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NHL emergency goalie rules could be discussed at general managers meeting

After Ayres plays for Hurricanes, EBUG issue may be raised again

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- The emergency backup goalie procedure for NHL games is expected to be discussed at the general managers meetings that begin next week, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said Tuesday.

The emergency backup (EBUG) is in the spotlight again after David Ayres played for the Carolina Hurricanes in a 6-3 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday. The 42-year-old, who drives the ice resurfacing machine at Mattamy Athletic Centre in Toronto and regularly practices with the Maple Leafs, was needed to play at Scotiabank Arena after Hurricanes goalies James Reimer and Petr Mrazek were injured.

"I think it's a fair question," Deputy Commissioner Daly said. "It's something we've given some consideration to over the years. As recently as last year, we discussed [it] with the general managers. It happens very, very rarely, but when it happens, it obviously raises everybody's attention to the issue and whether there are fixes that need to be made to that particular issue."

Ayres made eight saves and became the oldest goalie in NHL history to win his regular-season debut. Daly said there are several factors that could potentially complicate changing the emergency backup goalie rules.

"There's no easy fixes to it," Deputy Commissioner Daly said. "Particularly, we have to work with the [NHL] Players' Association. Who's a player? Who's not a player? What qualifies all of that? But obviously we want what's best for the game, and we want to make sure people aren't putting themselves in danger by playing goal in a National Hockey League game. ... So that's obviously something we have to continue to work through."

The 2019-20 NHL Official Rules say, in part, "In regular League and Playoff games, if both listed goalkeepers are incapacitated, that team shall be entitled to dress and play any available goalkeeper who is eligible."

The last emergency backup to play in an NHL game prior to Ayres was Scott Foster, a 36-year-old accountant who made seven saves for the Chicago Blackhawks against the Winnipeg Jets on March 29, 2018.

NHL general managers begin meetings Monday in Boca Raton, Florida.

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