back pass from teammate David Bolland – and he got just enough of the puck to tip it past goalie Michael Hutchinson for the first goal of the night: Read more

Watch the Florida Panthers’ ridiculous ‘Saturday Night Live’ opening

Jared Clinton
Jimmy Hayes (via Florida Panthers/NHL)

Saturday Night Live is in its 40th year, and what better way to celebrate than by having the Florida Panthers pay tribute with their very own SNL-style opening?

Before Florida took the ice Saturday night against the New York Islanders – a game which the Cats won 4-3 – fans were introduced to Jimmy Hayes, Erik Gudbranson and some of the Panthers’ “feature players.” The introductions are made better thanks to the unmistakable imitation of the late, great Don Pardo, SNL’s longtime announcer. Check out the Panthers’ opening credits: Read more

Throwback Thursday re-visits the 1995 Future Watch top 50 list

Brian Costello
Future Watch 1995 photo

The Hockey News has been publishing a special issue dedicated to NHL prospects since the late 1980s. What began as an “In The System” theme issue gave way to Future Watch in 1992. Our first top 50 list of prospects – compiled by canvassing a panel of scouts – appeared in Future Watch 1994 with Paul Kariya as the No. 1 prospect. The following season – 20 years ago – Ed Jovanovski was the chosen one. The headline read:

NHL’s premier prospect no ordinary Jovanovski

In this edition of Throwback Thursday, here’s how that winter, 1995 cover story by Ken Campbell read:

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Panthers’ net drama includes first NHL backup job in 14 years for 41-year-old goalie coach Robb Tallas

Adam Proteau
Robb Tallas (Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Panthers are in a tough battle for one of the final Eastern Conference playoff spots this season, and on Tuesday, they lost 3-2 at home to the lowly Toronto Maple Leafs in a game that saw both Florida goalies lost to injury, the surprise return to uniform of 41-year-old goalie coach Robb Tallas, and a different kind of surprise return late in the contest.

Florida’s goalie woes began when starter Roberto Luongo was hit in the shoulder by a Leo Komarov shot late in the first period and didn’t start the second period. Montoya was between the Panthers’ pipes in Luongo’s stead, but was injured early in the third period on what turned out to be Peter Holland‘s game-winning goal. Yet with Luongo in street clothes and no other options available, Montoya remained in action with severely limited mobility. At the same time, Panthers brass scrambled to get Tallas under an official players contract and in uniform. They were successful:
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Eight NHLers who could break Mike Sillinger’s journeyman record

Jordan Leopold (Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

Mike Sillinger is a name that almost every hockey fan knows, but it’s not for reasons you might think. He didn’t rack up any major accoldes and had a pedestrian career, racking up 240 goals and 548 points in 1,049 games. So, why do people know Sillinger?

It’s because in a 17-year NHL career, Sillinger played for 12 different franchises. For that reason, and that reason alone, his name is synonymous with the idea of an NHL journeyman. Drafted in the first round, 11th overall, by the Detroit Red Wings in 1989, Sillinger went on to suit up for the Red Wings, Ducks, Canucks, Flyers, Lightning, Panthers, Senators, Blue Jackets, Coyotes, Blues, Predators and Islanders. You could say he’s well travelled.

However, even though he played for so many teams, he was only moved at the trade deadline twice in his career, in 1999-00 from Tampa to Florida and the following season from Florida to Ottawa. But thanks to yesterday’s trade deadline, there are now a couple of players who are sneaking up on Sillinger’s NHL record as the player who suited up for the most teams. Read more