Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Pro athletes are paid to practise and prepare. They play for free. Ottawa's prodigal puckstopper Ray Emery, at the relatively advanced age of 25, seems to have trouble commiting to that idea -- no more, no less.

He goofed big-time, but please, people -- especially the older gentleman who called into The Team 1200 and called Emery "a rap singer on blades" -- get a little perspective. Try to act like you've read a book without pictures at least once. This is little more than (a) media over-saturation and (b) the impression of a collective impulse by puckheads to make Emery a straw man for all those supposedly selfish, irresponsible black athletes in sports that aren't hockey -- the NFL and (especially) the NBA. The media's not even to blame -- they have to do what they have to do to draw eyeballs. Playing to people's worst impulses does that, ultimately.

Battle of Ontario either captured that perfectly, or at least knew how to pander to its audience:

"Somehow, amongst all of the flashy suits, big cars, and assorted blingery, Ray Emery ran out of money before buying a watch. He was once again late for practice today. No word on whether he lost track of time while playing in the snow."

Right. Presumably, all the other Senators buy suits at Moore's, drive used Honda Civics and their timepieces were birthday gifts from their grandparents, or Jason Spezza.

Like I said before the season: "The point is that (Emery's) a marked man in the Ottawa region ... his tastes and how he lives will always be brought into the story quicker than with anyone else, especially if his game slips."

(The second link from Battle of Ontario takes readers to the Sun Media hockey blog which, as discussed, has a borderline-libelous comment accused the Senators of having several drug users. In fairness, the BoO-birds did point out that even if Emery had driven to the correct rink, he still would have been late.)

This Emery situation -- and judging by his numbers this season, his game has slipped -- will come out in the wash. Meantime, think about why a common knee-jerk reaction was to believe the absolute worst when word came late yesterday afternoon that Emery didn't show up to practice until four minutes after the Senators were on the ice. If it had been a white guy, he would have probably got the Sean Avery treatment: "Typical, what a guy."

Point being: Emery has to skate a line that's twice as fine as it for his more monochromatic teammates. Please keep in that in mind as this saga unfolds.

Emery craps out (Bruce Garrioch, Ottawa Sun)
Emery may have pushed Sens too far (Ken Warren, Ottawa Citizen)

That's all for now. Send your thoughts to neatesager@yahoo.ca.


Pete Toms said...

I already miss Ray, my favorite Sen ever. Ray was even a hot topic on CFRA this AM. I only heard 1 call ( I can't bear any more than that ) and the caller admonishing Ray at one point called him a " boy ". Anybody wanna analyze that?

Anyway, looks like he wants to force his way out. He definitely ain't interested in applying himself presently.

Is Gerber a Stanley Cup champion calibre goalie?

sager said...

Gerber a No. 1 goalie on a Stanley Cup winner? Doubtful.

Dennis Prouse said...

I strongly disagree that there is a race element to this. If this was any other Senators player showing up late all the time, you can bet they would be getting raked over the coals also. Do really think that management or the fans would be any more tolerant of Jason Spezza or Dany Heatley if they were pulling this stunt?

This is Ray's problem -- he sticks out like a sore thumb not because he is black, but because he is the only guy on the team who can't seem to get his freaking act together when it comes to being a responsible pro. 20 other guys managed to get the rink on time - what was Ray's problem? There is nothing racial about insisting that guys get to the rink on time, and take care of business.

One statement Ray made last year was awfully telling. He was asked about something sports related, and his reply was that he really didn't watch or follow sports away from the rink. Maybe some might regard that as being refreshing - to me, it is a red flag. You need to have a passion about what you are doing if you want to win, and Ray flat out doesn't have that passion.

Once again, I reference the line from Bull Durham, when Crash told Nuke that when he won 20 games in the show, he could then have fungus on his shower clogs, because the press would think he was colourful. Until then, it just made him a slob.

Similarly, if Ray was lighting it up out there, posting a .930 save percentage and routinely stealing games, no one would care if he was late to practice occasionally. Sean Avery, for example, gets a pass for some of his off-ice excesses because that guy brings it every night, and plays his role to perfection. He really helped the Rangers when he got there last year, so they are ready to tolerate some of his B.S.

Right now, Ray is struggling. If he wants stuffy middle aged white guys like me to shut our pie holes about his lifestyle and practice habits, then all he has to do is get out there and win. At the end of the day, that's what they pay him to do.

Oh, and ask the members of Canada's Men's Olympic Hockey team from 2006 if Martin Gerber is capable of stealing a game. Just to refresh, Canada outshot Switzerland 49-18, and Gerber turned them all aside. If Chris Osgood can carry a team to the Finals, Martin Gerber sure as hell can.

sager said...

Great Bull Durham reference. That was on TV last night. And who knows, maybe Gerber can get it done, although the Swiss got the same medal in hockey that Canada did.

Emery is screwing up. No one disputes that. He was "colourful" last spring, though, when the Sens were on their way to the Stanley Cup final.

The problem is Sens management eased up, didn't think they had to work as hard. Now they have passengers on the third and fourth line, a suspect back end and a pair of No. 2 goalies.

Getting back to Emery: It seems like people in this market believe there's a cause-and-effect between his sense of style, the music he likes, his tattoos, the car he drives and his poor play and lack of professionalism.

They feel threatened by it. Why? First and foremost it hurts the Senators' Stanley Cup chances (and way too many people here seem to be deriving too much of their self-esteem from that), but it also differs from their tastes and is thus open to attack.

That sounds like a race or class element. It might be minor, but it's there and this is the forum to point it out.

The "blingery" has little to do with Emery messing up, but some people act like it does. It should be examined why that is.

A change of scenery would seem best for Ray.

Dennis Prouse said...

This issue may not be nearly as big a deal in the dressing room as it is on the radio or on the message boards. If that's the case, then the Senators would be well advised to just sit tight. Ray Emery is probably a better backup right now than either Jeff Glass or Brian Elliott. You would have to hope that the carrot and stick of playing time would be enough to motivate him.

If, however, this is becoming a problem in the room, then I would just dump him to be rid of the problem and free up some cap space. Put him on waivers, and let someone claim him. If they don't, then let him rot in Bingo for the rest of the season.

Question -- if the Senators waive him, would in fact someone take a risk on him? Tampa is out. Their ownership is in limbo, and Tortorella would shoot Ray within a week. How about LA or Atlanta? LA is already paying one underachieving goalie not to play for them (Cloutier). Do they take a risk on another?

sager said...

This is where so-called experts are really experts.

Doesn't Atlanta have a fair bit of cap space? Lehtonen is a RFA after this year and Hedberg is mostly filler, so why wouldn't they try to get Ray? You know how GMs always believe they can turn a guy around.

The Atlanta paper's Thrashers blog might be worth keeping an eye on if the Sens make a move.

Pete Toms said...

D, nice rants.

When I asked if Gerber is a championship calibre goalie I wasn't being rhetorical. I'm not a hockey fan, strictly Sens playoff bandwagon jumper. I have to assume he has been good in the past otherwise he wouldn't have gotten the big deal he did from Ottawa. I didn't know, or had forgotten, that he stoned Canada.

As for Ray, sure he's screwin up big time. I do think that the completely over the top reaction to any and everything he has done here the past couple of years says something about our community though...

I agree that it's probably not as big a deal in the room as it is on the radio ( I don't listen to The Team but I can imagine ), on the boards ( again I assume ) and in the papers.

He's Ray, lots of flash & trash, media friendly, good lookin...hockey will be soooo boring here without him.

New reality said...

Practice...We're talkin 'bout practice. I'm sittin here and we're talkin' 'bout practice. – AI

Situation is simple, (for both AI and Ray) you get paid for what you do and they expect you to not only be there on time and do it, but to admit when you make a mistake, own up to it and make it right for the next time.
Too bad for Ray, either his ego or pouting about ice time, is getting in the way of his job and it is affecting his performance and other issues.
You can't tell me that when you didn't like the way you were treated at a job (okay, PLP don't count Sager, we all know about that) you ended up going in late or were a bit slack on a few things.
But you sucked it up when you called on the carpet...seems to me Ray has been called on it a couple times already and now he needs to step up and make it right. It isn't too late, mostly because who else do the Sens having in the stable. But don't wait too long, or it could be a nice trade to Pittsburgh (because Conklin can only last so long...just ask the Oilers).

sager said...

Actually, some people would go into a mope or commit social or professional sabotage when they know they're in hot water. I've done it.