Thursday, July 10, 2008
Sugar Ray Russia's Problem Now...
Living in Ottawa, but not being a Senators' fan, it was rather amusing to read about the real-life soap opera that was taking place in our Nation's Capital last hockey season. The heir apparent to the starting goaltender's position, Ray Emery, made headlines on a frequent and regular basis, but it had little to do with hockey...
There was the tardiness for practice. There was the lack of work ethic. There were altercations with teammates. But people had to see this coming, right?
Let's go back even further...
Ray Emery was drafted by the Senators 99th overall in 2001, and went to Binghamton to play for three seasons, making occasional appearances with the big team during that time. While with the B-Sens, he put up solid, if unspectacular numbers. But, organizationally, he was deemed to be the eventual replacement to Patrick Lalime (or later, Dominik Hasek). The kid had it made!
Now, after an unceremonious farewell was bid to Hasek, who ceded his spot in goal to Emery after being injured at the 2006 Olympic games, Emery was on the fast-track to stardom. He became the team's starter, and helped lead the team to their first ever appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals, where the Sens ran into a behemoth from Anaheim...
During the summer months, he was given his first big money contract, a three-year pact that would see him rake in a total of $9.5-million.
Then, the trouble started...
During training camp, Emery apparently cut off a senior citizen in his big white Hummer, and then proceeded to threaten the old man once he managed to pull up alongside him. The man, who was 65 years old, opted not to press charges on Emery for the incident.
Then, "Sugar" Ray injured his wrist, and it became clear he wouldn't be available to start the season, which gave the green light to Martin Gerber. Emery, unhappy with having to work his way back into the lineup after Gerber showed he was competent, began to be a distraction and nuissance.
He was late for practice on several occasions, including once on Long Island where he claimed to have gone to the wrong arena. John Paddock, who was coach at the time, sent him home.
Then, there were questions of his work ethic, as he would routinely mail it in at practices.
His act wore so thin that he even ended up fighting the team's tough guy, Brian McGrattan (now with Phoenix).
He reportedly also had scraps with Chris Neil and Wade Redden on other occasions.
Through all of this, the Senators finally began to unravel, and found themselves taking a nose-dive from the top of the Eastern Conferece to nearly missing the playoffs. Simply, Ray Emery had created a major rift in the locker-room. Heck, he even could be considered responsible for John Paddock's dismissal!
And what does all this piss and vinegar get you? A paid trip to Siberia.
I'm sure Emery will fit right in over there. Either that, or he'll continue his antics and find himself in some Gulag (I'm sure there's still a few operating secretly over there). I'm hoping for the latter.
Now, I started the article by suggesting we should all have seen this coming from Rayzor. Why?
Well, Emery, after getting the nod as the team's official number one goaltender, had a custom helmet made, as most goalies will do these days... Instead of something representing the team, or some heavy metal graphic, or even Patrick Lalime's "Marvin the Martian" design, Emery went with....
Mike freakin' Tyson!!! Now, I'm not saying Tyson wasn't a good boxer at the peak of his career, but really, what was Emery thinking? Oh, yeah - he was thinking "I'm Ray Emery, a bigshot".
Anyway, the minute I saw that helmet, I knew this kid would be trouble. Sure enough, only a couple years later and he's been bought out, received only 3 offers - which included two-way contract provisions, and is heading for the KHL!
His agent, JP Barry summed it up best:
"Unfortunately, it's only been a short time since the buyout and there isn't anybody willing to give (Emery) a second chance at this time," said Emery's agent J.P. Barry to the Sun Media. "I think if people knew the things that he's done over the last little while to turn the corner, there might be more interest out there."
"Given his offer from Atlant, in Ray's circumstances, we feel the best thing for him to do is play as the No. 1 goalie with this club. Ray is excited about the opportunity and just wants to go back to focusing on being the best goalie that he can be. He knows there will be a lot of pressure, but he's ready for that and he's looking forward to moving on," Barry added.
"It is best for him to get away and to work hard on just being a goalie. He knows that the Russian teams practise very hard, and that is what he needs right now. It is a very competitive league with many talented offensive players. It will be the test that he needs right now to show everyone that he is still an elite goaltender."Good riddance!
On another note, I wanted to point out an article from AOL Fanhouse, written by Jes, about the new Anaheim farm team. No, they're not the Mini-Ducks or anything waterfowl related at all in fact. Presenting: THE IOWA CHOPS! Check it out. It's pretty funny...
2. Allegedly, Emery was a very bad influence on the younger Sens due to his partying lifestyle. I've heard quite a few stories about how Andrej Meszaros got dragged into the party lifestyle and was the biggest factor in his decreased playing efficacy.
For all the shit that the Maple Leafs put up for the way their organization is run (and I say this as a Toronto resident who is NOT a Leafs fan), why do people give the Sens a free ride?
They make the finals under Muckler as GM and Murray as head coach and what happens? They remove the GM who got them their and change head coaches. What kind of moron move is that? Then they bring in guys who can't deal with a late goalie and instead blame ALL their problems on Emery?
Emery's a goof, no doubt, but he has done stupid shit his entire career, and he's got talent. You can't argue that. He was OHL and CHL goalie of the year, then he was AHL goalie of the year, then he brought the Sens to the finals in his first full year. He was a BIG part of that team doing well while playing WAY over their heads.
And of course, people point to his performance this year, but who would play well when you're under so much negative scrutiny from the press AND you'r being blamed for your shitty team's shitty play. Wow, he didn't when when he was put in! Neither did Gerber.
When the team was winning it wasn't an issue. Emery didn't change the way he acted, but when the team went from winning to losing, he's to blame?
He cut off some guy? So what? What does that have to do with hockey? He shows up on a snowmobile? So what? What does that have to do with hockey? He wears a mask with Mike Tyson? SO WHAT? What does that have to do with hockey?
They lost because they had shit defense, shit goaltending and one line of scoring.
If Ottawa thinks they're going to win with Gerber they are in for a BIG shock. If they think that they're simply going to bounce back to form because Ray is gone, again, they are in for a BIG shock.
Go to Russia, Rayzor, play well and come back rejuvinated and when you play Ottawa in the 09/10 season you shove that 'cancer' label up their asses.
Hey, I don't put all the blame on Emery. I simply think his behaviour was a large contributor to what is culturally wrong with this team.
I agree that Ottawa fans give the team a free ride, and shouldn't!
But, I believe Emery is a douchebag, and will defend my right to think so. Sadly, when you continuously make headlines for the wrong reasons, you become a target for things going wrong for the team. Doesn't shock me...
I'm not going to pretend that Emery deserves NO blame, but he had a point when he said that it wasn't a problem when he was winning.
I think the big problem is a lack of leadership. I was really disappointed in Ray's OTR appearance because he did way too much towing the company line. I would have liked to hear him say that Alfredsson isn't much of a leader, because he's NOT.
And while it frustrates me that Ottawa gives the Sens a free ride, but MORE than that is that EVERYONE seems to be giving them all a pass because of Emery.
Everyone just seems content to point to Emery and say he was the problem and everything's going to be ok now. Who knows, they might be a powerhouse again (though with a goalie who lost his job to Emery two years ago and they tried to dump last year, making him their #1 goalie by default since they couldn't get someone they could believe in), but I doubt it. We'll see.
Either way, I hope to see him back in the league in a year, preferably wearing a Northeast Division jersey so he can shut the Sens the fuck out 8 times (or however many games divisional opponents will against one another then).
It doesn't shock me that he was targeted, it just amazes me about the headlines in the first place.
I know it wasn't your intention, but you were damn right about him making headlines for the WRONG REASONS.
Wow, what a jerk he is for buying a Hummer! Who does he think he is? What an asshole, he didn't drive a car to the stadium, he drove a snowmobile! IN THE SNOW!!!He painted his helmet? Bastard! He wore a pin-striped suit! MotherFUCKER! He bleached his hair? OH THE HUMANITY!!!!
Maybe he is a douchebag. PROBABLY, even! Doesn't make it right to make a scapegoat out of him and basically ruin his career.
Secondly, I agree it would be HILARIOUS if he shuts them out 8 times ANY year... (I hate the Sens).
I disagree with you about Alfie's leadership, because he does step up in key moments. I would rather see him with an A, but the C will have to do until Jason Smith really shows up... I am still doubtful on that front, since he can't skate, and Ottawa has nobody to back his non-skating ass up...
But, I digress...
Emery is not a dick for buying a Hummer, but buying a Hummer if you ARE a dick gets you noticed a hell of a lot quicker than if you drove a beemer or a Merc or something... Just sayin'... If you wanna be flashy, live clean, because people notice you when you live flashy...