We've heard of emergency backup goaltenders getting famous (see: David Ayres last month), but what about already-famous people serving as emergency backup goaltenders? That'll be the case in Colorado this weekend with former MLB outfielder Larry Walker set to serve as an honorary emergency backup for the Avalanche-Golden Knights game on Sunday.
Walker, who was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame earlier this year, will be honored by the Avalanche as part of a pregame ceremony at Pepsi Center. Then, he'll have to prepare for the possibility of suiting up on the off-chance that a goaltender gets injured during the game.
A native of Vancouver, BC, Walker grew up as a passionate hockey fan who initially dreamed of becoming an NHL goaltender. That dream never panned out and Walker eventually gave up hockey to pursue a career in baseball, which turned out to be a pretty good decision. But this weekend, the 53-year-old will potentially get a chance to live out his first dream.
Per league stipulations, every NHL arena is required to have an emergency backup goalie on-hand in case either team can't use their active, rostered goalie(s). The chances that Walker actually suits up and sees action are very minimal considering only two EBUGs have entered a game since 2015.
The latest instance came in February when the 42-year-old Ayres, who serves as a Zamboni driver for the Maple Leafs, was forced into action with the Carolina Hurricanes after Carolina's two goalies got hurt during a game in Toronto. Ayres stopped eight of 10 shots during the game and helped the Canes beat the Maple Leafs, becoming the first emergency backup to earn a win in a regular season game.
Walker landed with the Colorado Rockies in 1995 and spent more than 10 years with the organization, including an MVP season in 1997. He will become the first Rockies player ever inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.