Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Ray rushes for Russia

The NHL won’t have Ray Emery to kick around anymore, well at least for one season anyways as the NHL’s most mercurial and troubled goaltender of 2007-08 moves on to Russia to ply his trade.

As this season progressed it was Emery who proved to be the largest of distractions for the Ottawa Senators, ending with little fanfare when he found himself placed back on the NHL open market last month, when Ottawa bought out the remaining two years of his contract. The only problem was that nobody it seemed was shopping for an unknown quantity anymore.

For most of June he sat in the off season version of the end of the bench, as team after team took a pass on his potential, more mindful of his troubled press accounts of the last 365 days than any possible skills that he might add to an NHL roster.

Emery would sit back and watch on the June draft mania and then Free agency frenzy, when a large number of the NHL’s goaltenders seemed to be changing jerseys, only to find his phone a lonely machine with only the tunes on his mp3 player to keep him company.

His agent, J.P. Barry, provided the understatement of the off season so far with his declaration that “The reality is that since Ray's buyout, there hasn't been a lot of interest”. So shunned by teams from Anaheim to Washington, Emery has taken his game to Russia.
It probably wasn't the first time that the idea of sending Emery to the Russian front crossed the mind of an Ottawa coach, manager of fan, but in this case the trip is a voluntary experience.

Securing a deal with Atlant Mytishchi of the new Continental Hockey League, where he will earn a tax-free salary of $2-million (U.S.), plus bonuses. We assume a driver will come with the deal, to help avoid some of the much discussed road rage incidents that bedevilled Emery while driving along Ottawa’s Queensway during his stay in the nation’s capital.

The season in Russia will provide him with the opportunity to rebuild the foundation of his career and perhaps one day earn him a second chance in the NHL.

Until then, he’ll be one of the Canadian pioneers of the new Russian league, backed by some pretty impressive money from the Russian energy sector but one with a decidedly different set of circumstances than what the NHL has provided in recent years.

There will be many watching from afar to see how Emery adjusts to life in his new league and if it helps to regain some of that promise that seemed overflowing a few short years ago, or if it’s just the final slide out of pro hockey, the next step on the road to world journeyman, a one day answer to the question; Whatever happened to Ray Emery?

Globe and Mail-- Emery heads to Russia

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