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Updated: November 23rd, 2011 6:48pm
With Niklas Backstrom unavailable, Wild signs 51-year-old goalie

With Niklas Backstrom unavailable, Wild signs 51-year-old goalie

by Judd Zulgad
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ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Minnesota Wild had to call quite the goaltending audible on Wednesday night.

Niklas Backstrom, who was scheduled to start against Nashville at Xcel Energy Center, was not available for personal reasons, forcing the team to get creative with its backup goalie.

Paul Deutsch, 51, was signed to an amateur contract and went through warmups as Matt Hackett of the AHL Houston Aeros caught a flight to the Twin Cities.

Josh Harding, meanwhile, got the start against the Predators.

Deutsch, a Minneapolis native who was born in 1960, was signed in case Hackett's flight did not arrive in the Twin Cities in time for the game. Wednesday is one of the busiest days of the year when it comes to air travel.

Hackett did arrive just before the game started and Deutsch was scratched.

Deutsch attended Minneapolis Roosevelt and played defense in high school at the junior varsity level. He became a goalie in his 30s and plays the position in adult leagues. In fact, he was scheduled to play in a Wednesday night beer league game this evening.

Deutsch is friends with former Wild assistant coach Mike Ramsey, who also played high school hockey at Roosevelt, and has played goalie for the Wild in practices through the years when they needed an extra body at that position.

To make room on the roster, the Wild placed defenseman Marek Zidlicky (concussion) on injured reserve.

Even if the Wild had wanted to dress former NHL goalie Bob Mason, who is the team's goalie coach, they couldn't have done it until Thursday because he would have had to clear waivers for 24 hours. The issue is that the 50-year-old Mason previously played professional hockey. Deutsch wasn't subject to waivers because he never played at the pro level.

Judd Zulgad is a columnist for He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays and "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Judd | @1500ESPNJudd | Mackey & Judd