Paul Deutsch got to live every hockey fan’s dream this past Wednesday when the 51-year-old print shop owner received an unexpected call from the Minnesota Wild.
The Wild signed Deutsch to an amateur tryout contract to serve as an emergency backup to starter Josh Harding for Wednesday’s game against the Nashville Predators. With regular No. 1 netminder Niklas Backstrom out for undisclosed personal reasons, the Wild called Houston Aeros’ netminder Matt Hackett. However, due to logistical issues, it was uncertain whether Hackett would make the game. That was when the Wild made an emergency call and made a beer leaguer’s dream come true.
Wearing a pair of former Wild goaltender Manny Fernandez’s pads, Deutsch participated in pregame warmups.
“Pretty nervous and I just want to make sure I don’t do anything stupid,” Deutsch said. “Stay out of their way and do what I’m supposed to do, give Harding a break when he needs one and let the guys fire away.”
Unfortunately, that’s as close to the game as Deutsch would get. However, he was probably relieved that he got to watch the Wild win their fifth straight game from a suite rather than at ice level.
“Another goaltending controversy there, if he got in there, who knows,” Wild coach Mike Yeo joked after the game. “It’s great for him and he handled it great. Guys really enjoyed having him in there.”