Max Domi didn't want the job. In truth, not many do.
But there were injuries up and down the lineup. Someone had to take the reins.
Not on the ice during the action of a live NHL game, but in warmups as the player tabbed with distributing pucks to teammates.
The task seems simple and straightforward.
It isn't and, with vulcanized rubber flying left and right, comes with heightened risk.
"There's very few guys that want to do that," Domi, a forward with the Chicago Blackhawks, said of the thankless job.
NHL clubs go through largely the same routine before every contest.
Players hit the ice to get a feel for the puck — some without helmets, their hair whipping in the breeze — as music blares in half-empty arenas before going through a series of stretches, stickhandling displays and mostly carbon-copy drills.
Line rushes follow with forwards and defencemen going through the motions of half-hearted breakouts or attempts on goal.
Throughout the entire process, there's a player on each team responsible for collecting pucks in the net after drills and dishing them among his fellow skaters.
It's not for the faint of heart.
"It can be a dangerous job."
"If I don't do that, I wouldn't know what to do in warmups," he said with a smile.
"For me, it's fun. You don't need to skate as much."
When a person holding down the role is injured or moves on, there's that awkward moment when someone — like Domi in the past — has to take charge.
"It's kind of like, 'Oh crap ... gotta step up.'"
The most important part of the job, however, comes after the rush drills when teams form a half-circle inside the blue line and begin blasting shots at the goaltenders one puck at a time.
It might seem random, but there's a hierarchy.
"There is 100 per cent an order," Carolina Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal said. "If you really watch warmup throughout the whole season it's the same passing order, same everything. (Jaccob Slavin's) got a sharp enough mind to remember all that.
"When guys out injured are back in he'll be right on cue."
"First warmup, guys were looking at each other like, 'Who's gonna do it?'" Werenski recalled. "There's a certain order and certain guys get mad if it goes out of order. Definitely a lot of pressure. If you were to ask Jack, he could probably name who he passes to in order.
"It's pretty crazy."
"It's just passed down," Barzal said. "At some point it's gonna have to be a new guy. Bails is a good disher.
"Matt Martin on the other hand..."
Matthews said the role is determined organically with the Leafs.
"There's no vote," he said. "I just know I'm not going to be the guy. I have my own things I like to do. If you're a guy who likes to pass the puck and get all the pucks for the different warmup stuff, that's fine with me."
Ottawa Senators captain Brady Tkachuk flunked his audition.
"Did it once," he said. "Was too quick getting the puck to guys."
In terms of pre-game superstitions, generally, there are too many to list.
Washington Capitals netminder Darcy Kuemper shakes his head at what he's witnessed.
"I've seen it all over the place where guys are getting off the ice at an exact second," he said. "I just go with the flow."
"Nobody really told me," he said. "Stepped on ice and just tried to follow everybody else."
While warmups in the NHL are largely meant as a light skate, that's not the case in Europe.
San Jose Sharks forward Tomas Hertl was reintroduced to sessions that felt more like practice at last spring's world championships.
"I was getting tired," Hertl said. "In the NHL you go no bucket and leave the ice earlier. In Europe everybody stays to the end. There's 15 guys shooting, ice is all messed up.
"Sometimes we do stops and starts."
Hertl said Joe Thornton anointed him San Jose's puck passer early in his career, but he's since handed the job off.
"Hated it," Hertl said. "Scary sometimes."
It takes a certain type.
The best Domi's seen is former teammate Jonathan Drouin.
"Not only good at remembering the order," he said of the Montreal centre. "But probably one of the best sauce passers I've ever seen. Puck looks it's going in the fifth row, but lands perfectly on your stick.
And like the rest of the league's warmup distributors, Drouin also has to be keenly aware of flying objects.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 13, 2023.
Follow @JClipperton_CP on Twitter.
Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press