In yesterday's 5-1 win over Ottawa, there were the returns of bigtime players like Sergei Fedorov, Alexander Semin, and Mike Green. But, ironically, they were overshadowed by a much more interesting story.
In what sounds like something out of a movie at first, Brett Leonhardt, the team site's Web producer from Waterloo, Ontario, was asked by GM George McPhee to suit up for the Capitals game because goaltender Jose Theodore had a hip flexor injury during the team's morning practice and third-string goalie Simeon Varlamov had a delayed flight and couldn't arrive for the beginning of the game.
So, the Capitals were granted permission from the NHL to dress three goaltenders for the game, and the rest is history.
Although Leonhardt's brief "career" as an NHL backup only lasted about 30 minutes, I am sure the memories will last a lifetime.
The funny thing is that the odds of Leonhardt actually playing weren't that bad, considering Johnson has been battling a hip injury for the past month and was sore even during the warmup.
"Before the game, (the players) were telling me, 'Be yourself. You've been doing this your whole life,'" he told NHL.com. "They made me feel really comfortable. In the warmup, I didn't want them to not shoot their hardest because it was me. I tried to challenge them—get them ready for the game.
"(The players) were awesome. They couldn't have been better. I've practiced a couple times with the team, so the guys were familiar with me, and I travel with the team because I do the Web site. The guys were cheering and high-fiving me."
But, sadly, his career was short-lived, as Varlamov was dressed and ready about 10 minutes into the game.
"For a while, I was hoping he would hurry up because there were some goaltender interference calls," Leonhardt said. "When I saw him, the first thought was, 'Good, he's here,' because you think about the team first. After that it was, 'Aw, it's over.'"
After his spot was taken on the bench, he had to go right back to work in the press box, videotaping the game, even making the media wait so he could finish his job.
The funnier thing about this situation is that if the 26-year-old had played, he would have broke a record. Well, tied it, as the tallest goaltender in NHL history, which St. Louis Blues goaltender Ben Bishop currently holds, standing at 6'7".
But even though he didn't break any NHL records or make any money, being able to say that he was an NHL player for one day is more valuable than any amount of money the Capitals could have payed him.
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