Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Blog Blast Past: When it all went wrong for Ray...

Ex-Sens goalie Ray Emery's headed to Russia. It's odd how Emery can't get a job in North America and no one will come out and explicitly say why, especially when Andrew Raycroft can get signed by a NHL club. Mirtle says Emery's been "blacklisted" and Puck Daddy wonders, "Three phone calls from a possible 29 options, for a young goalie with these career stats? Wow." From Sept. 6, 2007, here's the beginning of the end for the goaltender in Ottawa.

Honestly, learning of this just makes us like Ray Emery more. It also deepens suspicion that Rayzer is part of the biggest mismatch between player and market in the NHL:
"He swerved in front of me and started throwing fingers all over the place and so I decided it was time to talk it over. I got mad and started yelling at him. I didn't threaten him. I was just using some regular expletives. I've talked to a couple of people (with the Senators), but I'm not too worried about it. I won the war of words and he got a bit mad. I'm not apologizing or anything."
Emery seems to be too honest by half sometimes. The typical pro-athlete spin control would be to say, "No comment" or "I regret that this reflects badly on the team" and protect the boy-next-door image of NHL players. Instead, Emery owns up to it, acknowledges that he was no angel, but hey, the other guy was worse.

This stirs up more interest in this because it's Ray Emery, not one of the more monochromatic Senators (obviously, this does not apply to Dany Heatley). It furthers his image as someone who some members of the commentariat would describe as flamboyant. (Who's got time to Wiki that on deadline, besides? Flamboyant used to be code for implying someone was gay -- that's probably how the slur flamer got started -- and it might have taken on a racial connotation once it become a no-no for white people to say uppity.)

Emery can flat-out play goal and it seems like the Sens have realized to live and let live. The point is that he's a marked man in the Ottawa region, playing for a small-market team and his tastes and how he lives will always be brought into the story quicker than with anyone else, especially if his game slips. It begs a question: Why would want to keep being an African-Canadian in a white team sport in a very white-bread city? It's easy to imagine Emery tiring of this and preferring to slip into relatively anonymity in the States — someplace like Chicago — or playing in Toronto, where his uniqueness would be just be Ray being Ray instead of being a "cause for concern" among fans.

(UPDATE, Sept. 7: The Citizen and Sun each have more today. Is this the kind of thing that can be resolved with a couple tickets to the first Habs-Sens game?)

Emery argues with driver after highway traffic incident (Ken Warren, Ottawa Citizen)


Pete Toms said...

Brilliant! I have loved Ray Emery ever since he won Alfie's $500 dare to eat a cockroach, and then had his photo splashed on the front page of the Sun getting a tatoo on Rideau Street with the winnings. He instantly became my favorite Sen and he was still the backup goalie!

Other reasons I love Ray Emery - note that NONE of them are in any way related to his hockey performance.

- Tyson on the goalie mask! In Ottawa, the most PC city in the country outside of Vancouver? ( Maybe moreso? ) Oh how I loved how this pissed off the liberal chattering classes in town!

- Dying his hair blonde - a la Sweet Dady Siki (sic?) and having management whack his pee pee and force him to change it back.

- The pimpin ( am I using that expression correctly? ) rides, the orange Lamborgini and the Hummer. Again so unPC in this whitebread city.

- Appearing onstage with Snoop Dog ( or is it Snoop Doggy Dog? ) at the Civic Centre and presenting him with the obligatory hockey sweater ( N's right, jersey is an Americanization ). The kicker, the # on the sweater is the 3 digit police radio code for murder ( I'm guessin in LA ), that Snoop uses in a song(s). Awesome, the first gangsta Sens jersey.

- Not only misses the team flight to a playoff game but signs autographs at the accident scene! Flair!

- Insulting Buffalo nite life ( a misnomer? )

- The white suit(s) and bling

I'm probably forgetting something but Naete you are so bang on with your comments on how refreshing a change this is from the "one game at a time", "they're a quality opponent", yada yada, bore me to tears pablum that the media friendly Sens players ( Alfie, Fisher, Phillips etc. ) mouth. ( In fairness to them, somebody needs to feed the beat writers quotes for their stories, in print or electronic ).

You're also so bang on when you say that in most markets he would garner a fraction of the media attention he gets here. His altercation yesterday was FRONT page news in the Citizen today, in early September no less!

You're also right that when things inevitably go wrong for him here ( all athletes go through tough periods, particulary goalies ), the hoseheads in town will be all over him for his reckless, unprofessional, selfish, whatever behavior.

Kilrea's fine young men like Bell, Boynton & Galbreath (sic?) got off lightly in this town, I think particulary with the press, when they did some nasty stuff off the ice. The tiny cabal that is local sports reporting here won't be nearly as kind to Razor the first time he steps out of line.

Nice work Naete.

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Dennis Prouse said...

I could do without some parts of Ray's act, but for a stuffy, conservative old white guy I am actually more relaxed on this stuff than you might think. No group of 20-something young men is going to be comprised entirely of choir boys, especially when you put a bunch of money in their jeans. (My cousin is RCMP, and was a rookie cop in Fort MacMurray during the first oil boom. He can tell you some stories about what happens when young guys suddenly start making too much money for their own good.)

Do I wish that Ray had shown the judgement to simply stay in his car and forget about it? Sure, but again, Ray isn't the first hot headed young guy in history to get into a road side screaming match. Still, road rage is never a good idea - there are so many ways for those incidents to go horribly bad, and Ray needs to gain the maturity to understand that. What if that crazy old guy had tried to attack him, and Ray had to hurt him to defend himself? What if it was some fellow hot headed young guy, who then pulls out a knife or gun?

Tell you what, though -- the way in which the old guy is now trying to milk this thing has made me more sympathetic to Razor's cause. Did you see that sorry piece in the Citizen this morning? His "life was threatened"? Please...

sager said...

Excellent points, guys, it just seems like this is bigger since it's Rayzer.... if it had been another Senator, other than Heatley or an enforcer such as McGrattan, it blows over pretty fast.

Pete Toms said...

I haven't seen the Sun today but yes the Citizen coverage is way overblown. Emery is on the banner above the fold, Scanlan's column and the piece on the other driver in the City section. Yet another example of how excessive the media coverage of the Sens is in our city.

We'll never know what happened, it's a classic he said / he said thing but Emery - given his celebrity status in town - should not be getting into altercations with ANYBODY in town. Compare the tone of this story to when he had the accident in the spring. In the spring the other motorist(s) were quoted as saying how polite and cooperative yada yada Emery was at the accident, even signing autographs blah, blah. Now we have a retiree all over the paper saying he was threatened etc.

As N pointed out, Emery plays in a fishbowl here, everything he does is scrutinized to death. If the #1 goalie in Columbus ( I have no friggin idea who that is ) has a road rage incident in early Sept. nobody is even aware of it, but this is Ottawa.

Dennis Prouse said...

It's not just Ottawa. Any guy playing in one of the six Canadian cities is going to get heavy scrutiny. It's not all bad. In a Canadian market, a fourth line winger can get local endorsement deals from car dealerships and such. Try that in Atlanta.

Some players love playing in that hockey crazy environment, while some prefer to be in cities where no one cares who you are off the ice. Paul Kariya, for example, who is apparently a bit of a recluse, spurned a much better offer from Edmonton to sign with the Blues for that very reason. (You would have to be a recluse to find St. Louis a good place to live, but I digress.)

Pete Toms said...

Well stated Dennis. I've read similar concerning Doug Gilmour, that after the mania of being a Leaf he enjoyed playing in Jersey where he could do normal stuff like go to the mall or a restaurant with his wife and not be mobbed. You're right, depends on the athlete, some guys can't play in NYC either.

Anonymous said...

Coming to this late but Pete Toms is bang on...Emery was just too visible and too exciting for Ottawa.

I cringed when I saw him going for a tattoo in the papers. Keep that stuff under wraps for cryin out loud, it makes you seem like an extrovert!

With Emery gone, one of the only partying guys on the team is Jason Spezza. I trust Hartsburg and the thirtsomething set can break his will, or the media will have to.

Bland responses, cliches, boring...that's all I want from the Senators.

Even Roy Mlakar is a little too gregarious...with his contract up, maybe an accountant or tax attorney to replace him?

Anonymous said...

On and the coverage of the Senators isn't close to excessive. No one has followed the guys around in their downtime this summer...we need MORE intense media coverage of the Senators, night and day having people following them around.