May 5, 2009, 1:48 PM EDT
I think we're all appropriately skeptical of the news that the Flyers have contacted the agent for exiled goalie Ray Emery, who played the last season in Russia's KHL after failing to catch on in the NHL upon being waived from Ottawa. Why were NHL teams unwilling to take a chance on him last season? Oh, just a few reasons…
First, he's got a bit of a temper, and he hasn't shown much willingness or ability to curb it in the past. He's fought teammates, opposing goalies and enforcers, and most recently, he punched a staff member for his Russian club over wearing a sponsor's hat. Emery, or Razor as he's often called, has been linked to some reports of recreational drug use, as well as upwards of 30 traffic violations, including a road rage case involving a retiree. He once had a mask designed with Mike Tyson painted on it, wearing it only once before the team asked him not to (Tyson wasn't just a boxer and video game legend, you see; he was also convicted of rape). Emery is tatted up and has a pet python. He won't stand for any BS near his crease, nor anywhere else, for that matter. Bad. Ass. Wikipedia. Entry.
Sounds like a great fit for the town that still idolizes Ron Hextall, right?
Except that this is the new NHL, where players are suspended based on their past transgressions more so than their current actions, and entire teams are admittedly categorized by the league for the actions of individual players. The Flyers' most significant weakness last season probably wasn't the lack of the elusive crease-clearing defenseman or an elite goalie—it was leading the league in penalties. Fans scratched their heads when the team added the NHL's leading PIM-p, Dan Carcillo, wondering how this would help with reducing the amount of time the Flyers spend down a man.
So what effect would adding Emery have? Certainly it wouldn't be fewer penalties taken by the goaltender position, right? Probably not fewer games missed due to suspension either, and I don't think refs will be overly sensitive to invasions of his personal space. He's fought his own teammates in the past, so it's probably not chemistry… Perhaps it's his skill? His career numbers aren't better than those of Biron, although the two aren't far apart, and we'd have to assume that his banishment should drop his salary demands. And that's probably the biggest factor at the moment, given the troubles the Flyers had with the cap last season. In any case, Biron better hope Homer isn't making his decision based on feats of strength.
Sugar Ray did backstop the Sens to the Cup finals appearance in 2007, a promised land the Flyers haven't seen since I was a junior going to Senior Week in Sea Isle. But despite his abilities on the ice, wary NHL teams stayed away from Emery, and they haven't been beating down his door to come back from Moscow. Will the Flyers allow Biron and Nitty to leave as free agents and take a risk signing the Sean Avery of goaltending? Emery is clearly not a sure #1, something that fans in this town are unhappily accustomed to, but I really wouldn't be surprised. Nor would I be surprised if it turned out to be a great signing… but it's not without some enormous potential for calamity.
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