Answer this one.
Besides Adam Pardy, and most recently Eamon McAdam, which member of the Newfoundland Growlers has suited up for a regular-season NHL game?
We’re looking at players only, so the answer isn’t head coach Ryane Clowe, who skated in nearly 500 big-league contests with San Jose, the New York Rangers and New Jersey.
It’s a toughie, especially with the Growlers being such a young team, made up mostly of players with just one or two years of professional experience in any league. Even factoring in the 34-year-old Pardy, eliteprospects.com says Newfoundland has the third-youngest team in the 27-team ECHL.
In fact, of the 18 players’ in the Growlers lineups for the team’s inaugural ECHL games over the weekend, 10 — or more than half — were rookies.
And a quick online search might not help you determine the answer. It could take some deep digging to spotlight the Growler in question.
So we’ll tell you straight out that it’s goaltender Michael Garteig, who donned a Vancouver Canucks’ jersey for one game in November of 2016 as the result of an emergency recall from the ECHL’s Alaska Aces.
But he didn’t play against the Arizona Coyotes, only served as a backup to Jacob Markstrom in a Vancouver overtime victory.
As a result, he’s not listed as having an NHL game to his credit.
Same thing with McAdam, who dressed as a backup to Garret Sparks on the Toronto Maple Leafs Monday night with Frederik Andersen sidelined.
In a way, it seems a bit unfair. If Garteig and McAdam were defencemen or forwards and had mere seconds of action, or even they had done nothing more than serve a bench penalty, they’d still be part of what is a surprisingly long list of players with one NHL contest on their record.
So, how does Garteig look at it? Could he envision himself as having moment like Crash Davis, Kevin Costner’s character in the baseball epic Bull Durham, when he quietly announced “I was in the The Show” to the others on his minor-league team’s bus?
“It’s tough to say. I don’t think a lot of people know that,” said the 26-year-old Garteig, a native of Prince George, B.C., “but yeah, I was on the bench for an NHL game. I don’t what they call it. I was with Vancouver for two or three days. I can tell people I was in the NHL, but I don’t know if I can say played a game since I didn’t touch the ice.”
Well, at least not until following the final buzzer.
“After we scored in overtime, I got to leave the bench and go celebrate with the boys. It was a highlight for me.”
Garteig, who started for the Growlers Tuesday night against the Adirondack Thunder at Mile One Centre, was just about half a year removed from signing an entry-level deal with the Canucks, and only two months into a pro career with the Aces when he was brought up by Vancouver.
Despite Alaska’s geography, location played a part in the recall. Ryan Miller had come down with the flu and the Canucks didn’t figure they could get Richard Bachman in cross-continent from their AHL farm club, the Utica, N.Y., Comets, in time for the matchup with the Coyotes. As a result, they looked to the Aces in Anchorage, less than half the distance away and featuring direct flights to Vancouver.
A day later, Miller was feeling better and Garteig was flying to Wichita, Kan., to rejoin the Aces, who were on a road trip.
“Mostly, I just see it as a cool experience, especially being from British Columbia, “ he said. “And I have family in Vancouver. My brother lives there.
“When, I got called up, I texted my brother and said, ‘What are you doing tonight?’ and he replied, ‘I’m going to the Canucks game,’ and I came back ‘Oh, cool. Do you need tickets?’ and he said ‘No, why?’ and I said, ‘Because I’ll be sitting on the bench.’
“So I was able to get him better tickets and hang out with him after the game. That might have been the best thing of all.”
Since then, Garteig has played in the ECHL with Alaska and the Kalamazoo Wings, and with Utica in the AHL.
Now after signing with the young Growlers, he qualifies as a veteran even though this is just his third pro season.
“But I like that. In no way am I like Adam Pardy, but I’d like to consider myself a bit of a leader,” said Garteig, who was first star Saturday night at Mile One Centre, where he made 41 saves in a 3-2 loss to the Florida Everblades.
After splitting a season-opening series with the Everblades, Garteig and the Growlers close out their first-ever home stand tonight against Adirondack.