The Vancouver Canucks gave backup goalie Dustin Butler the usual pre-game rookie treatment then lobbied for him to replace Roberto Luongo as the clock ticked down in Thursday’s win over the Calgary Flames.
No big deal, right?
Well, it was for Butler, a five-year starter with the University of Calgary Dinos who was signed as an emergency backup because Cory Schneider was too ill to dress for the game. With the game being played in Calgary and the Canucks’ minor-league affiliate being based in Chicago, Butler was closest — and most experienced — option as a short-term fill-in for Schneider.
“At the end of the day, it’s a hockey game but you see all these guys on TV every morning or every night, so it’s neat to come in and see what they’re like away from the cameras and just get to know them a bit,” Butler said.
The 25-year-old was sent out first for pre-game warmups and in hockey tradition did a lap around the Saddledome ice by himself while the rest of the Canucks had a laugh while watching from the tunnel. But when the Canucks built a 4-1 lead, they lobbied coach Alain Vigneault to let Butler replace Luongo late in the third period.
“I was feeling a lot of pressure from my bench because everybody was after me to put him in,” Vigneault said. “I think it says a lot about the group. They wanted the young man to get a little taste of the NHL but we didn’t get a whistle and I’m not sure if we would have (gotten) one what I would’ve done, to tell the truth.”
Not playing was no big deal for Butler, who was happy to watch from the end of the bench.
“The guys here treated me really well, made me feel a part of things,” Butler said. “It was definitely a lot of fun.”