Tuesday, July 15, 2008

"I don't have a drug problem"

Former Senators goaltender Ray Emery appeared on TSN’s Off The Record this week and among many things was asked if he had a drug problem to which he responded “no”. The tougher question would have been “did you take illegal drugs while an Ottawa Senator”.

There are drug rehab centres jammed with people who for years honestly did not believe they had a drug “problem” but did take drugs regularly. The OTR interview left you with more questions than answers’ relating to Ray’s rumored drug use. That is not the fault of the show’s host Michael Landsberg knowing full well it was not a topic Ray would be willing to entertain in full and open discussion. If he walks off the set, the show is over and that is not good for TSN or its viewers. For all we know Ray may have agreed to be on the show only if the question was posed in that specific manor.

I do not know if Ray did or did not take illegal drugs during his time in Ottawa. I like most others have had many people repeat the many rumors to me. Many ask why the Ottawa media refused to speak openly about the rumors in print or on TV and radio. The reason is a simple one. In this country the laws covering libel, slander and defamation are far different from those in the USA. Down south as long as you slap the word "alledgedly" in front of a sentance you can say almost anything. It does not work that way in Canada. Also in both countries when you get sued you can’t tell the judge “well your honor everyone has heard it”. That is not a defence. Unless you know absolutely and can prove it with presentable, verifiable evidence, the reporter is the one headed to jail not the rumored drug user. I can speak of it now, because Ray himself has spoken of it and my observations are directed at his comments and those alone.

The very positive sign from the interview was that Emery wasn’t using his air time to blame other people. He seems to now at least be willing to consider the possibility that he was the author of his own demise. There was no “Ray Conspiracy” to be mean or unfair to Ray. I still got the sense from his body language and the tone of some answers that he doesn’t believe some of the things he did or didn’t do are that big a deal. That tells me he still believes he should not have to abide by the code of conduct almost every other athlete in a team sport lives by. His new Russian club mates will find out soon enough if that is true or not.

Lastly Ray spoke of some of things he will miss about playing in Ottawa. Saturday night games at Scotiabank Place and the love of hockey in this city. He won’t miss the Ottawa media he says. Ray should be careful what he wishes for. There are many who contend he got a far easier ride here than he would have received in several other NHL cities. I guess he will find that out if or when he ever returns to the NHL. Ray may also learn some valuable lessons about ethnicity while in Russia. Just ask Fred Brathwaite how some Russians treat non-Caucasians. Utterances which could bring out the hate crimes police in Ottawa, I am told can barley raise an eyebrow in some parts of Russia.

I believe Ray has learned many things about himself in the last few months. I believe his time in Russia will teach him many more things about what one misses being in a multi-cultural, multi-lingual, Canadian city in the NHL.

See you at the rink.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Dean..Its about time one you you guys even MENTIONED something about the drugs. Now what about the other guys who left town?

Anonymous said...

Well, at least Emery has a bodyguard in Russia. He might need it because Moscow is very dangerous city.

He can also expect to see couple of bananas on ice when he plays on the road.

Anson Carter faced that when he was touring in Russia during lock-out.

Kal Cole said...

Great take Dean.

Pro sports (not just hockey) is notorious for giving athletes all sorts of second chances. There's always a GM out there willing to take on a 'project' player. Last year at least 35 NFL players have been arrested on a variety of charges. In Baseball, we all know about the many lives of Darryl Strawberry and Doc Gooden. Hockey has its "projects" like Bertuzzi, Theo Fleury and Alex Daigle.

So it appears that there's something drastically wrong with Emery that none of the 29 other teams are willing to take a chance on him. This is a young goalie who was playing in the Finals a year ago!

Maybe the problem is drugs, maybe it's something else. I dont know. Maybe you media guys know what it is, maybe you dont.

Either way Emery still seems like a nice, loose, happy-go-lucky guy. If I had the choice I'd rather hang out with him rather than guarded, boring Sydney crosby.

I just hope he does find his way, if not into the NHL, at least in life.

Anonymous said...

Athletes get 2nd chances because they are extremely talented and most of the world isn't.
Dean you do a great job on your blog.
Thanks a lot

Howie Feltersnatch said...

The sad thing is this guy is probably the best athlete in any locker without putting out much effort. Sens fans were emotionally invested in him & the team. The team felt they gave him ample opportunities to come correct and he didn't. My theory is he learned all this weird behaviour from the league's #1 headcase: Hasek. And that's probably another reason why they bailed on him. They were getting burned once again and wanted to put an end to it.

Anonymous said...

Now that the locker room has been 'cleaned' out, there aren't any excuses for underachievers such as Fisher, Spezza and Heatley.

Ray's personal habits, and those of other players are an open secret in a town like Ottawa. This city is just too small to not run into athletes at least once in your day to day tasks.

That said, the team is out of excuses now, it must return to the Finals or pay a price, both at the box office and in the dressing room.

Anonymous said...

I love people who call guys like Dany Heatley, a back to back 50 goal scorer and the guy named MVP of the recent World Championships, an under-achiever because of one crappy four game series. Heatley is going into the Hall of Fame one day, and Ottawa fans should not take him for granted he's here. He's one of the best players in the NHL.

In a world with Youtube and camera phones, if all the allegations are true about the drug use, you would have thought a pic of Ray Emery with powder coming out of his nostrils would have surfaced by now.

Anonymous said...

YAWNNNN !! Who cares !

This guy is long gonzo - stale news.

Jeff D said...

Hey Dean. Excellent article. I agree with you 100% & appreciate the balanced approach. When Emery sat in Hasek's shadow I was a big supporter of him. He reminded me of a Bernie Parent from a earlier time. I was happy to see him get his shot & help Ottawa to the finals. Unfortunately it would seem that he found something other than hockey & I believe it trashed him here in Ottawa. I have also heard the rumors about him & others who liked to party. I now believe that Mr. Murray has dispatched in one way or another all of the partiers to other locals. Now I am no more an insider to the teams drama than any other fan but I do have one thing that gives me some insight. I am a recovering addict with 3.5 years clean behind me. This does not make me Kreskin but what I saw from Ottawa from the finals until now is a very familiar story. Emery may have been the focus of the problems, but look at a few others who were less than stellar through that time & you can see what to me is a very loud neon sign. I speak at various places around the city to people who are going through the beginnings of the recovery process & I recognize the signs. One could say that I am wrong & I am reading more into it than is there, but I doubt it. As you said Dean many who come through the doors of recovery take a long time to realize that drugs & all that goes with their use is a much bigger problem than they thought. Thanks for a great article & being one of the best voices in hockey.

NHLHobo said...

Emery comes clean-er. Still not a full-on admission of guilt, but getting miles closer to a job in the NHL next season.