Emery goes from hero to zero

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Ottawa Senators goaltender Ray Emery has been making headlines for all the wrong reasons. He’s become the Terrell Owens of the NHL; a comparison to football’s most outspoken agitator guarantees Emery a first-class ticket to the Sin Bin.

Following last week’s return of captain Daniel Alfredsson to Ottawa’s lineup, Senators fans should have rejoiced over the reunion of the team’s high-scoring top line.

On Saturday, Alfredsson, Jason Spezza, and Dany Heatley combined for 15 points in a 6-1 thrashing of the Montreal Canadiens. Instead, Sunday’s newspapers spotlighted Emery’s most recent off-ice tribulations.

Emery was pulled over by Ottawa police last Friday for reportedly cutting off a police cruiser while driving his white Hummer. Not long after the story broke, Emery vehemently denied any wrongdoing.

“He pulled me over for no reason. I question why I get pulled over so much here,” Emery said. He claims he is pulled over three to four times a week when driving in the nation’s capital.

Even if Emery’s claims are true, and the police are targeting the Sens goalie, the story is merely a continuation on Emery’s extra-curricular activities that has distracted media attention away from the team’s on-ice performance.

Last May, as Ottawa charged towards its first Stanley Cup, Emery’s driving was again the focus of media scrutiny. Catching a plane for game five of the Eastern Conference semi-finals, Emery was involved in an accident and missed the team flight to New Jersey. Emery was driving his monstrous white Hummer and was not injured in the collision.

The stories are not limited to the road. During practice, Emery has been involved in separate altercations with teammates Brian McGrattan and Chris Neil this season. On two other occasions, he showed up late for practice and was sent home by coach John Paddock.

These incidents come after he lost his starting spot to Martin Gerber earlier in the year. Ultimately, Emery is fighting for every minute of ice time he gets.

Lately, pro sports teams seem powerless to respond to a player’s inappropriate behaviour. Ottawa’s management tolerates Emery’s distractions because it believes he is too valuable to a Stanley Cup run to trade away.

Emery led the Senators to the Conference finals last year and could take the team one step further this season.

This year, however, Gerber has proven he can shoulder the load, and if Emery doesn’t get his name out of the headlines, he may find himself wearing another jersey before long.

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