Minding the Net

Photo courtesy of ivanomak
Jose Theodore, courtesy of Ivan Makarov

I watch hockey. A lot. So when stuff happens that seems unusual, I’m not entirely phased. Tonight, however? Yeah, totally amusingly unusual and worth posting here.

My friends and I were engrossed in Boston’s ugly beat down of Atlanta tonight before we switched to Chicago’s eventual win over Colorado when we got wind of the ‘unusual’ over at the Caps game.

We’d heard that Theodore went down with a hip injury (or is that a “mid-body injury,” to use the NHL’s new method of reporting boo-boos?) earlier in the day and that Brent Johnson – he of the hot glove hand lately – would be in the net against the Senators. The NHL Network had been reporting Sergei Varlamov’s call-up to back up Johnson, so what was all the buzz about?

Lo and behold, Varlamov was going to be running late flying in from Houston where his other team – the Hershey Bears – was on the road and wouldn’t make the start of the game. Yeah, I know, it doesn’t sound unusual. Yet.

See, every team needs to have two goalies in the lineup for the game. (Not three, though, but the team got special dispensation from the League to dress three for the evening, due to the circumstances.) With Theodore a definite no-go, the Caps didn’t have a backup plan…or did they?

Enter Brent Leonhardt, the Washington Capitals…web site producer. He’s the guy who posts the videos to the team’s official site. And, apparently, the backup-backup emergency goalie for the team. He signed an amateur contract earlier in the day; GM George McPhee was clearly thinking things through ahead of time.

Now, Brent’s got some background as a goalie – it’s not like they just picked a guy at random up in the team offices. He played a couple of years for SUNY Oswego and two years for Neumann College, near Philly. He even racked up a 13-2-2 record during his tenure. So tapping him as an emergency backup while Varlamov zipped over from his late-arriving plane (and dressing in the car – that had to be a site to see!) wasn’t exactly a bad idea.

Brent sat on the bench for about half of the first period before Sergei arrived to take his place. While I’m sure he would’ve been fine in the net if Johnson had gone down (or shelled, like poor Ondrej Pavalec was in the Thrasher net tonight), it’s reassuring that McPhee proved once again he had everything under control.

So congrats to Brent Leonhardt for his “first” NHL game as a Capital. Hope it was everything you thought it’d be and more!

Wonder if they made him finish the game back up in his cube?

Having lived in the DC area for ten years, Ben still loves to wander the city with his wife, shooting lots of photos and exploring all the latest exhibits and galleries. A certified hockey fanatic, he spends some time debating the Washington Capitals club with friends – but everyone knows of his three decade love affair with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

A professional writer, gamer, photographer, and Lego enthusiast, Ben remains captivated by DC and doesn’t plan on leaving any time soon.

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One thought on “Minding the Net

  1. Ya he had to go back to work according to NHL.com:

    “I had to do my job after that,” Leonhardt said in a phone interview with NHL.com that took place after his Web work was done. “I didn’t get the night off.”