This isn’t the only demerit in the Ray Emery file, but it’s among the most relevant to the Ducks:
That incident took place Feb. 10, 2007, almost four years to the day before Emery is set to join the Ducks organization – presuming the goalie clears waivers tomorrow and is assigned to AHL affiliate Syracuse.
Emery was playing for Ottawa at the time, and Ducks center Maxim Lapierre was a rookie with the Montreal Canadiens. The two might not see each other in the same dressing room until late in the season – if Emery gets an NHL call-up at all. Still, it was worth asking Lapierre how he felt about possibly being teammates with Emery.
“I don’t know him, so I can’t really talk about it,” Lapierre said.
Reminded of the incident, he chuckled briefly. “That was long gone in my mind. … I don’t know what to say. I don’t know him at all. I didn’t know he was back in the league.”
Ducks general manager Bob Murray made it clear Monday at Honda Center that signing Emery was more about bolstering the goaltending in Syracuse than Anaheim. He pointed to the Ducks’ history of adding second-tier goalies with NHL experience, and assigning them to the AHL, in the second half of recent seasons. Joey MacDonald arrived from Toronto at the trade deadline last season; in 2008 it was Jean-Sebastien Aubin.
Murray, however, does not view Emery is a second-tier goalie.
“He’s a competitor,” the GM said. “He always competes when he plays. He’s obviously had some problems in the past. But this is also, from all of our background work, I think he’s grown up a whole bunch the last couple years.”
Emery’s hip injury was also a concern, and Murray said he did his homework there, too. “We had to check with the trainer. We had our doctor make a phone call. We had our goalie coach (Pete Peeters) make a phone call to his goalie coach (Eli Wilson). We did all the things we could do to be sure. You can never be sure until he plays games. He’s got to get in games. He hasn’t played in a long time. We won’t be sure until then.”
The very fact that Emery hasn’t played an NHL game since Feb. 1 of last year is why Murray is confident the goalie will clear waivers.
“If somebody … wants to go ahead and put him on their roster – use one of their roster spots, the cap space – he’s on a two way contract,” Murray said. “They can go ahead and do it. He hasn’t played. Go ahead, go for it. It’s different from (Evgeni) Nabokov. Nabokov played this year. We knew he was healthy. It’s a whole different situation.”
Adding Emery would have implications for Syracuse Crunch goalies Timo Pielmeier and Jean-Phillippe Levasseur. One of the two prospects would be on the move, probably to ECHL affiliate Elmira, and Murray said that decision hadn’t been made yet.
Pielmeier is 10-14-1 with a .901 save percentage and 3.33 goals-against average in 27 games. Levasseur is 8-14-3 with a .917 save percentage and 2.81 GAA. Pielmeier is currently playing for Elmira, but that’s primarily because the Jackals are on a rare western road trip this week. Pielmeier could jump in quickly as the backup to Curtis McElhinney if Jonas Hiller misses another game with fatigue-related symptoms.
Hiller skipped practice Monday for another doctor’s visit as he deals with fatigue symptoms. He is still listed as day-to-day. As long as McElhinney is the starter, a healthy Emery would be seen as the more viable NHL backup than Pielmeier in the long term.
First, Emery would have to prove himself by playing some – preferably several – games at the AHL level.
“He wants to play,” Murray said. “He wants to get his career back on track. We’re giving him this opportunity to get his career going again. It’s a win-win here.”