Salary cap causes historic amateur moment for Philadelphia

This is David Sloane, a 24-year-old defenseman who played for Colgate University this season before being signed to an amateur tryout contract last month with the AHL Philadelphia Phantoms, with whom he's yet to see any action.

You may notice he's not wearing either of those jerseys in this photo snapped last night. That's because Sloane, in one of the most unlikely stories of the season, became an NHL defenseman last night for the Philadelphia Flyers against the New York Rangers.

In the process, Sloane became the first Philadelphia-born player to ever lace up the skates for the Flyers.

This sports fable was made possible by harsh economic reality in the NHL: The Flyers simply didn't have any room under the $56.7 million salary cap to make an ideal move after defenseman Ryan Parent strained his groin and missed last night's game. So Sloane was signed to "an amateur tryout under emergency conditions," because his salary cap hit is zero, as Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren told the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Sloane was paid a per diem sum of about $100 for appearing in a critical late-season game at Madison Square Garden, where he played in front of his parents. Danny Briere, the Flyers' highest-paid player, was scheduled to make $10 million this season.

How did the rookie fare in the Flyers' 2-1 loss to the Rangers? Sloane was paired with defenseman Andrew Alberts, had 12 shifts and played 6 minutes, 44 seconds. He didn't see any time on special teams.

Not to say this wasn't a special time for Sloane, who called the opportunity a dream come true. From the Courier Times:

Sloane grew up with hockey from an early age, competing for the Little Flyers junior team. He later played for Choate Prep in Connecticut. He went undrafted by the NHL. "One minute I'm in Albany (with the Phantoms), the next I'm in a rental car coming down to New York,'' Sloane said. "It was a total surprise to me.''

Now we just have to get this dude in a shootout against Capitals Web site editor-turned-emergency goalie Brett Leonhardt, this season's other surreal story.

Under the salary cap, some teams are having to take drastic measures late in the season. The Flyers suit up an amateur defenseman; the Calgary Flames, meanwhile, have been playing games with 17 or fewer skaters due to a lack of cap space for minor league reinforcements. On the one hand, it's a disturbing trend; on the other, it guarantees 15-minute-famous guys like David Sloane won't have to buy their own drinks for a while in their hometowns.

Thanks to reader Steve Smith for the tip.

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