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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

An interesting emergency goalie scenario for the Blackhawks

With Corey Crawford on IR recovering from an appendectomy, the Blackhawks are looking to backup goalie Scott Darling to help the team hold their lead in the Central Division. The Blackhawks are currently 16-8-3 and are three points ahead of the St. Louis Blues. Darling's record this season is 4-2-1 with a 2.71 GAA and .912 SV% compared to Crawford's 12-6-2 record, 2.27 GAA and .927 SV%.

While Darling gets the starting nod, the backup spot will be filled by 29 year old Lars Johansson, who was signed in May by the Blackhawks after several seasons in the Swedish Hockey League. Last year he led the SHL in GAA and SV%. So far this season with the Blackhawks' AHL affiliate Rockford IceHogs, Johansson made 16 starts and arrives in Chicago with a 6-7-1 record.

This all sounds pretty straightforward but there was an interesting twist to the story... the Blackhawks were in Philadelphia when Crawford became ill. The Blackhawks goalie coach wasn't eligible to step in as a backup for Darling because he is a former professional player and there was no room in the Hawks salary cap to sign him. So with just a few hours to find another goalie, the Flyers (and the NHL's quirky backup goalie rules) were called on for help. 

A staff member identified Eric Semborski, a 23 year old former Temple University club hockey goalie, as a possible emergency goalie replacement. Semborski was working at the Flyers' practice facility with youth hockey leagues when he got the call just 2 hours before game time. He raced to the Wells Fargo Center and was signed to an amateur tryout contract before hitting the ice to warm up with the Blackhawks. (Ironically he is a lifelong Flyers fan and had actually been holding a grudge against the Blackhawks for beating the Flyers in the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals.) He did not ultimately get to play in the game and did not get any money for his appearance, but he left with some great memories and Blackhawks gear. An interesting emergency goalie scenario played itself out once again!

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