On Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020, the city of Raleigh, N.C., celebrated David Ayres Day. Seriously.
Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin declared the new holiday Tuesday morning in the PNC Arena media room with the man himself sitting alongside her.
“Thank you very much,” responded Ayres.
It was the latest in a whirlwind of stops on his victory tour since becoming an overnight celebrity. The 42-year-old Ayres entered Saturday night’s game against the Maple Leafs in Toronto as Carolina’s emergency backup goalie (EBUG) after both of the Hurricanes’ regular goalies were injured. He made eight saves as Carolina held on for an eventual 6-3 win.
His story quickly went viral on social media. The Whitby, Ont., native played minor league hockey for a few years before suffering a medical issue that required a kidney transplant. After making a full recovery, he got a job as an arena maintenance worker for the Maple Leafs’ AHL team, the Toronto Marlies. He has been helping out as a goalie in practice for a few years, as well as driving the Zamboni when required.
His media rounds began Monday and consisted of 10 interviews on such shows as ESPN’s “SportsCenter” and “NBC Nightly News,” as well as a meeting with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. He capped off the day with an appearance on CBS’s “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” in which he got showered with water by the host after finishing his opening monologue.
Early the next day (David Ayres Day), he was made an honorary citizen of North Carolina by Gov. Roy Cooper.
“North Carolina’s motto is Esse Quam Videri, which means to be rather than to seem,” Cooper wrote in an official proclamation. “David Ayres and the Carolina Hurricanes embodied that motto with their resiliency on their way to a critical win in the playoff hunt.”
Finally, on Tuesday night, he was at PNC Arena for Carolina’s game against the Dallas Stars, cranking the traditional pregame siren to get the fans fired up. Unfortunately for the Hurricanes, they were soundly beaten 4-1.
If only there was someone in the building who could have stepped in to help . . .
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