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Website producer dresses briefly as backup goalie for Washington Capitals

NHL.com @NHL

WASHINGTON - A six-foot-seven website producer for the Washington Capitals dressed as the team's backup goalie for Friday night's game against the Ottawa Senators because of an injury to Jose Theodore.

Brett Leonhardt, a Division III goalie in college, signed an amateur tryout contract before the game. If he had actually played, he would've tied Ben Bishop of the St. Louis Blues as the tallest goalie ever to play in an NHL game.

Theodore suffered a hip flexor injury during the Capitals' morning skate, and Simeon Varlamov was recalled from Hershey, the team's AHL affiliate, to back up starter Brent Johnson.

But Hershey happened to be on the road in San Antonio, and Varlamov didn't arrive in time for the opening faceoff.

So the Capitals received special dispensation from the league to dress three goaltenders. Leonhardt had a spot on the bench until Varlamov arrived midway through the first period.

Although he didn't play, Leonhardt - whose nickname is, you guessed it, "Stretch" - certainly enjoyed what had to be thrill of his life when he skated with the team during pre-game warmups. Wearing No. 80, he fended off shots from superstar Alex Ovechkin and others as he stood in goal at the Verizon Center.

During the first half of the first, he sat at the end of the bench in a white baseball cap. He looked down sheepishly when shown he was shown on the huge replay screen along with the caption: "1st NHL game." The crowd roared.

The crowd cheered again later in the period when Varlamov - also new to the big league - was shown on the screen along with the same caption.

Leonhardt, 26, played two years for Oswego State in New York and two years for Neumann College in Pennsylvania before graduating in 2007. He has worked for the Capitals' website for about a year and has taken part in drills during practices when the team needed an extra goalie.

His chances of playing Friday weren't exactly remote. Johnson had a sore hip from a fall during Wednesday night's victory over the Boston Bruins.

The Capitals also re-assigned forward Oskar Osala and defenceman Sean Collins to Hershey.

It's a similar situation to the one faced by the Vancouver Canucks in December 2003. After starter Dan Cloutier suffered a groin injury just before a home game against Pittsburgh, the Canucks were forced to call up Chris Levesque - the third-string goalie from the University of British Columbia.

He was on the ice for warmups and backed up Johan Hedberg, but never appeared in the game. Levesque returned to his university team the next day.

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