Lukáš Dostál Jan 3, 2024; Anaheim, California, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs left wing Tyler Bertuzzi (59) attempts to shoots the puck against Anaheim Ducks goaltender Lukas Dostal (1) during the first period at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

Lukáš Dostál played out of his mind in the Anaheim Ducks’ overtime loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs Wednesday.

The 23-year-old backup to John Gibson had a career and franchise-high 55 saves in his 39th career NHL game. Perhaps he’s not a household name yet, but the Czech-born goaltender was the league’s Rookie of the Month for October.

While Dostál had the game of his professional career, it was overshadowed by Auston Matthews scoring his NHL-leading 30th goal for the Leafs and his first game-winner of the 2023-24 season.

“It was a little bit (shocking),” Matthews told the media in Anaheim of Dostál’s dominance, via Lance Hornby of The Toronto Sun. “You try and think ‘Next one’s going in, next one’s going in.’ But he played a hell of a game, and you have to tip your hat to him.”

While Matthews had high praise for Dostál, and Dostál’s performance was portrayed in a relatively positive light in Hornby’s article, the Ducks and some fans alike took issue with the publication’s headline for a player that isn’t known by most hockey fans.

Hornby and the Sun referred to Dostál as a “no-name,” which offended many people who saw it as a negative portrayal of the rookie backup goaltender’s accomplishments. But it’s difficult to believe that the name of a backup goalie from one of the NHL’s worst teams is well-known among most casual fans, particularly one who was a third-round draft pick and is experiencing significant time on the ice for the first time in his career.

Still, the Ducks took to social media and lectured the Sun, telling the Toronto publication to “be better” for purposely not including the name of the NHL’s Rookie of the Month for October, as if he was Connor Bedard.

The argument is that “no-name” doesn’t imply disrespect but reflects Dostál’s lack of widespread recognition among casual fans outside Anaheim. It’s fair to point to his limited prior appearances and the Ducks’ struggles contributing to the headline.

One could maintain that using “Rookie of the Month” or his full name wouldn’t necessarily register with wider audiences unfamiliar with the NHL’s lesser-known players, hence opting for a more relatable term like “no-name.” Before this season, Dostál had only played in a few NHL games and had spent most of his time with the San Diego Gulls, Anaheim’s AHL affiliate.

While Dostál’s performance was undeniably impressive, the “no-name” label, though perhaps not malicious, raises questions about recognizing lesser-known athletes, which is certainly fair in this context. However, it’s not like the moniker has always been a terrible insult. It’s one that was embraced by the 1972 Dolphins, the only undefeated team in NFL history, who wore those comments (originally from Dallas Cowboys’ coach Tom Landry) as a badge of honor.

While the debate over “no-name” continues, Dostál’s performance on Wednesday certainly deserves recognition, regardless of his current fame.

[The Toronto Sun]

About Sam Neumann

Since the beginning of 2023, Sam has been a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. A 2021 graduate of Temple University, Sam is a Charlotte native, who currently calls Greenville, South Carolina his home. He also has a love/hate relationship with the New York Mets and Jets.