question for Ottawa Senators goaltender Ray Emery: Does cockroach taste like
chicken? � Of course now that the Senators are in the Stanley Cup finals for
the first time in modern franchise history-- Emery allowed 10 goals in five
Eastern Conference finals games and made 27 saves to close out the Buffalo
Sabres 3--2 in overtime last Saturday--the goalie told SI he will entertain
questions about hockey only, which means inquiring minds will not get any
gustatory insights about the snack he consumed a year and a half ago on a dare.
(Emery won $500 from captain Daniel Alfredsson for eating a cockroach that had
scurried into their dressing room at Carolina.)
Emery took the
winnings from his six-legged hors d'oeuvre and turned them into a tattoo,
inviting some ink-stained kvetches from the Ottawa media to watch as anger is a
gift was added to his already ink-stained right arm. But apparently this is not
the time for him to deconstruct his tattoos. Nor, presumably, will he talk
python his parents gave him as a gift last Christmas.
?HIS CLOSET FULL
of eye-catching suits, which include a silvery-gray pinstriped number he
trotted out for the clincher against the Sabres and a dark one with thick white
stripes that Senators defenseman Wade Redden calls the Jailbird. "I like
that baby-blue one with the stripe of fabric down the back, [which looks] like
something you might have worn to the prom," says Ottawa center Jason
?THE LIKENESS OF
Mike Tyson he had painted on his mask for a short time last season before
abandoning the look.
?HIS ROLE IN a
brawl against the Sabres in February, when the 6'2", 203-pound netminder
took on--and held his own against--6'4", 240-pound enforcer Andrew
?THE 101 OTHER
THINGS that make the man his teammates call Razor the NHL's conspicuously
Emery oozes style.
More important, he has game. "If he played somewhere in the States, it
would really bring [him] recognition," Spezza says. "He's a flamboyant
guy, but also a really intelligent guy. That's why he can handle all the
distractions that he creates for himself."
In a sport in
which personalities are usually tamped down by peer pressure and the crushing
weight of hockey culture--"Generally we do want them to conform ... [but]
Ray pushes to the outside," Ottawa coach Bryan Murray says-- Emery doesn't
so much march to the beat of his own drummer as waltz to a different orchestra.
But because the goalie wants the focus of this story to be hockey, you should
know that Emery, in his second full NHL season, has become better at moving
laterally and positioning himself and is more judicious in what he calls
"save selection," the technique he uses to stop shots. He largely
credits a personal coach, Eli Wilson, for his improvement, a situation that
could be delicate because the Senators already have a respected goalie coach,
Ron Low. Emery says Low addresses macro goaltending questions such as shooters'
tendencies while Wilson, who started working with Emery last summer, focuses on
the micro issues. (Team brass refer to Wilson merely as Emery's
"friend.") "Ray's done a good job for us," general manager John
Muckler said last Thursday. "He's come a long way. Has he arrived? Probably
not. We feel he can get even better. He's playing on a good team, and the team
has helped him tremendously."
Emery has also
helped Ottawa. Stopping the puck has been a perennial concern for the
franchise, as has the team's postseason swoons. (Given the way the gifted but
fragile Senators used to curl up in the playoffs, their annual highlight films
could have been called Fetal Attraction.) But Emery, 24, seems inured to
pressure. As he seized the No. 1 job from free-agent signee Martin Gerber in
November and became a central figure in the dressing room, the mood lightened.
"It's been fun for guys to see how relaxed he can be and then how focused
he is when the puck drops," says defenseman Chris Phillips. "You say
guys can't just flip a switch, but he's able to."