An uplifting confluence of sports and life, Ayres' tale proves you never know when your moment to shine may come. Ayres has been the emergency goalie at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto for three years, serving as the 'just-in-case' fill-in. He also served as the Charlotte Checkers' emergency goalie earlier this season, but did not enter a game.
"He (Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas) used to say to me, 'Trust me, you're going to get into a game some day,'" Ayres told Thomas Ketko with Sportsnet.
Saturday night, that chance came after Carolina goalies Petr Mrazek and James Reimer left with injuries. Ayres gave up two goals early on in his stint, but settled in and held strong in the third period. The Hurricanes got a much-needed 6-3 win with Ayers notching eight saves.
Ayres' tale is worthy of a victory lap, and not one on the Zamboni. He'll get plenty of recognition on Tuesday in Raleigh, where it's David Ayres Day via a formal proclamation by Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin.
He'll sound the siren at Carolina's game Tuesday night against the Dallas Stars.
On Tuesday at PNC Arena, Ayres said he's not tired of talking about this experience yet but does hope to get back to his normal day-to-day routine soon. Ayres also said he'd participate in a storm surge if the Hurricanes win Tuesday night.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper made Ayres an honorary North Carolinian as Cooper said Ayres "astonished" many within the state with his performance.
"David Ayres proved to be the personification of 'That's hockey baby!'" read the Governor's proclamation.
Ayres spent nearly the entire day Monday fulfilling media obligations that concluded with an appearance on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Needless to say, the day accounted for way more than "15 minutes of fame."
A sampling from the first two days of the Dave Ayres Media Tour. pic.twitter.com/sLrlUrOrzY— Hurricanes PR (@CanesPR) February 24, 2020
The 42-year-old is the oldest goalie to win his debut, a triumph for underdogs everywhere.
Ayres survived two bouts with skin cancer. In 2004, Ayres needed a kidney transplant. He got one from his mother, Mary, but at that point, he felt he'd never play again.
Ayres was the maintenance man at Coca-Cola Coliseum in Toronto, often driving the Zamboni. He now has his own stat page on hockey-reference.com and fans can buy a shirt sporting his name and number.
"It's pretty special," Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "I told the guys after the game, 'Thank him because that just gave (us) an incredible memory.'"
In addition to Ayres' story going viral, the Hurricanes traded for a trio of players Monday, hoping to bolster their hopes in a tight race in the competitive Metropolitan division.