Goalie controversy caught up with free falling Sens
Thursday, March 6, 2008 | 12:36 PM ET
Another night, another loss for the Ottawa Senators - 3-2 at the hands of the San Jose Sharks.
The Sens have now lost five of their last six and to make matters worse they carried a 1-0 lead into the third before the collapse. Mind you it was an overtime loss and the Sens did manage to pick up a point in the process, but ask everyone in the Ottawa room and they will very much tell you that the game last night felt like a loss.
Make no mistake about it. The Sens are in a free fall and it will be tough to dig themselves out from this hole, although a game tonight against the Los Angeles Kings may be just what the doctor ordered.
Looking back on it, as strange as it might sound, that outstanding start for the team may have been the worst thing that could have happened. Why? Because it started the goalie controversy that has dogged this team all year long.
The facts are the facts: Ray Emery backstopped the Senators to the Stanley Cup finals last season.
He was rewarded with a three-year deal that will pay him more than $3 million US per season.
The team brought in his handpicked goalie coach Eli Wilson in the off-season.
Emery injured himself and was not able to start the season.
Martin Gerber (whom the team tried to trade in the off-season) became the Sens top netminder and backstopped the squad to first place overall in the league (and helped Ottawa win a franchise record eight games in a row).
He was winning, Ottawa was on a roll, so former head coach John Paddock stayed with the hot hand and rode him as a No. 1 even when Emery was healthy again to play.
Emery, obviously felt this was a slight, and that due to the fact that he took them to the finals and was rewarded with a deal with some future, he should be handed the No. 1 role upon his return.
And, as much as people dismiss this notion, it is a long-held belief by many in the industry that as a coach you should never let someone injure themselves out of their position in the lineup. And further, many still maintain that Emery has been mishandled from pretty much day one with the Senators.
After Patrick Lalime was Joe Nieuwendyke’d out of town, many felt the job should have been handed over to the native of Cayuga, Ont.
Nope. Enter Dominik Hasek. And after Hasek’s Olympic experience when he injured his groin, returned to Ottawa and refused to play after just about everyone on the team begged him to do so, it was Emery who saved the Sens’ bacon.
Sure, Emery should have been more of a professional this year.
Yes, he should he bought himself a decent alarm clock. Yes, he should not have mailed it in at practice after practice. And yes, he should have understood the very delicate situation his team was in and actually taken some joy that his team was excelling even without him between the pipes.
In short, Emery needed to be more of a professional.
This is not news.
I’m not counting the Sens out just yet, and they may very well come out of the Eastern Conference again, but this is going to be tough sledding to say the least.
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About the Author
Jeff Marek, one of sports talk radio's brightest stars, is the host of the all-new HNIC Radio on SIRIUS Satellite Radio. A twelve-year sports-talk radio veteran, the Toronto native provides intelligent hockey talk, insight and debate during the two-hour national daily drive-time hockey program.
Well known for his previous work on Leafs Lunch on AM 640 Toronto Radio, Marek is one of sports talk radio's most respected personalities. He joined AM 640 in 2000, hosting The Jeff Marek Show, a nightly open-line talk show, while working as the stations' morning news anchor. He quickly became the director of sports news and joined host Bill Watters on Leafs Lunch.
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