Tuesday, January 29, 2008

How To Win Friends And Influence Others - The Emery Edition

Well Ray Emery has stepped in a pile of shit once again and he’s probably finding fewer and fewer people ready to back him up.

We already know that he was four minutes late for a 4 PM practice. Emery says that he thought the session was at Nassau Veterans Coliseum when in fact it was at the Islanders practice facility. Coach John Paddock rightfully told him not to suit up and now it’s up to the team management to figure out how to punish him.

Strangely enough, the person who seemed the most angry was Ottawa Sun scribe Bruce Garrioch. When he finally got a chance to ask the coach a few questions, he went into a self-righteous rage wondering if it was time to suspend Ray for “embarrassing the organization too many times” and seemed to be demanding that Paddock and GM Bryan Murray take swift and harsh action. Paddock would have none of it and simply waved him off with a “no-comment”.

Emery is certainly at fault here and will have to face the repercussions, but to say that Emery has embarrassed the organization is a bit ludicrous. He’s an immature young adult who has showed up late for practice a few times. Hardly earth shattering embarrassment there. He’s been involved in a couple of traffic accidents. Nothing too shocking there. Everyone I know has been in a few.

What is apparent is that Emery has very few friends on the media side of the ledger in Bytown and they are now taking their opportunity to stick the knives in. Emery is known for short and curt interview answers and reporters tend to get their backs up about that after awhile. When Emery screws up, they are not about to soft-peddle their criticism.

Another dimension to this is that fans both love and despise pro-athletes. They love them for what they can do on the ice and on the field, but they secretly harbour a jealousy at the kind of money they make and the lifestyle they maintain. The fact that Emery was late because he was flying back from a Vegas vacation is certainly adding fuel to the fire for indignant Ottawa sports fans.

They see a young multi-millionaire who doesn’t seem to take his job seriously and is gallivanting around the continent to famous hot-spots while the poor fan has to sit at a desk and walk through mid-January winds to get home to their modest homes and apartments. To some, this is unforgivable and Emery has made himself public enemy number one because of it.

Even the Ottawa Sun is running a poll on whether or not the Senators should just waive Emery. Amazingly enough, as of this writing, over 75% have said yes.

But there has to be some common sense here. For one, behavioural problems can be fixed. You don’t necessarily give up on a young and gifted athlete because they can’t get their priorities straight. With some discipline and patience, this can be corrected and it certainly can in Emery’s case. Knee jerk reactions like the one Bruce Garrioch and his loyal legions of scalp demanding fans are espousing will not benefit anyone involved in this situation.

Bryan Murray has been through the wars. He’s seen this type of thing before. There is no reason to close the curtain on the Emery show just yet.

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