A couple times in the last few weeks, the Blackhawks have been on “EBUG Alert.” EBUG, for those who might not be aware, stands for Emergency Back-Up Goalie — the guys who sit downstairs just in case a team loses both of their active netminders during a game.
The Blackhawks had a famous EBUG moment in 2018, when Scott Foster came in to relieve Collin Delia in net. With both Corey Crawford and Anton Forsberg out, Delia made his NHL debut, but got hurt. So Foster, an accountant by day, came in and did a terrific job against Winnipeg and has been included in presenting the Vezina Trophy and Blackhawks Conventions ever since.
For what it’s worth, when Petr Mrazek left the Blackhawks’ home opener on Oct. 21, Luke Richardson apparently didn’t know who his EBUG might have been! So I did some digging, and have since been told that Foster was on duty that night. So we were *this close* to having multiple appearances from one EBUG — that would have been legendary.
A new book by Stephen Whyno titled Odd Man In: Hockey’s Emergency Goalies and the Wildest One-Day Job in Sports is a wonderful, sometimes hilarious, incredibly detailed look at how the EBUG happens.
I spoke with Whyno recently about putting the book together. I’ve read about half of it and I have to be honest (and I said this to Stephen when we were chatting): it reads like fan fiction. It really does! The idea that you’re a rec league player who sits in the family room downstairs just in case a dozen times per season or so and then all of a sudden you’re on the ice in front of 18-20,000 fans is about as ridiculous as it gets.
Whyno went deep into the call-ins of Foster, Jorge Alves, Tom Hodges and arguably the most famous, David Ayers. The book includes details you couldn’t even hope to imagine from executives, coaches and sudden NHL “teammates” remembering the most unlikely scenario in all of professional sports: a guy off the street gets into a game.
Not many people remember that Carter Hutton was once an EBUG who turned his tryout to be an emergency backup into a career. Hutton, who appeared in 94 games with the IceHogs between the 2011-12 and ’12-13 seasons, went on to play in 234 regular-season games in the NHL for five franchises, most recently the Coyotes last year.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Like I said before, there are elements of it that really, honestly read like fan fiction. Whyno does a great job of telling the stories of the individuals but also detailing the process someone goes through to get on the list that Foster was on that fateful night when his number was called at the United Center.
Hopefully with Mrazek back off IR and Arvid Söderblom appearing to be healthy the Blackhawks can get through a couple games in California without paying for Dylan Wells to make a last-minute trip (again).