ESPN's Cohn to participate in Panthers' practice goalie tryout

By Craig Davis, Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel
Linda Cohn

Long-time ESPN SportsCenter anchor Linda Cohn is among 60 invitees who will participate in tryouts Monday for the chance to be the Florida Panthers' backup practice goalie for a day.

The Panthers launched the unusual promotion after goalies Roberto Luongo and Al Montoya were both injured in the same game against Toronto on March 3.

Cohn, 55, who made her high school boys' hockey team as a goalie and played for the women's team in college for SUNY at Oswego, tweeted a picture of herself in goalie gear to the Panthers with the message, "I'm available for backup duty." She was inducted into the athletics hall of fame at Oswego State in 2006.

The Panthers' "Goal of a Lifetime" contest has received widespread attention and generated 1,500 applicants, including some from outside Florida. Of those invited, 37 had confirmed they will participate, as of Friday, a team spokesman said.

Panthers goalie coach Robb Tallas, who was signed for emergency duty during the game against the Maple Leafs but didn't play, will oversee the tryouts.

Two finalists will be selected to compete in a shootout that will feature Panthers alumni during the first intermission of Tuesday's game against Montreal. The goaltender with the best performance in the shootout will be selected as the Panthers' back-up practice goalie.

"It promises to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the goaltender who is selected to serve as our team's back-up practice goalie for a day," Tallas said.

The winning goaltender will receive two complimentary tickets for each home game remaining in the 2014-15 regular season, a team-signed jersey and will be featured on Fox Sports Florida during an intermission segment.

Cohn, a diehard Rangers fan, has been a mainstay on SportsCenter since 1992. When the Rangers won the Stanley Cup in 1994, she attended Game 7 and was given the opportunity to drink from the Cup.

"It was one of the best moments of my life, right up there with giving birth to my two children," Cohn said.

She said her most prized possession is a Mark Messier autographed cover of the NY Daily News featuring a photo of him holding the Cup, inscribed, "To Linda one of our greatest fans."

"It's framed and in a place of honor in my den," she said.