Paul Deutsch is a 51-year-old Minnesota man who runs a modest screen-printing and embroidery company in the Minneapolis area. On Wednesday nights, he usually tends the crease in a beer league at the Bloomington Ice Arena.
This week, though, he'll have slightly different plans, and he'll be strapping on the pads and standing in the crease in a slightly larger building. Due to personal reasons, Minnesota Wild starting goaltender Niklas Backstrom will not be in uniform tonight. Josh Harding will fill in for him with the starting gig, but Deutsch will be the man ready for the call should something happen to Harding.
The Minnesota Wild are dressing a 51-year-old as their backup goaltender this Thanksgiving Eve.
This isn't totally uncommon. Emergency goalies are needed on occasion in the NHL, and they usually come from absolutely bizarre places. We all remember Brett Leonhardt, the guy who ran the Capitals website and also sat on the bench for a period a few years back.
But Leonhardt was 26 and had played goal at the Division III level in college. He played some junior hockey as well. Deutsch? Well, he didn't start playing goal in his beer league until he was in his 30s. Via the Wild:
Deutsch is no stranger to the Wild, however. As a good friend of former assistant Mike Ramsey, Deutsch has been used in many Wild practices when one of the top goalies gets an off day.
While he can hold his own in practices, Deutsch was not even a goaltender growing up. According to Ramsey, he started playing in his thirties. The guy is 51 years old and will wear number 33.
AHL goaltender Matt Hackett is en route to Minnesota from the Houston Aeros, but the chances of him landing at the airport at 6:30 p.m. CT, getting his luggage on one of the busiest travel nights of the year and getting to Xcel Energy Center in time for the game are slim.
He could replace Deutsch on the bench midway through the game, but at the very least, we're going to get to hear about a 51-year-old goalie taking warmups in the NHL tonight.