NHL Emergency Backup Goalie Salary is $500 per game. David Ayres and Thomas Hodges are notable emergency goalies to play in the NHL.
The emergency backup goaltenders are termed as EBUGs. They are usually sent to the ice rink when the regular goaltenders are unable to play.
We don't see EBUGs playing in every NHL or other league match, but they become crucial for the continuity of a match when both goaltenders of a team are injured, suspended, or anything that stops them from playing.
Since the backup goalies are an emergency need, the team can send any eligible goaltenders available to them to play the rest of the game. A team also can call up the EBUGs from its minor league affiliates and farm teams.
What is an NHL Emergency Goalie?
An emergency goalie in NHL is a backup netminder who plays to continue a match if both the netminders of a team are injured during a game.
No other skaters are allowed to wear goalie equipment unless both of the regular goaltenders are injured or can't continue the match for any other reason.
When both the regular netminders of a team are not in the state of being able to play, the team can dress any available goaltenders.
Sometimes, the suspension also forces the goalies to leave the ice. In such cases, the NHL teams can call up a goaltender from its minor-league affiliates as EBUG.
Until the mid-1960s, the NHL franchises used to keep only one goaltender on the team. During the 1965/66, the league made it compulsory for the teams to dress two goaltenders during a match.
However, on some occasions, even two netminders are when the goaltenders have to leave the match midway due to injuries and difficulties. This led to the concept of EBUGs so that the games can keep running smoothly.
NHL Emergency Goalie Contract and Pay
Regarding the emergency NHL goalie pay, there is no provision to pay them any money as a salary even if they appear during a game.
However, the NHL backup goalies are paid a minimalistic $500 for every game they play. The amount of payment of the EBUGs is collectively decided by the NHL and NHL Players’ Association (NHLPA).
While the regular NHL players make $750,000 a year at minimum, it sounds unfair that the emergency goalies are paid just some hundred dollars.
Luckily, the EBUGs are provided an option to sign amateur tryout agreements before taking the ice. If a backup goalie signs the agreement, he is not entitled to any pay for the game he plays.
The emergency goalies are not in a full contract with the NHL franchise. However, the team can sign the player in the future if he impresses the club with his performance.
EBUGs' appearances in the NHL matches are rare. That's why the teams use an amateur goalie to fill the gap rather than a professional to avoid the salary. It also allows the third goalie to continue playing in the minor leagues instead of sitting on the bench.
NHL Rules for Backup Goalie
NHL emergency goalie rule restricts any other players from the roster from playing as a goalie unless both the regular netminders of the team are not in the state of playing.
Rule 5.3 of the NHL Rulebook states that "Each team shall have on its bench, or on a chair immediately beside the bench (or nearby), a substitute goalkeeper who shall, at all times, be fully equipped and ready to play."
In the next paragraph, it is mentioned that "Except when both goalkeepers are incapacitated, no skater on the playing roster in the game shall be permitted to wear the equipment of the goalkeeper."
If both of the listed goaltenders are injured or incapacitated in a short period of time, the backup goalkeeper will be provided with enough time to dress up. Additionally, the third goalie is also entitled to a 2-minute warm-up.
The warm-up time is not provided if the EBUG is entering the ice to defend against a penalty shot. Also, the third netminder is not entitled to warm up if he is already dressed up and on the bench when the second one becomes incapacitated and he shall enter the game immediately.
The teams are allowed to recall a goalkeeper from their minor league affiliates to ensure a complete lineup for subsequent games as a result of suspensions incurred to both goalkeepers.
Recalling a third goalie is considered to be an emergency recall and subject to the twenty-three players' roster limitations for the franchises.
NHL Emergency Goalie List
Following is the list of NHL emergency goaltenders, who played for different teams as third goalie.
Team Played for
Tampa Bay Lightning
David Ayres played as an emergency goalie for the Carolina Hurricanes in a match against the Toronto Maple Leafs on February 22, 2020.
The Hurricanes' listed goalkeepers, James Reimer and Petr Mrazek suffered injuries during the game. Ayres helped to continue the match entering the ice in the second period as an EBUG.
He was in action for 8 minutes and 41 seconds on the ice. The Hurricanes were leading with a 3-1 and Ayres allowed two goals to the Leafs before he saved next seven shots among eight.
He helped the Hurricanes win 6-3 against the Leafs. Ayres also holds the record of the oldest goaltender to win an NHL regular-season debut.
Foster became an EBUG for the Blackhawks in a 2018 match against the Winnipeg Jets. The presumed starter Anton Forsberg suffered an injury.
Their next netminder Corey Crawford started the game but he had to leave the ice after being caught up by a concussion.
The Blackhawks sent Collin Delia as their third goaltender to continue the play. Unfortunately, Delia also got injured and Foster entered the ice.
During his 14 minutes of play, he got seven shots and saved each of them. Chicago Blackhawks won 6-2 against the Winnipeg Jets that night.
Jorge Alves served the Carolina Hurricanes as their emergency goaltender during the game against the Lightning on December 31, 2016.
The Canes' regular netminder, Eddie Lack suffered a concussion, making him unable to play. Cam Ward, as the listed goalie of the Hurricanes went on the ice first and their coach Bill Peters replaced Ward with Alves for the final 7.6 seconds of the match.
Alves received no shots during his little period of action on the ice. Carolina Hurricanes ultimately ended up losing the match by a 3-1 score.
Hodge represented the Anaheim Ducks as their emergency goalkeeper on 29th April 2022, in a match against the Dallas Stars.
Both of the regular netminders, John Gibson and Anthony Stolarz suffered injuries during the match and Hodges had to enter the ice to keep the match running.
The Ducks lost the match, but Hodges was applauded by the fans and players from both teams for his performance.