In Toronto, rental goalies — a cohort of mostly men and a few women — generally range in age from 18 to 65 and come from all walks of life: engineering, acting, education, policing, the trades.
Some even try to make itinerant goaltending their profession. Hamilton is one of those.
A musician who plays the vibraphone in a six-person folk band called Beams, Hamilton said he makes more money being a rental goalie than playing music in clubs.
He averages 10 games a week and keeps 40 Canadian dollars per game, paying 10 dollars in commission to a rental agency. His cut works out to about 1,600 Canadian dollars, or $1,220 in United States currency, a month. By his estimate, he has made well over 100,000 dollars in eight years as a rental goalie. And, yes, he said, he declares all of his income on his taxes.
“It’s not enough for a mortgage and kids’ education, but it’s just enough to get by,” he said. “There’s certainly more taxing ways to make a living. But I sweat and I come home with bruises.”
The rent-a-goalie concept has been around since at least 1985, when Doug Cardy, a former top junior goalie for the Toronto Marlboros, got tired of people “bugging me” to fill in on teams five or six times a week while he juggled a full-time job.
“I started telling them, ‘I want some money,’” said Cardy, a short-haul trucker. “And I started with a little cardboard sign in one of the arenas with my phone number.”
Cardy set up a business in which his goalies used pagers to check in for work. The money he scratched out wasn’t worth it, though, and Cardy, now 61, got out.