The hockey world is buzzing with the story that Ray Emery is about to sign with the Philadelphia Flyers and Bryan Murray made some very interesting quotes to Philly.com writer Tim Panaccio:
“He didn’t have many problems on the ice other than there was a little stretch when he didn’t play as well as he had been playing for us,” Murray said. “He’s a good goaltender. He’s a good athlete. He had issues where he tried to do more off the ice than he should have done.”Another anonymous GM had this to say:
Would Emery be a sound investment for the Flyers? Murray was very direct on the matter.
“Well, he wasn’t in Ottawa because he was scrutinized so much,” Murray replied. “He missed a plane in Ottawa and every media person knew about it and wrote about it. When you are late for practice, we have 30 press guys in the stands with TV cameras going. They see that happen."
“Every person deserves a second chance and this guy has cleaned up his act,” the GM said. “Tell me you haven’t done something bad when you were younger and got a second chance? Why should Emery be any different?”
For those of you who have followed this blog over the past two years knows that I've always been a big Ray supporter - and that hasn't changed a bit.
This is a great move by Philly and I suspect Emery will continue to play great, carrying over from his All-Star season in the KHL.
Bryan Murray has made some good moves since admitting defeat and firing Craig Hartsburg.
Among them was hiring a great coach in Cory Clouston who believes in a modern puck-possession game, getting a franchise goalie in Pascal Leclaire and signing 1st round pick Erik Karlsson in hopes of getting the slick young blue-liner into the lineup next season.
But some pitfalls remain ahead.
On paper, the defense still isn’t good enough.
To be considered a contender, you need a clear cut number one guy back there and Ottawa doesn’t have one, no matter how highly you rate Filip Kuba.
For the Senators, it should be Jay Bouwmeester or a similar player through trade - or bust.
Without an upgrade on the blueline, this team should still be good enough to make the playoffs but there is no way they can be considered an elite team anymore. Maybe they get lucky like Carolina and go on a sort of Cinderella run but that's all anyone can hope for at this point.
Yet Murray seems content with his defense core:
"I think our defence is more than adequate now. It's very different than it was at the beginning of last year. We've made our commitments to four or five of them and if we can sign another we will, but my focus is to get a good forward."
He's right. It is more than adequate. But it's not that great either. Murray is in a tough spot due to the cap but if there is even a glimmer of hope to get someone like Bouwmeester, even at a Brian Campbell-esque contract, he should go for it with all the resources he has.
According to the Ottawa Sun, Chris Neil is a lot closer to re-signing in Ottawa than he was when the season ended and that's positive news, if only to avoid Neil donning the Maple Leafs sweater this coming year.
With Brad May teetering on retirement and some money to play with under the cap, getting Neil in the blue and white would be a no-brainer for Burke. The signing would significantly weaken the toughness of their divisional rivals and add a player with a ton of playoff experience to their roster.
With Burke in the same cozy division, this is not the time for Murray to be taking chances with the Senators toughness. Already, Ottawa is the softest team in the NHL outside of Buffalo.
Nobody is going to be afraid to come into Ottawa’s building if Murray doesn't sign Neil or replace him with a suitable player. It’s hard to believe that not long ago, the Senators were probably the toughest team in the NHL with the likes of Zdeno Chara, Brian McGrattan, Neil and Mike Fisher getting in opponents faces. Now only an injury prone Fisher remains. If Jason Smith can't return from his knee injury, this team will get run over every single night.
And if someone mentions Cody Bass as the answer to everything, I might lose my freaking mind. He's got heart, but he's not the same type of player that Neil is. Not by a longshot.
The arrogance of Canadian hockey fans is astounding. We feel it is our divine right to demand that Gary Bettman bow to the wishes of Jim Ballsillie and let him move the Coyotes out of Phoenix and into Hamilton.
Yet these same fans cry and moan that the NHL didn’t do enough to keep the teams in Quebec and Winnipeg. Moving a franchise, no matter where, is heartbreaking for the fans. People in Canada should recognize that and feel some sympathy for loyal Coyotes fans who are going through an uncertain time right now.
If Ballsillie succeeds in his precedent setting back-door style bid, that will lead to all sorts of problems, such as a billionaire deciding that the Senators or the Oilers might look better playing in Las Vegas or Houston.
Letting outsiders decide where the NHL can locate its franchises is sheer lunacy and a terrible omen for Canadian hockey fans. Love him or hate him, Gary Bettman is on the side of stability and reason in this battle.
Hamilton may be a great market for a team, but they should get in line like everyone else.