The Capitals had to dress a 31-year-old women's hockey coach as their backup goalie vs. Jets
Here's how Gavin McHale, the University of Manitoba women's coach, suited up for Washington on Wednesday
There are few things better in the NHL than regular guys as emergency goalies. Last year, Blackhawks after being signed hours earlier and actually saved all seven shots he faced. After signing with the Capitals on Wednesday, 31-year-old University of Manitoba women's hockey coach Gavin McHale may end up getting the same opportunity.in a game for the
Capitals starter Braden Holtby continues to recover from an upper body injury and Pheonix Copley is Washington's current starter. McHale, who is the Winnipeg Jets' emergency backup, is now the "second-stringer" for the Capitals. On Wednesday night, after signing a contract, he began warming up with players like Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, T.J. Oshie and John Carlson.
Needless to say, it was a lot for McHale.
"You know, I was totally star-struck, and then the nerves started to set in, realizing the situation at hand," McHale told reporters after the game, via CBC. "And then I settled in as the game got going, and the normalcies of hockey kind of took over."
If you know anything about hockey players, you know that they're insanely friendly. The way they treated McHale was no exception, by the sound of it.
"I think every single person in this room introduced themselves to me," he said on the locker room. "It just made me feel a lot more calm, and they just kind of let me do my thing. I mean, they had to get ready for a game so … it just made me feel really welcomed.
"I think the biggest thing is ... every guy in here was so nice to me and made me feel so good, that you know, just to be a good person -- it's a really important piece of what hockey players are," he said.
McHale, who works in Winnipeg, was actually called by Jets assistant GM Craig Heisinger on Wednesday -- a call that he missed several times. By the time he saw the calls, he had less than two hours to get to the rink.
It sounds like seeing his first shot from Ovechkin didn't go so well: "I was hoping no one saw that — pretty star-struck," said McHale. "And then star-struck for the next three or four after that until I kind of settled in and the guys said a couple things to me. So it was good."
To contextualize this, imagine being an emergency goalie for your hometown team, and hours before a game you get a call that you'll be putting on pads for your opponent. That's got to be quite the turnaround. McHale is used to it, though. He once had to do the same thing midway through an Avalanche game.
As for whether or not McHale's fandom ultimately lies with the Jets? Via NBC Sports: "I'm not at liberty to say that right now."
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