Ayres is the second-oldest player to make their professional debut in National Hockey League history, after Lester Patrick in 1927, according to the National Hockey League.
"You kind of think, 'Oh well how's this gonna end up?'" Brind'Amour said.
That included Ayres' wife, Sarah, who was sitting in the 300 level at Scotiabank when the enormity of the situation became clear at 11:19 of the second period after Mrazek was knocked out of the game following a collision with Leafs forward Kyle Clifford. Ayres - who works as director of operations at the Mattamy Athletic Centre, where part of his job is driving the Zamboni -, was a little shaky at first, giving up two goals on three shots in the period before stopping all seven shots he faced in the third.
Ayres revealed: "He said to me, "Just have fun".
Ayres, whose last time playing competitive hockey was in AAA junior hockey game in 2015, was at least spotted a 3-1 lead.
"They're flying me down to Carolina for their game on Tuesday so I'll get to spend more time with the guys, which is good", he told reporters in Toronto on Sunday at the Leafs' practice facility.
"These guys were awesome", he said. Ayres - who had had to undergo a kidney transplant from his mother 16 years ago, damaging his professional career prospects - was plucked from the stands, got suited and booted and was down the tunnel to take his place in front of the 6' x 4' net. Ayres' last competitive action was an eight-game stint with the Norwood Vipers of the Allan Cup Hockey League.
David Ayres and the Carolina Hurricanes embodied that motto with their resistance on their way to a critical victory in the hunt for the playoffs. Upon entering the locker room, he got a nice shower of Gatorade when Canes' players celebrated him as one of their own. "Thank you everyone for such tremendous love and support, I am (we are) beyond touched at those who reached out and all the positivity", she wrote. For his troubles, Ayres got to take home his No. 90 "Canes" jersey, but was not paid for his appearance because he was on an Amateur Tryout contract.
"North Carolina's motto is Esse Quam Videri, which means to be rather than to seem", Cooper wrote in an official proclamation. "I said, 'Give me a couple of shots - but not too many'". It'll be one of the best stories of the sports year, no doubt. Stories like Ayres's remind us that whatever we have now doesn't have to be "it".