The Blackhawks played a literal accountant at goalie for the last 10 minutes and change of a 6-2 win against the Jets on Thursday. Scott Foster’s day job is “accountant,” but he stopped all seven shots he saw after a confluence of injuries forced him into action. He made some legitimately nice saves against an actual, playoff-bound NHL team, and it ruled.
Foster is a 36-year-old beer-leaguer, and he got to live out a dream. He’s not the first emergency goalie to ever play minutes for an NHL team — the Hurricanes, at least, played their equipment manager for a few minutes in 2017 — but he’s a pretty rare case. He’s not complaining about the experience, and on some level, he shouldn’t.
“This is something that no one can ever take away from me,” Foster told a throng of reporters after the game. “It’s something that I can go home and tell my kids.”
But the Blackhawks might not pay Foster anything after all.
The NHL has a quirky rule about emergency goaltenders. If a team is short of players at literally any other position, the team just has to suck it up and play. The league doesn’t care if a team has to get through a whole game with 17 skaters, not 18. But teams are expected to dress two goalies for every game, and they can break the league’s 23-man roster limit to make that happen in a pinch. On Thursday, Chicago was in a pinch.
The collective bargaining agreement between the NHL and its players union has contract templates that teams are required to use for emergency goaltender signings like Foster.
The team announced Foster was signed to an amateur tryout contract. The league’s collective bargaining agreement says one-day amateur tryouts can’t get any salary or bonuses.
The #Blackhawks have signed Scott Foster to an ATO today to serve in an emergency backup role.— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) March 30, 2018
Foster, 36, played 4 seasons at @WMUHockey (2002-06), posting a record of 20-22-6 with an .875 save percentage and 3.44 GAA.
The Blackhawks also had the option of signing Foster to a professional tryout agreement. Here’s the form contract text for one of those, per the CBA:
In consideration of the opportunity to play in the NHL, receipt of $500, and the Player being permitted to retain his game-worn jersey, the Player agrees to present himself, upon request of the Club to perform services as a player on [DATE] at [LOCATION].
This agreement shall be valid for a term of one (1) day, and a Club shall only be permitted to enter into such an agreement in accordance with Section 16.14 of the CBA. No additional payment, bonus (of any kind) or any other form of compensation is permitted, other than as provided for herein.
Player certifies that he does not have any current contractual obligation elsewhere. Player further certifies that he has not terminated an existing contractual obligation to meet the foregoing requirement.
Club certifies that it is signing player to this Professional Try-Out Agreement in order to address a last minute injury, illness or League suspension that results in the Club not being able to dress two goaltenders for an NHL Game, and that effectuating a Recall is otherwise impossible (e.g., a Recalled Player could not possibly have arrived in time to participate in the Game due to travel).
So, that’s it: The player gets $500, and he gets to keep the jersey with his name on it. And, hey, that’s great! You could do a lot worse for one day of living a fantasy.
But it seems like the Blackhawks have moved to not pay Foster anything at all.
Adam Burish just asked Scott Foster how much money he got paid tonight.— SCOTT FOSTER CITY HOCKEY (@2ndCityHockey) March 30, 2018
Foster: "Just beer league glory."
Here’s something that might be pretty lame:
The league is selling merchandise with Foster’s name on it:
The link in that tweet goes to a page where you can customize your own Blackhawks gear. The league isn’t actually selling Foster jerseys. But it’s still using the guy’s name to make money, which goes into the big revenue pot the teams share with their players. If it turns out that people buy things under that pretext, it’d be nice if Foster got a piece of it.
( Note: This post initially said that Foster had signed a professional contract agreement, which entitled him to get paid. If the Blackhawks’ announcement of an ATO is accurate, then Foster wouldn’t be allowed to get paid under NHL rules.)