With Michal Neuvirth unable to practice with the Capitals because of a “lower-body” injury, the team needed another goaltender to be on the ice Wednesday.
So Bruce Boudreau called director of media relations Sergey Kocharov shortly before practice.
“So I went home, grabbed my gear and came back here,” Kocharov said.
This kind of thing is a rarity but not a first-of-its-kind. During his time as website producer with the Caps, Brett Leonhardt filled this role often and even suited up for a game in December 2008 when Semyon Varlamov couldn’t make it to Verizon Center on time.
Kocharov did this a few times with the Coyotes when Wayne Gretzky was the coach, he said. Boudreau needed a guy, so it wasn’t a hard choice.
“He’s ready to go,” Boudreau said jokingly. “There’s a good history of Russian goaltenders in this league.”
Players took it easy on Kocharov, who a bit reluctantly held court with reporters for a few minutes after practice to discuss this different role.
“It wasn’t too bad. It wasn’t too bad at all,” he said. “They weren’t shooting that hard. … They were just being nice. It’s a long year a lot of interviews, so they were just being nice.”
That wasn’t by accident, either.
“I tried staying at the other end because I didn’t want to take the chance of hitting him in the wrong spot,” defenseman Karl Alzner said. “I think he got a pretty good appreciation for what the goalies have to go through and he was pretty tired by the end of it.”
John Carlson piped in on Twitter.
“Got my confidence up shooting on @SergeyKocharov today at practice,” he wrote. “Probably going to have to do some more interviews now haha.”