Sunday, June 22, 2008

Good bye Ray, hope you find Ray.

The Ray Emery era is over in Ottawa. With the Senators unable to trade the explosive goaltender and then Ray clearing waivers, the path ahead is uncertain. The team will buy him out and he will become an unrestricted free agent available for any team to sign.

Contrary to what some people believe, I think there will be a market out there for Ray but it will be a market drastically different from the deal he is currently losing. Instead of making over 3 million per year on a one-way contract, I think there will be teams which offer him 7 or 8 hundred thousand a year on a 2-way deal. That way if Ray has a melt down or becomes a distraction he can be banished to the minors and his salary will drop to 70 or 80 thousand dollars. He is a good enough player that a few teams will roll the dice on him in the 2-way contract world.

As the Ray era ends I am struck by just how sad all this is. Sad that an athlete with such great promise and ability could have lost his way so badly that his team would rather pay to have him not be with them than pay to have him stay. Sad that his personal off ice issues have so negatively impacted what looked like a blossoming career. Sad that the Senators will lose the first top flight goalie they have ever developed from draft to starter. Sad that a goaltender could lead his team to the final and 1 year later there is no team in the league which will take him at anything but a bargain basement price because they fear his act may corrupt their dressing room.

I am not Dr.Phil but for those of us who are around the team day in day out are convinced that Ray is suffering from a massive identity crisis among other things. Ray grew up on a farm outside of Hamilton listening to country music. Ray’s fashion choices and body language leave most people (who do not know his background) believing he grew up in a large urban American centre listening to rap music. A great many people grow up to lead lifestyles very different from their parents, siblings and friends but Ray routinely put himself under the media and public microscope causing people to wonder what Ray really wanted. He always publicly stated he didn’t want or appreciate attention for anything other than his hockey but Ray found ways each week to put himself in the spotlight.

Note to self. Ways to not remain under the radar:
1-Drive big white Hummer.
3-Eat bugs for cash
4-Fist fight with team mates
5-Get in yelling matches with senior citizens on the highway.
6-Miss team flights
7-Miss team practices.
8-Stand around in practice like a pouting pylon
9-Leave practice early
10-Snarl at media for asking questions about any of the above.

I sincerely hope that Ray finds a way to retrieve his career and find himself as a person. I believe the latter will have the greatest affect on the career reconstruction. As a young, eager player trying to crack the NHL I liked Ray and liked his attitude and competitiveness in the times we spoke. I did not particularly like the angry, brooding malcontent he became and I have no clue how that happened since he stopped speaking to most people who covered the team except in a very superficial, Q&A type of setting. Sitting and chatting with Ray in a hotel lobby just stopped happening and I believe it also stopped happening with many of his team mates. That distance was not a good thing for anyone.

I am not saying Ray needs to make friends with the media or even his new team mates, but Ray I think has to find a way to make friends with himself and his personal demons and worry about hockey after that.

Best of luck Ray and I mean that sincerely.

See you at the rink.


Anonymous said...

I agree with you 100 percent, if he does not change his attitude away from the rink, nothing will change on the ice.

Can you believe last year he wouldnt sign my friends picture, she still liked him. Guess what she asked him a couple of months ago and he gladly signed. He just might be on the right track as a person

Kal Cole said...

Great take Dean.

The Emery situation is one where I see both sides of the arguement. Which one's right is up for debate.

From the Sens POV:
-Ray is not a proven goalie just yet. He's still 'up-and-coming' despite making it to the finals.
-Having two good goalies benefits the team, which is proably why he wasnt given the clear #1 job.
-Being a pro means working hard in practice and continually improving oneself. No late arrivals or tantrums.
-We appreciate his '07 cup run which is why he was rewarded with a $9M contract.

From Ray's POV.
-I came to the rescue in '05-06 when Hasek went down & performed well in the playoffs.
-I once again save the team's bacon in '07 and backstopped the team to the Finals, playing with a bad hand.
-As a result I should be a clear #1 in 07-08 after I came back from wrist surgery.
-Who cares about late arrivals and off-ice eccentricities as long as I stop the puck! You loved my schtik back in '07 and now you dont. Besides arent goalies in general known as weirdos!
-I could have gone to free agency in 07 and signed, probably for less, with the Sens instead. And this is the thanks I get?

Perhaps ray is one of those flamboyant guys who's too colourful for dry, old, stuffy Ottawa. His schtick may be more embraced in places like LA or NY.
I too think he will find a new home with a team which doesn't care what boxer he paints on his helmet.


Anonymous said...

Goodbye Pork Pie