Calling All Goalies: Florida Panthers Looking for Practice Goalie

By Ellen Chlumecky

March 10, 2015

On Thursday, March 5, the Florida Panthers announced that they will be holding open tryouts for any goalies or even fans to be hired as their practice goalie for one day. This whole experience is a contest proposed by the Panthers. The Panthers executive chairman Peter Luukko is hopeful the contest expects a great turnout for such an amazing ultimate fan experience. Successful applicants will invited to a tryout on March 16th. Two finalists will then go head-to-head during an intermission of Florida’s game against Montreal on March 17th. The winner will then get a contract.

This is a dream come true for any aspiring goalie that never got the opportunity to make it to the big leagues or even a fan whose dream is to experience what it’s like to play in the NHL. So what inspired this somewhat unusual contest? If you weren’t watching the Florida Panthers and Toronto Maple Leafs game, you might have some insight on what inspired the contest.

During the game, both Panthers’ goalies – Roberto Luongo and Al Montoya – suffered injuries. Not having another backup goalie, the goalie coach for the Panthers had to quickly suit up to serve as the backup. Robert Tallas last played against the New York Rangers in 2001.

In the first period, Luongo was injured by a shot from Maple Leafs forward Leo Komarov. He stayed in a game till the end of the period. Then he was replaced by Al Montoya. Early on in the second, Montoya gets injured as well. This meant that the Panthers were without a healthy goalie.

It was believed that Derek MacKenzie and Scottie Upshall might dress as emergency goalies as they both went down the tunnel to the locker room while Montoya was struggling on the ice. Luongo was also seen in the tunnel in street clothes as they were trying to figure out who was going to be put in. However, the person who ended up suiting up was Tallas. Two years prior he was put in the same situation so it was not too unusual to ask of him.

At the end of the day, Montoya attempted to play through his injury until Luongo suited up again to finish the game. The team was trying to get Tallas cleared by the NHL to play in the game but during this process, they realized that Luongo would just have to finish off the game.

It’s unfortunate that a hectic and panic-inducing event had to occur for the Panthers, especially since they ended up losing 3-2 in spite of the situation. In the end, they got a great promotional deal out of the event. So I guess it’s about looking at the glass half full, right?

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