You just know when Jean-Sebastien Giguere is healthy, the job as No. 1 goalie with the Anaheim Ducks is his.
And no matter what Ilya Bryzgalov does in the interim, he will not steal the starter’s job.
Can the same thing be said in Ottawa?
I say, absolutely not.
While it might appear Ray Emery is the odds-on favorite to regain the starter’s role once his wrist is healthy, there is every chance Martin Gerber will have used the time to stake a hold on the job that was his last season before he tanked it early in the year. In his first four games – all victories – Gerber has looked solid, if not outstanding.
There is no denying Emery saved the day last year. He picked up the ball when Gerber fumbled and carried it all the way to the Stanley Cup final.
But let us not forget, it wasn’t necessarily a smooth journey. There were a number of off-ice indiscretions – he was accused of threatening an Ottawa driver in a road rage incident and he slept in and missed a team flight during the playoffs – that leave some wondering about his character.
You can perhaps laugh those things off when the team is on a roll, but they are always filed away and you shouldn’t be surprised when they rear their ugly heads down the road.
Add to that Emery is building a reputation, at least among some journalists, as being, “difficult.” Last season during the final, he often appeared bored at the podium when being asked questions. I found myself thinking, “If you don’t want to be here, then don’t come.” And, truth be told, he didn’t play particularly well in the final. It wasn’t like he was Giguere in the 2003 final, losing in seven games, but winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.
The Senators thought enough of Gerber to sign him to a three-year $11.1-million contract. It looked like they bit off more than they could chew last season, but given Emery’s continuing wrist woes and the team’s wonderful start this season, perhaps some were a little hasty in writing Gerber off.
At the end of the day I think Ray Emery is a fine goaltender who, if he plays his cards properly, has a very bright future. Unsure about Gerber’s ability to bounce back, the Senators re-signed Emery in the off-season to a four-year deal worth nearly $13 million.
Many assumed when that happened, the Senators would make every attempt to peddle Gerber, but the thinking may be changing yet again.
It is a long season and as we have seen in Ottawa, a team’s goaltending can be up one minute and down the next.
With that said, I would not be so quick to anoint Emery King of the Crease in Ottawa.
Mike Brophy’s Double OT appears regularly on The Hockey News.com.
One of THN’s senior writers, Mike Brophy gives you insight and opinion on the world of hockey like no one else. Subscribe to The Hockey News to get Mike’s expertise delivered to you every issue.