14 minutes of fame

In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.

—Andy Warhol

It seems the renowned Mr. Warhol was off by one minute. At least in the case of Scott Foster, a Chicago-area accountant who plays goal in a men’s recreational hockey league.

At every game in the National Hockey League, the home team is required to supply an emergency goaltender. Since every team has two goalies to begin with, a starter and a backup, the emergency goalie’s job normally consists of sitting in the press box and munching on free food supplied by the catering staff.

This season, Foster was one of the emergency goalies on the list of the Chicago Blackhawks, sitting in at about a dozen of their home games. Last night, in a game against the Winnipeg Jets, lightning struck.

The Blackhawks have not been blessed with good fortune in the net this year. Corey Crawford, their Stanley-Cup-winning starter, has been out since December with ‘vertigo-like symptoms’ from an ‘upper body injury’. (NHL team doctors are paid to be vague when talking to the press.) The Number Two man, Anton Forsberg, went down with a freak injury during the warm-up before last night’s game and is also out for the rest of the season. That left third-stringer Collin Delia to start the game, and Scott Foster to sit in the backup’s spot on the bench.

Then, with 14 minutes and one second to go in the game, Delia had to leave the ice because of severe cramps. At age 36, thirteen years after his last college game, Foster had to face NHL shooters for the first time in his life. And not just any shooters: the Jets have some of the best scoring talent in the league. On average, an NHL goalie faces about 30 shots per game and gives up a goal one time in 12. Foster faced seven shots and stopped them all. With the crowd chanting, ‘Foster! Foster!’, the Blackhawks beat the Jets 6–2, and the emergency goalie was named first star of the game.

For his night‘s work, he receives a $500 stipend, the jersey he wore in the game, and the memory of a lifetime for a beer-league hockey player. Andy Warhol still owes him 59 seconds.

You never can tell when fame will show up uninvited. When the doorbell rings, don’t forget to answer.

Scott Foster stops Jets star Paul Stastny at point-blank range. (AP Photo)

 

A blessed Good Friday to all.

Comments

  1. I’m not even a hockey fan and you are such a good storyteller…this was great.

  2. It’s the kind of thing that would seem contrived in a movie, but then life is quite often like that.

  3. antares says:

    Betcha Hollywood is banging on his door for the movie rights.

  4. I liked the story of the utility man last year originally getting all star votes as a prank, which turned into a feel good story, which finished at awesome when he became the all-star game MVP after scoring two goals.

    Movie stuff indeed.

    Meanwhile my NJ Devils are in a dogfight, but fighting they are! Fun hockey.

  5. Nicholas Arkison says:

    “On average, an NHL goalie faces about 30 shots per game and gives up a goal one time in 12.”

    I think the inclusion of this statistic raises more questions than it answers. I gather that it’s calculated over all NHL goalies, of whatever string, who appear on the ice against all NHL teams of whatever ranking. In which case, it doesn’t really tell me how many points, in a group of seven potential goals, may be expected to be given up by a third-stringer facing “some of the best scoring talent in the league”. Am I to infer that, once Foster went on, the Jets were statistically all but certain to make the 4+ points in 14 minutes that they would have needed to break the Blackhawks’ lead, and that Foster’s success in keeping them at 2 was one for the record books? I could easily believe that, but the phrasing here doesn’t make it as clear to me as it seems to be meant to.

    • I included that statistic for context. An average NHL goalie might or might not have let in a goal in those 14 minutes. A poor one almost certainly would have let in a goal, especially against a team that was trying very hard to catch up in the game.

      For perspective, there was a charity game here recently, involving a mix of NHL and amateur players, in which a local radio host (who also plays goal in an amateur league) was one of the goalies. He made one save – in the entire game. It’s truly remarkable that a man who hasn’t played competitive hockey in 13 years, and never played against NHL opposition, should make seven saves in a row.

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