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Ray Emery skates for the first time since last spring, hopes to make NHL comeback

Oct 29, 2010, 9:40 PM EDT

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As a promising headcase of a goalie for the Ottawa Senators, Ray Emery was known for being as difficult as he was talented. He was also known for eating a cockroach to win a $500 bet with team captain Daniel Aldfredsson, an anecdote that earns a near-mandatory mention whenever I discuss him.

If Emery can make his way back into the NHL – for the second time in only a few years – it might be most accurate to refer to Emery as a resilient battler in the best of ways.

One season after helping the Senators make a run to the Stanley Cup finals, the team let him go thanks to his peculiar attitude and a rough 2007-08 season. (Emery went 12-13-4 with an ugly 89 save percentage a season after playing the best hockey of his career.)

Despite a considerable pedigree and some upside as a young player, no NHL team decided he was worthy of a contract for the 08-09 season, so he was forced to play overseas. He ended up earning enough clout with Atlant in the KHL to gain a second chance with the Philadelphia Flyers last season, only to go down with a hip injury that not only ruined his 09-10 season but some wondered might end his career.

While Emery still has a long way to go from that scary injury, the erstwhile goalie seems determined to earn another opportunity. Sam Carchidi caught up with Emery and shared some details about how his former team might offer him the chance to work his way back at some point.

Former Flyers goalie Ray “Razor” Emery told ESPN.com he will skate next week for the first time since career-threatening hip surgery last spring. The complex operation involved having a bone grafted from the lower part of his leg and being inserted into his hip.
“Usually when you have this type of thing done, they just want you to walk again,” Emery said.
But Emery, 28, a free agent who started his grueling rehab sessions six weeks ago, said he hasn’t abandoned hope of returning to the NHL someday. Emery said the earliest he thought he would be ready to play would be “maybe January.”
Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren has left the door open for Emery.
Holmgren said that Emery is an “NHL longshot” this season, but that the team might let him prove his readiness to return by playing in their minor league system at some point during the 2010-11 season. Emery has had his problems – some based on bad luck, others due to his own swagger/hubris – but it’s difficult to root against him as he tries to make another comeback to the NHL. It might be a while before we hear from him again, but it would be great to see Emery (and his wacky antics) back in the league someday in the near future.
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