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Who Would Be The LA Kings’ Emergency Backup Goaltender?

LA Kings goaltending coach Bill Ranford
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Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography

EL SEGUNDO, CA — Early in the 1998-99 season, the Los Angeles Kings lost goalies Stephane Fiset and Jamie Storr in the same game—both suffered groin strains a 5-5 tie against the Colorado Avalanche on October 18, 1998, at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, California.

At the time, the Kings were not carrying a third goalie on their roster. Storr, the backup, remained in the game, gutting it out, even though it was quite obvious that he could barely move.

The next day, the Kings recalled goaltender Manny Legace from the Long Beach Ice Dogs of the International Hockey League. Goaltender Alexey Volkov of the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League was also recalled.

Legace played 17 games for the Kings that season, earning a 2-9-2 record, with a 2.60 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage.

Volkov did not make an appearance for the Kings.

Having both of a team’s goaltenders go down with injuries after the same game is very, very rare. But that nightmare became a reality once again on March 3, 2015, when the Florida Panthers ran into virtually the same problem at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida.

Starting goaltender Roberto Luongo suffered a shoulder injury in the first period of the Panthers’ game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. He finished the period, but was replaced by Al Montoya at the start of the second period.

Montoya suffered an apparent groin injury early in the third period. At the time, Luongo was at the hospital getting checked out. That forced the Panthers to sign goaltender coach Robb Tallas to a contract and dress him to possibly enter the game. Panthers forward Derek McKenzie also put on goaltender gear, as a precaution.

After a long delay while the Panthers moved to get Tallas ready, Montoya went back in goal. He gutted it out until the 10:52 mark of the third period.

By that time, Tallas, with his professional tryout contract signed, was dressed and ready to go. But Luongo had made his way back to the BB&T Center. He put the gear back on and finished the last 9:08 of the third period.

The Maple Leafs won the game, 3-2.

In light of this strange and rare occurrence in Florida, what would the Kings do in a similar situation?

Back in 1998-99, the Kings had no contigency plan. But now, like the Panthers, the Kings would dress their goaltender coach, Bill Ranford, and have him finish the game in goal.

“I’m on the same contract as Robbie Tallas for both guys (Jonathan Quick and Martin Jones),” said Ranford. “I always have equipment packed, for that reason.’

“I was telling the guys—we had a situation [when he played for the Edmonton Oilers] where I ended up getting hurt in the first period, a high ankle sprain,” added Ranford. “I was basically blocked up in ice, and [Eldon] Pokey Reddick went in. He takes a shot to the head, and he’s concussed. I have to play the last eight minutes of the second period—get dressed again, and basically, play on one leg. I just stood there, and then Pokey came back and played the third period. Crazy. So I played somewhat like what Montoya did last night by just standing there.”

“I think it was [former NHL goaltender] Greg Millen who was actually broadcasting at the game. They were trying to sign him to a [one-day] contract to come in and play.”

Millen is now an analyst on SportsNet’s Hockey Night In Canada broadcasts.

Despite appearances, Ranford wouldn’t actually be all that strange a sight in the Kings’ net.

“He’s suited up a couple of times for us [in practice],” said forward Trevor Lewis. “When you’re shooting on him, it’s a lot different. He’s more of a stand-up guy. You’ve got to shoot more on the ice to score on him. When you shoot on [Quick or Jones], you can’t really shoot on the ice.”

Lewis indicated that he would not be a good choice as the Kings’ emergency backup goaltender.

“I used to play road hockey goalie sometimes, but I don’t know if I could handle that,” he said.

An earlier version of this story confused the 1998-99 season, when Fiset and Storr were injured, with the 2006-07 season, when the Kings were forced to recall goaltenders Barry Brust and Yutaka Fukufuji. Frozen Royalty regrets the error.

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