Former NHL goaltender Ray Emery has passed away.
Early Sunday evening, Hamilton Police confirmed that the body of Emery, 35, was recovered from the Hamilton harbor, where he was reported missing at 6 a.m. on Sunday morning. The Hamilton Spectator noted that Emery, who is presumed drowned, jumped into the water after visiting with friends at Royal Hamilton Yacht Club.
“They went out for a swim and unfortunately he did not emerge after diving in,” police inspector Marty Schulenberg told The Hamilton Spectator. “We responded along with Hamilton Fire and EMS. Unfortunately, our efforts on the water and in the area just around the piers were met with negative results.”
Emery, a fourth-round pick, 99th overall, of the Ottawa Senators in 2001, broke onto the NHL scene in 2002-03 after spending three seasons with the OHL’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. After shining in a starting role with the AHL’s Binghamton Senators, Emery earned a cup of coffee with the NHL club, where he would again get a brief stint during the 2003-04 season. Emery’s big break came following the lockout campaign, however. In 2005-06, he split time in the Senators’ crease with Dominik Hasek, who Emery would take over from as the No. 1 netminder the following campaign. Emery’s performance during that 2006-07 season was what would put him on the map, too.
In his first campaign as Ottawa’s full-time starter, Emery finished with what was then his career-best SP, a .918 mark, and finished seventh in the league in the category. His regular season performance gave way to a run to the Stanley Cup final, as well, as the high-octane Senators were guided by their offense to within three wins of the sport’s greatest prize with Emery between the pipes. Unfortunately for Emery, his tenure in Ottawa ended shortly thereafter as his play slipped and he was ultimately waived by the Senators.
As a free agent, Emery wound up in the KHL, where he suited up for Atlant Moscow Oblast during the 2008-09 season. His time in the KHL would give way to a split-starting job with the Philadelphia Flyers the following campaign, and Emery would then go on to a career as a backup netminder. His stint in Philadelphia was followed by one campaign with the Anaheim Ducks, two seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks — where he won the Stanley Cup, William M. Jennings Trophy and finished seventh in Vezina Trophy voting in 2012-13 — and another two-year stay with the Philadelphia Flyers. His career ended following the 2015-16 campaign, during which he suited up for the AHL’s Ontario Reign and Toronto Marlies before joining the German League’s Adler Mannheim. Before the season was through, Emery inked a deal to return to the Flyers once again, though he didn’t see any game action.
For many, Emery’s fiery style of play and fearlessness will be what jumps to mind from his playing days. Three of the top YouTube hits when searching for Emery concern not his goaltending but his willingness to drop the gloves, with dustups with fellow goaltenders Martin Biron and Braden Holtby, as well as forwards Josh Gratton and Andrew Peters, among the first to pop up. Emery always seemed to be a willing combatant, and his love of the fight game was well documented. His masks were often adorned with images of famed boxers, including ‘Sugar’ Ray Leonard and Joe Frazier.
But Emery also showed remarkable resilience during his career. Diagnosed during the 2009-10 season with avascular necrosis, which results in the death of bone tissue, Emery was ruled out for the remainder of the campaign and forced to undergo a bone graft to repair a potential career-ending hip issue. At the time his diagnosis was announced, Emery, then 27, said he wasn’t sure if he would play again. It was less than one year later that he signed with the Ducks, with whom he posted a 7-2-0 record, .926 SP and 2.28 GAA across 10 games en route to earning a Masterton Trophy nomination.
Condolences have pored out from around the NHL in the wake of Emery’s passing, including tributes from the NHL Alumni, NHLPA and Toronto Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas, who wrote that Emery’s “smile and intelligence made him a magnetic personality.”
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