Contrary to popular belief, Carter Hutton and Tre'Davious White have never met. But if you follow social media, that would be hard to believe.
It all began when White, a second-year cornerback for the Buffalo Bills, called Hutton his favorite player while attending a Sabres game earlier this season. He even mistakenly referred to Hutton as "Sutton" and predicted a future All-Star appearance for the goalie.
There was one caveat: Hutton would have to attend the "Tre White Goalie Academy" in Louisiana. Days later, Sabres staff told Hutton about the comment and asked him to play along. That yielded a 97-second comedic video where White donned goalie equipment inside the Bills' practice facility, and Hutton called him "someone I looked up to, idolized."
"Our media staff kind of asked me a few questions at the end of an interview randomly one day, so I kind of just went with it," Hutton, a 32-year-old signed by the Sabres in July, said. "I shot from the hip and it turned out pretty funny, once it came out after I got to see the video of him calling me Sutton. He had no clue. It was all in good fun. I think it was one of those things where it was perfect timing. We were winning and he jumped on board."
Such symmetry is possible because both franchises are owned by Terry and Kim Pegula. Each team under the Pegula Sports and Entertainment umbrella helps promote the other. This project began with White having some old-fashioned fun at a hockey game.
The 23-year-old has never played hockey and hadn't watched much of the sport. He grew up in Shreveport, La., home to the Mudbugs, formerly of the semiprofessional Central Hockey League and now a Tier II junior club.
White never attended a Mudbugs game. Despite the goalie academy gimmick, he had trouble putting on the equipment during the video, which the Bills tweeted on Nov. 15.
— Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) November 15, 2018
In the video, White attends a Sabres game, where he's asked about his favorite player.
"Forty," he answered. "Goalie. Sutton. We just got him, right? Hutton, yeah." Hutton joked that White's been giving him goaltending tips since arriving in Buffalo. The video, produced by One Buffalo, an initiative created by Kim Pegula to unite fans of the Bills, Sabres, Beauts, Bandits and Rochester Americans, was only the beginning.
White tweeted throughout the Sabres' 10-game win streak, calling Hutton his "protege" after a 25-save performance in a 2-1 shootout win against the Winnipeg Jets on Nov. 16.
My Protege Made Me Proud Tonight .. Sutton I Mean HUTTON lol 😂 @CarterHutton
— Tre'Davious White (@TreWhite16) November 17, 2018
"Yeah, but I'm going to stay away from Sabres games, because they've been winning, and the game that I did go to, they lost," White said. "I took on this role with the Tre White Goalie Academy, knowing if the Sabres win, 'Good on Tre.' If the Sabres lose, it's all my fault at the academy."
When the win streak reached six, White credited his goalie academy for Hutton's success and clicking on the attached link – trewhitegoalieacademy.com – sent people to the NFL's Pro Bowl ballot, a fact that Sabres center Evan Rodrigues brought to Hutton's attention.
Hutton stays away from social media. He's going to leave that to White. While Hutton isn't promoting the gimmick, his counterpart has no plans of stopping.
Every since my dog “Sutton” oops I mean @CarterHutton joined the Tre White Goalie Academy @BuffaloSabres have won 6 str8.. I mean I’m no genius but look the work speaks for it self !! 🤷🏾♂️https://t.co/mwTtokjJLc
— Tre'Davious White (@TreWhite16) November 20, 2018
White recently said the two were collaborating on another project. Hutton had no idea what the cornerback was referring to. White posted on Instagram from KeyBank Center on Tuesday afternoon, including a clip showing pucks on the ice with a caption saying, "Told ya'll I'm serious with this."
The next clip appeared to be from inside a meeting room with goalie pads nearby.
Learn from the best at the Tre White Goalie Academy of Louisiana (at Buffalo).
— Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) December 11, 2018
"I got a kick out of it," Hutton said with a laugh. "Something fun to bring the two sports together. He was obviously a good sport. A majority of guys in that position have pretty funny attitudes. I shy away from the social media stuff. I just try to play my position. But it's definitely great. We haven't really had a chance to meet each other yet in person. Other than the hockey school, of course."
News Sports Reporter Jay Skurski contributed to this report.