The most famous emergency goalie in history, David Ayres, has signed a Disney movie deal to tell his story, according to reports.
One year ago today, David Ayres a mild mannered Zamboni driver from Whitby, Ontario, shocked the hockey world by posting a 6-3 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Many remarked in the afterglow of this sensational event that Ayres’ heroics was the stuff made for a Hollywood movie. Turns out, producers who make Hollywood movies thought the same thing.
According to Ayres, the movie could be released in as soon as two years. In addition, he will be producing it as well as helping write the script.
Zamboni Driver to International Fame
Ayres is the manager of the Mattamy Athletic Centre, located in the old Maple Leaf Gardens building. At the time that he became the first ever emergency backup goalie to win an National Hockey League game, he was the Zamboni driver for the American Hockey League’s Toronto Marlies.
Beating his employer in their home rink, gave everyone outside of the Greater Toronto Area a unique opportunity to point and laugh at the Leafs. But, in response to the jeers (and to their credit), Leafs fans also recognized what they had just witnessed and rose to their feet to give Ayres a standing ovation after the game.
In an interview with Sportnet’s Luke Fox published Feb. 22, Ayres broke down his “nonstop” year and tells how the Disney deal came to light.
One James Corden Call Starts It All
Late night talk show host James Corden was the first to dial up Ayres’ phone to inquire about making a movie about the wildest night of his life.
“When we were in Carolina, I got a call from James Corden,” Ayres told Sportsnet. “He just wanted to say congrats. He heard about my story, thought it awesome. He let me know he had a production company. No pressure: ‘If you ever want a movie, let me know.'”
That connection brought about the involvement of the Creative Artists Agency (CAA) who told Ayres they were getting a “insane” amount of interest from production companies about doing the film.
The CAA narrowed it down to 12, and each company made their pitch to Ayres. However, in the end, it was a late night walk and talk between Corden and his neighbour – who is a high level employee for Disney – that sealed the movie deal.
“That’s how the whole Disney thing came about,” Ayres said. “So, we’ll see what happens. A little slow now with COVID, but once we get the ball rolling, it’ll be fine. Once we start writing it, I think they’ll go two years from there.”
Who Will Play Ayres?
Ayres says he hasn’t picked an actor to play him on the big screen. Although, the production companies he met with have thrown out a few names.
Who could they be?
“Mark Wahlberg or Ryan Reynolds,” Ayres told Fox. “Another producer picked Chris Pratt, and he said, ‘I don’t like hockey.’ I’m pretty sure it was him. (laughs) Whoever it is, I’m sure they’ll be great. I’ll get to meet him, hang out and do the whole thing together. It’ll be fun.”
Ayres Isn’t Tired of Retelling His Story
The biggest night of your life is often your go-to story at a party or social gathering. Remember those? Anyway, for Ayres it’s no different. The 43-year-old is not tired of recounting flashing the leather on Auston Matthews and Zach Hyman.
But does that material ever get just a little bit stale, Fox asked?
It depends on the questions you’re asked. Sometimes it’s a super-generic interview, where all the questions I’ve answered a million times. Some come with different angles, like the kidney transplant angle. I often get, “How did it feel when the first shot went in?” It’s like, “Well, that sucks.” The worst thing I’ve had so far is… Because I signed a movie deal with Disney, I had a bunch of the producers and writers on Zoom calls. Some of the stuff that the non-hockey guys ask you, it’s just like, “You’re working for Disney, man. You should’ve done your research a little bit for that one.” (chuckles) For the most part, they’re great. It was a great night for me, so why would I not be excited to talk about it?From ‘David Ayres Q&A: Disney deal, strangers’ smiles and a bottle worth cracking’, Luke Fox for sportsnet.ca Feb. 22, 2021
Like many Canadians, Ayres is just a regular guy who was simply doing his job that night, one year ago. Like any of the other emergency goalies around the league, he always knew there’d be a chance to get in a game, but few if any of them ever dream they’ll steal the show.
Ayres did that at the ACC and will now have a chance to do it again at the box office.
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