Razor likely to go under th he knife for wrist injury
Ottawa Senators starting goalie Ray Emery admits to playing hurt for most of the season
Ray Emery’s summer will likely include surgery and a major raise. The Ottawa Senators goaltender yesterday acknowledged that he played most of the past season with an injured left wrist. Asked about whether he would need surgery, Emery nodded.
“I probably will, I think,” he said as Senators players cleared out their lockers at Scotiabank Place. “I still have to see a specialist, but I just stretched some (ligaments) out there early in the year, and it’s still not 100 per cent yet.”
Emery initially hurt the wrist in November, just as he began to take over as the team’s No. 1 goaltender from the struggling Martin Gerber, and he had to limit the number of days he practised between games even as he tried to help the Senators head in the right direction after a slow start.
“The first month (with the injury) was pretty crazy,” Emery said. “After that, it got progressively better towards the end, but I still couldn’t really shoot the puck correctly or anything.”
Emery says the injury forced him to change his technique for catching pucks, and he often took pains to avoid stopping them in the most tender spots around his hand. Several times during practice sessions, he winced when a shot hit him in the wrist area.
“I sort of had to scoop the puck,” he said. “If I caught the puck (in the wrong area), my wrist would kind of roll over and snap.”
His meltdown in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup final against the Anaheim Ducks notwithstanding, Emery was, in many ways, the Senators’ saving grace.
Gerber, signed to a hefty three-year contract worth $11.1 million U.S. as a free agent last summer, was expected to be No. 1 goalie. The idea was that Emery would act as a quality backup who could push Gerber to be at the top of his game. Gerber’s early-season struggles opened the door for Emery, though, and he carried the Senators all the way to the Stanley Cup final.
Soon to become a restricted free agent, Emery is now in line for a huge salary increase, from slightly less than $1 million this past season to between $2.5 million and $3 million per season. If the Senators can’t reach a deal with Emery and his agent, J.P. Barry, Emery is eligible for salary arbitrations.
“I definitely want to be here next year,” Emery said, adding contract talks were “my agent’s job, or whatever. I just show up when they tell me to show up.”
While Emery says the disappointment of losing to the Ducks remains, he says he is able to find positives in helping the Senators play hockey in June for the first time.
“I’m definitely excited about getting a chance to be the No. 1 guy and lead the team to a good year,” he said.
On the flip side, Emery’s success and Gerber’s struggles could land the Senators into a major pickle.
Is it reasonable to expect Emery to come back as the No. 1 netminder, but earn considerably less money than the guy who is sitting on the bench? Gerber has two years and $7.4 million left on his contract.
Stay tuned. Senators general manager John Muckler will certainly try to trade Gerber, hoping to find a trading partner that believes Gerber’s slow start in 2006-07 was just a blip. That said, it’s an awfully expensive gamble for any club.
Gerber didn’t have any answers to questions about his future yesterday.
Asked whether he would like to return, he said, “I don’t think that’s up to me to call.”
At the risk of rehashing the bad memories, Gerber also stated the obvious.
“Things happened the way they did,” he said. “Ray got a chance and he played great. He carried it from then on and he did a great job. He got the ice time, and that’s pretty much it.”
TIME TO TEST THE WATERS
Defenceman Tom Preissing and forward Mike Comrie will become unrestricted free agents July 1, meaning they’ll be able to see if there’s a better fit for them, both financially and in playing time, with one of the other 29 teams. Both players said the experience of advancing to the final with the Senators was amazing, but the chances of them staying in Ottawa would appear to be remote.
“I would like to be back, but I don’t know if it’s realistic,” said Preissing, who could easily double, or even triple, the $600,000 U.S. he made this past season.
Comrie, whose salary was $3 million U.S., will likely look for a team that can slot him in as a No. 2 centre, his most comfortable position. During the playoffs, he served as a second-line right winger for Ottawa.
ADDING UP BUMPS, BRUISES
Comrie says he won’t require surgery on his right shoulder, but he says the injury, which he originally suffered against the New Jersey Devils in the second round, meant he could barely raise his arm during the Senators’ playoff run. … Dany Heatley insists he wasn’t playing through any major injury during the postseason, claiming he was only suffering from the normal ailments NHL players deal with during the two-month playoff grind. … Centre Dean McAmmond, who missed the final two games of the final after receiving a concussion from an elbow by the Ducks’ Chris Pronger, is still feeling some effects from the hit, but has resumed everyday activities. … Centre Mike Fisher nursed a groin injury in the final, and winger Peter Schaefer was dealing with a foot problem. … Centre Antoine Vermette had the line of the day when asked about his hit that separated one of Pronger’s shoulders in Game 5. “He’s scared of me,” said Vermette, who can say that since the Senators only have to play the Ducks once during the 2007-08 regular season.