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Blachkaws Camp: Emery makes good first impression in Chicago

by Brian Hedger /
Despite allowing three goals in his first scrimmage appearance with the Blackhawks, veteran goalie Ray Emery looked good to Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville on Saturday.

Emery, who made a comeback last season with the Anaheim Ducks after a rare hip condition threatened his career, is in camp on a tryout offer. If he shows Chicago's coaches and front office what they want to see, Emery, 28, could stick as the team's backup to starter Corey Crawford.

His main competition for the spot is 24-year old goalie Alexander Salak, who was one of the best goalies in the Swedish Elite League last season.

"I like him," Quenneville said of Emery. "I thought he did well. He looked big in the net and looked very composed and confident, as well. He came in at a real important time in Anaheim's season last year and did a great job for them and I likes his approach going into this camp. We'll definitely keep an eye on him because we like what we're seeing."

Emery was beaten on goals by Hawks captain Jonathan Toews – on a partial breakaway – along with scores by center Brandon Pirri and defenseman Shawn Lalonde.

"I'd give myself a B-minus maybe," Emery said, when asked to assess his performance. "I thought I was pretty solid. I'd like to have the last one back, but you have to get your hands back at the start of the year and there's a whole bunch of things going through your head as far as playing the puck and covering rebounds and working through traffic and different things that (are) tough to brush up on over the summer. That's what training camp is for, to work out the kinks. So, overall, things went pretty well."

Emery had surgery to repair a condition called avascular necrosis, which in layman's terms was the deterioration of the top of the ball in his right hip. The surgery could've ended his career and still left him with a long and painful recovery filled with moments of doubt.

Eventually, he made a comeback with the Ducks midway through last season and played in 10 games of the regular season – going 7-2-0 with a 2.28 goals-against average while replacing injured Ducks starter Jonas Hiller, who was battling vertigo.

"I think I'm the only professional athlete missing a fibula right now," Emery quipped. "I was fortunate to have access to the doctors that I did and kind of nip it in the bud before my hip collapsed. I'm really fortunate and excited that I've got another chance."

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