I was just watching ESPN and a team (Florida Panthers I think) had both goalies hurt and they showed an ASSISTANT COACH suit up to get ready to play. He didn't need to go out but I'm just curious with the rules in the NHL. Are coaches allowed to play like this in the NHL? Are other coaches/managers of other sports allowed to play on an emergency basis?

I didn't see Isaiah Thomas suit up when he was coaching the Knicks several yrs ago, I didn't see Ryne Sandberg suit up for the Phillies to play a few innings while managing them. Why was that assistant coach allowed to possibly play for the Panthers?

Here's the link to the story in case anyone is interested

  • 3
    On the sandberg/phillies thing, player managers used to be a thing in baseball (Pete Rose did it for the Reds), and player coaches aren't uncommon in the minors (Manny Ramirez was one for the Iowa Cubs last year). Generally though, roster moves like this are very restricted in Baseball/basketball. You can't add players to a roster midgame in those sports
    – wax eagle
    Commented Mar 4, 2015 at 14:37
  • There was some talk about Paul Konerko taking over as player/manager for the White Sox when Robin Ventura was eventually hired.
    – Joe
    Commented Mar 4, 2015 at 20:45

1 Answer 1


This is covered by Rule 5.3 of the NHL rulebook

In regular League and Playoff games, if both listed goalkeepers are incapacitated, that team shall be entitled to dress and play any available goalkeeper who is eligible.

In order to make Robb Tallas an "eligible" player, the Panthers will almost certainly have had him sign a one-day contract. At that point, it doesn't matter that he wasn't on the roster at the start of the day, or even the start of the match - he's an available goalkeeper. One thing potentially worth noting here is that this kind of situation isn't completely clear, even to NHL teams. Quoting from this ESPN report from the NHL's 2015 general managers' meeting:

Though goaltending coach Robb Tallas was on hand in case he was needed, there was some initial confusion about who was allowed to suit up. [...] While most teams have someone on staff that may have some goaltending experience, it remains to be seen whether those people would be eligible. [Colin Campbell, the NHL's Director of Hockey Operations] said that the NHL's central registry will have some input on that issue."

That's the legalese, but the practicalities of the situation are that hockey goalkeepers are such specialised players that you can't just expect another player to put on some goalie pads and be able to play - that's the difference from basketball, where the positions are much more equivalent.

  • Thx for the answer. I thought what you said, that goalies are specialized positions and that no one else could possibly play it. Therefore, I thought they were going to play an attacking 6 on 5, power play type lineup the rest of the game, which would have been interesting to watch. =)
    – Classified
    Commented Mar 4, 2015 at 18:22
  • Well, they could of just put any skaters in net if they wanted to. Put some goalie gear on and just cut off angles
    – Huangism
    Commented Mar 5, 2015 at 21:14
  • 2
    I think, for safety reasons, that both NHL and USA Hockey (amateur) rules stipulate that any player designated as goalie must wear the full set of approved gear if available. You can't just put goalie legs on a skater and stick him between the pipes; if he's gonna take slapshots, even at the D and I league levels where that term barely qualifies, he's gotta have the padding, otherwise he's gonna get hurt, perhaps very badly (like a puck to the throat).
    – KeithS
    Commented Mar 13, 2015 at 0:09

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