The Toronto Maple Leafs Are the Laughing Stock of the NHL

Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs had a night to forget. In less than two periods a man in their own organization made them the laughing stock of the league.

In what has to be the oddest game of the season, the Toronto Maple Leafs not only lost a game, but the respect of many of their fans.

After an abysmal showing on home ice, the Toronto Maple Leafs are going to be the butt of many jokes. This is because they managed to lose their Saturday night game 6-3 to the Carolina Hurricanes and a Zamboni driver.

Every team in the NHL is required to have a dedicated emergency goaltender at the rink with equipment prepared to get into the game if called upon.

They are supplied by the home team but could play for either side. This backup to the backup does get the nod from time to time and it’s always a spectacle when it happens.

Though they don’t always see ice time, it adds a whole new level of intrigue into the game. This was the case when the 42-year-old Whitby, Ont native, David Ayres, was told to gear up in Toronto.

Who is David Ayres?

There was no way to predict prior to game time that the most important person in the building would be the ice resurfacer at Coca-Cola Coliseum. Ayres works for the Toronto Marlies making sure their floods and scrapes are done just right. On this night, however, he was working for a different organization.

When James Reimer and Petr Mrazek were both injured for the Hurricanes, the dedicated emergency goalie in Toronto was activated. Wearing a Marlies crown on the side of his mask and back of his glove along with white and blue pads, Ayres stepped onto the ice and stood between the pipes for the Canes.

This wasn’t the first emergency situation for Ayres. He had geared up twice before. Once for the Marlies and a second time for the Charlotte Checkers in the AHL. He didn’t see any game action on either occasion. The last time Ayres did play competitive hockey was 2014-15 when he started eight Allan Cup Hockey (ACH) games, the OHA Senior “AAA” league. He had a putrid 8.88 goals-against average and a .777 save percentage.

Some Controversy

Using an employee of MLSE as the emergency goalie was a move that reportedly upset other clubs.

After the game, on the CBC, Elliotte Friedman explained on the broadcast that “there was a lot of anger around the league. They were saying, “how on earth can a Leafs employee go in this huge game, a 42-year old guy. Like, how can this guy be the emergency backup goaltender?” And also, I think this is going to get added to the GM meetings coming up next week in Florida because of that. Teams were furious and then as the game unfolded, people were laughing at them.”

The complaint is legitimate even though Carolina ended up with the win. It’s peculiar that someone who occasionally practices with the Toronto Maple Leafs and receives a paycheck from their parent company can be expected to actively work against his own organization.

After Ayres let in two goals on three shots, his loyalty was potentially in question. If the Leafs had come back and won, he would have likely been scrutinized forever.

Instead, something unexpected happened. The Hurricanes embarrassed the Leafs, limiting them to eight shots in the second and seven in the third. At the same time, they pounded Frederik Andersen at the other end, throwing 47 pucks on goal. One of those shots came off Ayres’s stick.

What David Ayres Gets Out of the Game

Ayres faced ten shots and stopped eight. That was good enough for his first (and likely his only) NHL win. He will now have a .800 save percentage and a 4.29 goals-against average on the books. That’s not all Ayres will receive from the game. Contractually, he is owed more.

According to the NHL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), Ayres will be paid $500 to have lived out the dream of a lifetime. He will also get to keep his white #90 Canes jersey. The language in the CBA is very specific about the terms for an emergency tender. It states:

"In consideration of the opportunity to play in the NHL, receipt of $500, and the Player being permitted to retain his game-worn jersey, the Player agrees to present himself, upon request of the Club to perform services as a player on [DATE] at [LOCATION].This agreement shall be valid for a term of one (1) day, and a Club shall only be permitted to enter into such an agreement in accordance with Section 16.14 of the CBA. No additional payment, bonus (of any kind) or any other form of compensation is permitted, other than as provided for herein.Player certifies that he does not have any current contractual obligation elsewhere. Player further certifies that he has not terminated an existing contractual obligation to meet the foregoing requirement.Club certifies that it is signing player to this Professional Try-Out Agreement in order to address a last minute injury, illness or League suspension that results in the Club not being able to dress two goaltenders for an NHL Game, and that effectuating a Recall is otherwise impossible (e.g., a Recalled Player could not possibly have arrived in time to participate in the Game due to travel)."

Ayres was probably also gifted the game puck and now has a story he will be asked to tell at every party he ever attends. He now also has bragging rights at the rink whenever he sees the Leafs. Twitter may be brutal so hopefully, Ayres is merciful.

Next. The Players the Leafs WON'T Acquire. dark

The Toronto Maple Leafs players will need to make some serious changes. They cannot afford to play such lackluster hockey and expect to make the playoffs. Perhaps being shut out for an entire period and losing a game to Ayres is the shock they needed.

If not, Kyle Dubas will have only a very short window to upgrade his roster before the NHL Trade Deadline.