Monday, December 15, 2008

The Big Reclamation

There's an insightful article in today's Toronto Star about the KHL, Ray Emery and some of the bizarre circumstances that North Americans find themselves in over there:

"In a holdover from Soviet times, Emery and his teammates must stay on a "base" near their arena the nights before a game. The menu, said Emery's Finnish teammate Esa Pirnes, who played in the NHL with the Los Angeles Kings, hasn't changed in four months.

"I saw Esa put ketchup on his spaghetti and I wondered what he was doing," Emery said. "But they don't put sauce on it and it's impossible to find. It's just plain spaghetti. Now I'm reaching for the ketchup."

There have been other adjustments, like getting used to squads of cheerleaders dancing on platforms right behind his net in some buildings. "You kind of look up and they're right there at ice level."

Ketchup on spaghetti? Dude..... Forget the shoddy medical treatment. That might be the biggest deterrent right there.

Emery's quotes from the rest of the article indicate that he's really beginning to put last season behind him and is showing a level of maturity that was lacking in the past. If he's willing to plow ketchup spaghetti to get his career back on track, that shows some dedication to the game.

Expect "Rayzer", who has put up All-Star numbers in Russia, to make a winning return to the NHL, if not next year, then the next when his contract is expired.

And you know where he might fit? How about Detroit? With Chris Osgood starting to fade and Jimmy Howard on a seemingly eternal learning curve, Emery might be a cheap and ingenious addition to a team that is going to contend for some time. There is no denying his skill and athletic ability and if his head is screwed on straight, he's a top ten goalie in the NHL. That would also give Detroit time to nurture their top 2008 draft pick, goalie Thomas McCollum.

Detroit is pretty decent at reclamation projects. Joey Kocur, Darren McCarty, Daniel Cleary and even Chris Osgood all got second chances with Detroit and all contributed to at least one Stanley Cup championship.

People will laugh at the suggestion, but remember - you heard it here first.


Anonymous said...

Good for Ray. he thought he was a badass here, yeah, but didn't deserve to be run out of town by the media. But, as we've seen, he wasn't the first and won't be the last. I think he'll get his career back on track and become the goalie people here were hoping he would.

Anonymous said...

Actually, I heard Pierre LeBrun speculate that Emery's next destination might be Detroit, a few months ago.

I don't think that any knowledgeable or thoughtful hockey fan would laugh at your suggestion, because you're bang on.

The only thing I take issue with, is branding him a reclamation project. I never thought that his ability was in doubt.

He showed a lack of professional maturity last year, but I don't think that his ability to tend goal was in question.

That being said, our GM showed his management ineptitute by the way he handled the whole situation. We paid Emery to walk away. In fact, he will be a cap hit for the next three years, probably while playing for another NHL team.

There's a reason why Detroit is decent at reclamation projects. Their management team has the emotional maturity to see beyond the controversy, and to assess the pure talent, skill, and potential of the player.

When Ottawa didn't want to deal with Hasek's difficult personality, he found a home in Detroit, and gave them two good years at a low cap hit. No surprise.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 9pm:

ya... Emery had GREAT numbers last year to go along with his shitty attitude.

I hope he does come back and is great, but saying that Murray fucked up is ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

anon @ 7:37am

Emery was nursing an injury at the start of last year. When he was ready to come back, Gerber had settled into the starting goaltender spot.

Most management teams allow their number one goalie to work through the rust after coming off injury. Ottawa didn't do that. They gave Emery a game here and a game there, and let Gerber hang on to the number one spot. Emery felt that after having backstopped his team to the Stanley Cup Finals, he deserved more. Emery got pissed off. You're right, his attitude was unacceptable. He should have been more of a pro about it.

But, management did not handle it properly. Murray's the GM. Ultimately, he's responsible for managing the assets on the club. He's gotta do whatever is necessary to get Emery back on his game, so that he can be either used or traded. As a GM, you gotta preserve the value of your assets.

The last thing you want is for a capable player to walk away for free. It's even worse when you are paying a player off and taking a four year cap hit to have the player leave.

The top management teams in any sport always benefit from the incompetence of others. Look at New England picking up Randy Moss and Corey Dillon, two "malcontents". Look at the Red Wings with Cleary, Hasek, and Larry Murphy. Look at San Jose picking up Thornton after he got the Spezza treatment in Boston.

Eight years ago Yashin was considered a cancer in Ottawa. Look at how the previous management team in Ottawa handled him. They forced him to play, even though his teammates didn't like him and he did not want to be in Ottawa. He showcased his skills, and then even though he had a bad rap, they were able to turn him into Spezza and Chara.

THAT is how you management your assets.

Jalen said...

Rayzer will be a good goaltender in this league again, of that there's little doubt.

I can't stand the way the media in this town criticizes and targets certain players, whether justified or not. Daigle, Yash, Bonk, Emery, Redden, Spezza, even Corvo felt he was targeted by the media.

In doing so, the merry band of media idiots display their hockey incompetence. Example Spezza - in what other hockey market would a 25 year-old top scorer (top 5 ppg since the lockout) that's never been a minus player in a full season of hockey be such a media target?

It's one thing to point out an error or when a player is playing poorly, but targeting sacrifices objectivity. Witness the free pass that Gerber got for so long by the media. Spezza took more heat for his overtime turnover in the first game of the year that resulted in a 2-on-2 (that's right, it wasn't an odd man situation) in which Gerber couldn't stop a shot from the top of the face-off circle.

As for Ray, he was viewed as a key member of the cabal of badapples (Ray, Redden and Gratts)that BM wanted out of here. I have no issue with that as team chemistry is critical particularly in the current NHL whre parity reigns. But for those that bash Ray, please tell me what goaltender we've had in the organization's modern history that was better? What other goalie has backstopped the team to the final?

- Jalen

hambown said...

I agree with you. Ray Emery will win games against the Senators. Thanks a bunch: Paddock, Ottawa Sports Media, assorted Haters.

Anonymous said...

What is the deal with Ottawa fans and Spezza? I've only seen a handful of Senators games, but he seems like a player who sometimes makes a bonehead move (like anyone else) but is so talented it's amazing. Usually when fans dislike a player, he isn't very good or is prone to turnovers at the worst times or can't hit the net with a shot if his life depended on it.

Why the animosity towards a good young goal-scorer? I don't get it.

Anonymous said...

anon @ 10:22pm

I don't know, for sure, why Spezza is such a target. I'll give you my view.

Talented players on the Sens have always been a target on this team. Yashin, Redden, and even Alfredsson have all suffered heavy critisism by the fan base, even when they were productive. I think that it is a vocal minority that gets the hate going and then the inept media propogates it. We've never had an advocate in the media or the management team that pushes back to defend the players, so the negativity snowballs.

I don't think that the negativity is representative of the whole fan base, just a vocal minority. The young fans or kids, love Spezza. I think that even Emery had strong support amongst the younger fans.