On the day of the skate, as the N.H.L. players arrived at the rink, Ferrara slipped into the facility through a door on the opposite side of the arena. “Snuck in like Batman,” he later joked. Calder had secured all the official gear he could — Blackhawks pants, gloves, a practice jersey, any equipment he could find, Calder recalled, that would help Ferrara appear to be a bona fide member of the team.
Ferrara dressed on his own in a separate locker room. There, he said, he waited. Finally, he donned a Blackhawks helmet with a visor that obscured much of his face, and when the N.H.L. players took the ice and began to glide in circles, Ferrara opened a door to the rink. He hopped onto the ice, lowered his gaze, and hoped no one would notice.
As the cool ice passed beneath him, it was time to prove that he belonged.
The first drill began, and Ferrara gathered a puck while skating toward Blackhawks goalie Jocelyn Thibault, an All-Star who had missed time in previous seasons with concussion-related symptoms. Just two minutes into the practice, Ferrara teed up his first shot to put on net. He…