Friday, December 28, 2007

Emery Situation Boils Over

Well, as you know, I’ve been defending Ray Emery for a long time on this blog, and I still believe that he should be the man between the pipes for the Senators, despite the great play of Martin Gerber this year. Gerber has worked hard for his success and deserves all the accolades right now but I’m not convinced you want to go into a pressure filled game seven with the mentally fragile Gerber while the ultra-competitive and proven commodity of Ray Emery sits on the bench.

But when captain Daniel Alfredsson feels the need to publicly call out Emery because he’s not working hard enough, it becomes hard for me to defend him anymore.

If you haven’t heard, Emery had a major fit at the end of the game-day skate yesterday before the tilt with the Islanders, smashing his stick and throwing it into the stands (ala Mats Sundin). When John Paddock called out Emery earlier in the year for not working hard in practice, I took it with a grain of salt. Perhaps it was just Paddock’s way of trying to light a fire under him.

Now, according to Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun, Alfie had this to say about Emery:

"To get considered for a start, (the coaching staff) is looking for (Emery) to show that he wants to be in there," said Alfredsson, who didn't see the incident. "You have to work hard in practice to show that you want to play. That's what most players do when they're not playing and the goalies are no different."

Rarely, if ever, has Alfredsson called out a teammate on the record. I’m sure he’s had his issues with some in the past, but being the captain, we can assume he took care of it privately. The fact that Alfie felt the need to say this publicly probably means that all other avenues of communication have either failed or been cut off completely.

That’s not good news. For the team or for Emery.

It might mean that Emery will demand a trade to a team where he can actually get some starts and that would put GM Bryan Murray in a bind. Murray saw first hand what a healthy and motivated Ray Emery can do. But now he might be forced to choose between the two goalies to ensure the harmony of the dressing room and that won’t be an easy choice, despite the almost certain public support of Gerber.

Ottawa, despite being the fourth largest city in the country, and a national capital, is largely conservative and low-key and Martin Gerber’s personality is a lot easier for the average public servant mowing down Ruffles in his townhouse in Kanata to relate to. Emery seems like he’s from outer space to these people with his Hummer and his sharp clothes. They instinctively root for Gerber, despite all hockey logic, because he doesn’t scare them. This town once embraced Patrick Lalime as well before his historic meltdown against the Leafs in 2004.

While everyone might be ready to run Emery out of town on the next bus, it’s important to keep perspective.

Nobody wants another Lalime moment when the chips are down.

If Emery can take Alfie’s advice and turn his head around, the Sens might find themselves with a goalie who has something to prove. If he can’t, then he should start packing his bags right now.
And Senators fans can start praying that Gerber doesn’t turn into another Lalime.


Ben said...

I hear ya. I think Emery's getting a VERY raw deal from the media right now, while they were singing his praises in the playoffs.

I agree about the Lalime references too. I don't give a shit about the regular season. Sure, I love seeing the team win. But the playoffs are what matter... and who's the Sens all-time most successful playoff goaltender? Ray Emery.

Sherry said...

I think the media likes to sensationalize these stories and I think it's good to see some passion from Emery for wanting to play. That being said, if Alfie's coming out and saying something about you it probably means you had better start shaping up. I think Emery's personality is great for hockey and Ottawa, as much as I love the city can stand to loosen up a little.

I wouldn't worry about Emery getting shipped out of town anytime soon though. There's just not a market for goaltenders right now, except maybe in Tampa but with their cap situation they'd probably be hard pressed to make it work. Bryzgalov had to be waived in order to be picked up.