The National Hockey League is the top level of professional ice hockey in the United States and Canada. And many believe that it's the top level of ice hockey in the world as well.

There are two minor hockey leagues affiliated with the NHL. The American Hockey League is the top level of the minors, followed by the East Coast Hockey League. It's not uncommon for players to Travel back and forth between the different leagues. But for one player, it became a problem.

Pittsburgh Penguins' Casey DeSmith not allowed to join the team

The Pittsburgh Penguins were recently looking to give their regular goalies, Matt Murray and Tristan Jarry, some rest.

A grueling weekend schedule had them playing at night game in Montreal against the Canadiens on January 4th. To be followed by a day game in Pittsburgh versus the Florida Panthers the next day.

Murray, the regular starter, was chosen to play the first game. Back-up goalie Jarry was chosen to start the second game. As such, the Penguins decided to let him stay home rather than travel to Montreal. But that left them without a back-up goalie for that game.

A solution seemed simple enough. Recall goalie Casey DeSmith from the team's AHL affiliate, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. DeSmith also has significant experience in the NHL. But, as documented by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the simple solution turned out to be rather complicated.

Because the call-up would entail international travel to Canada, DeSmith, an American, needed his passport. But ABC reports that DeSmith could not find his passport. As a result, he couldn't re-join the NHL team.

Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan was apparently sympathetic to DeSmith's situation. He called it 'unfortunate' and 'an honest mistake.' Sullivan also said that DeSmith had been having a busy time recently.

Including him getting married and moving into a different house.

DeSmith's misfortune became an opportunity for another player. Finnish-born goalie Emil Larmi was brought up instead. Larmi had been playing with the Penguins' ECHL affiliate, the Wheeling Nailers.

The Penguins' weekend goalie strategy seems to have had mixed results.

They defeated the Penguins in overtime in the first game. However, Jarry struggled in the second game. The Panthers beat the Penguins by a score of 4-1.

DeSmith made his NHL debut in 2017

DeSmith first joined the Penguins organization in 2015, initially with the Nailers. He'd played at the NCAA level with the University of New Hampshire. DeSmith later played in the AHL before beginning his NHL career in 2017.

Despite having been given a contract extension, DeSmith was waived by the Penguins before the 2019-20 season. He ultimately cleared waivers and the Penguins sent him back to the AHL.