Dinos goalie Butler had ‘lots of fun’ suiting up as a backup for Vancouver
Canucks helped him fit in after Cory Schneider was felled by the flu at the last minute
A one-day fantasy camp taken to a new level.
“At the end of the day, it’s just a hockey game,” said Dustin Butler, trying hard to convince himself of that fact, his cameo-keepsake goalie stick adorned with autographs from the Sedin twins, Ryan Kesler, Kevin Bieksa and the rest of his one-night teammates. “But you see these guys on TV all the time, so it’s kinda neat to come in and see what they’re like away from the cameras and get to know them a bit.
“I just kinda wanted to watch, see what they do. Don’t get in their way or interrupt their habits. It was just interesting to see how they get ready for the game.
“The guys treated me well. They made me feel a part of things. Definitely lots of fun.”
With Cory Schneider down by flu, Butler, who just finished his fifth and final year with the University of Calgary Dinos, was called in on an emergency basis by the visiting Vancouver Canucks to caddy for Roberto Luongo on Wednesday at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
And after taking warm-up shots, Canuck ball cap perched atop his head, the 25-year-old from High River had the best seat in the house to witness a pretty fair goaltending duel between Luongo and Miikka Kiprusoff, at least through 50 minutes.
“It’s been a busy day, for sure,” Butler acknowledged, “trying to get organized and get down to the rink. It was around noon, my coach for the U of C called saying Cory Schneider had the flu so they needed someone to sit on the bench tonight.
“I was actually up in Red Deer, we’ve been skating there, so I actually had to rip up there quick, grab it and come back down. So it was a bit of a hectic afternoon.
“I was actually in the same position a couple of years ago, but I couldn’t go because I was hurt at the time. I knew it happened the odd time with farm teams being so far away.”
A nerve-jangling experience, for certain, but he didn’t walk into the Vancouver dressing room completely cold. Butler actually played with Canucks’ right winger Jannik Hansen for a year in Portland back during their junior days.
“Advice? No, he’s a pretty mellow, easygoing going. It was just nice to come in and see a familiar face.”
And, in time-honoured tradition, the ‘Nucks let the kid skate out onto the ice first, and left him there to take a couple twirls on his own.
“I didn’t know that was the plan,” he said, laughing. “I seen Calgary going and they made me go first, so I thought ‘That’s nice of them.’ Then I look back and there’s nobody there so I was kind of puzzled . . .”
And he actually resembles the man he replaced, Schneider. A bit, anyway.
“I think there was a couple comments about another red-headed goalie coming in, so that was all right.”
Down a couple of dressing stalls, Luongo, busy stuffing gear into his equipment bag for a quick exit out of town, seemed genuinely pleased at the attention Butler was receiving.
“It must be an awesome feeling to have something like that happen,” Luongo said. “We were really trying to get him in there the last minute or so, but we couldn’t get a whistle.”
That didn’t seem to bother the backup much.
“They were joking on the bench if they scored on that last power play I was going in so after they scored they all started yelling at the coach to put me in.”
Dustin Butler, his one-day fantasy camp at an end, smiled.
“But it was all right by me to sit and watch.”
Follow George Johnson on Twitter/GeorgejohnsonCH
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