Accounting Through the Ages: From Accountant to NHL Goaltender
Aug 04, 2020 | By John Siegel
Sports fans around the world grow up dreaming of one day stepping on the field, pitch, ice, or court to thunderous applause, widespread acclaim, and generous compensation.
While this dream rarely comes true, there are the odd few who find their way to superstardom through a side door.
On March 29, 2018, Scott Foster, then a senior financial accountant from suburban Chicago, found himself achieving a childhood dream in perhaps the most unlikely way possible.
“From my perspective, this is a dream, regardless. This is something that no one can ever take away from me. This is something I can go home and tell my kids.
It’s funny, you would think there would be a lot of pressure, but really, tomorrow, I’m going to wake up, button up my shirt, and go to my day job. So, what pressure is there for me?"Scott Foster, Accountant and Part-Time NHL Goalie
Born and raised in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada, Foster grew up playing hockey (and, presumably, other sports...Wikipedia was vague). Earning himself a spot on the Western Michigan University’s hockey team, Foster quickly established himself as the team’s best goaltender.
After a few mediocre seasons, Foster called it a career earning a Masters of Science in Accounting and starting a career with a Chicago-based hedge fund of funds before moving into a senior position at a prominent Midwestern credit asset manager.
But we’re not just profiling a former college athlete-turned accountant because of his totally forgettable athletic background and steady trajectory as a finance and accounting professional. Thanks to Scott’s love of hockey, his proximity to where the Chicago Blackhawks ply their trade, and a semi-obscure, totally-asinine rule the National Hockey League refuses to eliminate for reasons, in the Spring of 2018, Scott Foster was about to become the most famous accountant in the universe.
Enter the Emergency Backup
"The Initial shock came when I had to dress. And then, I think you just kind of blacked out after that.”Scott Foster
With the Winnipeg Jets in town, the Chicago Blackhawks found themselves in a pretty bad situation. Their starting goalie, Corey Crawford, had been ruled out for the remainder of the season, leaving the goaltending duties to Anton Forsberg and Southern California native Collin Delia. With their organizational depth at the goalie position decimated — seriously, Forsberg and Delia were the only two available for that night’s game — it meant that the emergency goaltender — usually a hockey fan with some experience playing the game who is given free tickets to sit in the stands — would become a factor.
“Might” turned into “would” literally before the game started. Prior to puck drop, Forsberg injured himself kicking a soccer ball to one of his teammates. Seriously. As a result, Delia became the starter, and emergency backup, Scott Foster, became the backup, thisclose to becoming the first full-time accountant to play in a professional hockey game.
Almost half-way through the third period, Delia, who was starting his first NHL game, made a save on a point-blank opportunity from a Jets forward, only to crumple to the ice in pain. He would be forced to leave the game with 14+ minutes to play.
Now, you might be wondering: “Why does the NHL need an emergency goaltender rule? Why can’t teams just travel with three goalies so that in the unlikely event one gets injured playing soccer and the other can’t finish the game, a third is available?" The answer is “I don’t know.” Instead of allowing room in the salary cap for teams to carry another goalie, the NHL mandates that the home team have an emergency goaltender at each game, in the event that either team’s goalies get injured.
That’s right, Scott Foster was just as likely to play for his beloved Chicago Blackhawks as he was for the hated Winnipeg Jets.
Luckily for Foster, he didn’t have to make that decision.
Donning his sweet goalie pads and mentally psyching himself up to take on a team that would go on to the Western Conference Finals that season, Foster walked past the bench to the chuckles, high fives, and general jocularity of his new teammates, and onto the ice, going from spectator to participant in just a few short hours.
A Legendary Performance
“I’m an accountant by day. A few hours ago I was sitting on my computer typing on a ten-key, and now I’m standing in front of you guys, just finished fourteen-and-a-half minutes of NHL hockey.”Scott Foster
As announcers admired just how unlikely it was that the emergency backup was in net for a team desperately trying to make it to the playoffs, Scott Foster found himself looking down the barrel of a gun.
Winnipeg had been playing like a Stanley Cup favorite all season long. Players like Wheeler, Laine, Ehlers, Scheifele, and the bear-like Dustin Byfuglien looked back, down by four goals but smelling accountant blood in the water.
That night, in a season that would see the Chicago Blackhawks dynasty spiral out of control, Scott Foster, in hockey parlance, stood on his head.
Facing 90+ MPH slap shots from the point, dangerous redirects, and point-blank shots from angry-as-hell Canadians, Americans, Danes, and Finns, Scott Foster saved all seven shots he faced. And he looked good doing it.
As the seconds ticked away, a visibly nervous Foster played it cool, saving the final shots and ensuring a much-needed, though ultimately useless, victory for the Blackhawks. 24 hours after playing in a beer league hockey game with his buddies, Scott Foster, a freaking accountant, was voted as the first star of an NHL game.
Riding the Wave
“Did you see [Chicago Blackhawks Head Coach Joel Quennville] just laughing as you were getting on the ice,” asked a reporter after the game.Scott Foster
“I think I would too.”
In 14-and-a-half minutes, Scott Foster became a star. Receiving no compensation other than the jersey he wore in the game — technically he had signed an amateur tryout contract, meaning he wasn’t getting paid a cent — Foster returned to his life as an accountant and beer league goalie.
But the fanfare didn’t stop there.
Shortly after the game, the Chicago Steel of the top junior hockey league in the U.S., the USHL, extended Foster an opportunity to become the team’s emergency accountant. At the 2018 NHL Award Ceremony, Foster and brother of John, Jim Belushi, presented the league’s Vezina Trophy for the regular season’s best goalie.
After that, Foster slipped back into anonymity, turning down dozens of interview requests in order to spend time with his family and to focus on his career.