No one has looked forward to spending February in Syracuse, N.Y. more than Ray Emery
The goaltender, who signed a two-way contract with the Anaheim Ducks
on Monday, cleared waivers Tuesday and was sent to the Syracuse Crunch, the Ducks' American Hockey League affiliate, where he'll attempt to come back from a major hip injury.
Emery had surgery in April to repair avascular necrosis in his right hip, a condition which saw the near-complete degradation of the top of the ball in his hip joint. It's the same condition that led to the end of the athletic career of two-sport star Bo Jackson.
"I'm just excited to be back playing again," said Emery. "I realize I had a tough operation and have been away from the game for a while. I felt Anaheim and their organization was a good spot for me to come back. They seemed interested. I'm just lucky to be back and to be able to play some games in the American League and go from there."
"I'm just excited to be back playing again. I realize I had a tough operation and have been away from the game for a while. I felt Anaheim and heir organization was a good spot for me to come back. They seemed interested. I'm just lucky to be back and to be able to play some games in the American League and go from there." -- Ray Emery
has been a solid NHL netminder for several years and is only 28 years old," said Ducks Executive Vice President/General Manager Bob Murray
. "We are going to give him a chance to go to Syracuse and establish himself again. He's worked hard to get back into shape and we are looking forward to seeing what he can do."
Emery's last game was Feb. 1, 2010, when he played for the Philadelphia Flyers
Murray admitted the move is a bit of a gamble, but feels confident Emery will hold up physically.
"We had to check with the trainer," Murray told the Orange County Register. "We had our doctor make a phone call. We had our goalie coach (Pete Peeters
) make a phone call to his goalie coach (Eli Wilson). We did all the things we could to be sure.
"You'll never be sure until he plays games. He's got to get in games. He's got to play games. He hasn't played in a long time. We won't be sure until then. We've had people see him. His goalie coach and his trainer are pretty confident he's ready for the next step. We'll go with that."
During his recovery, Emery said he re-worked his goaltending style to better protect his hip.
"I really tried to revamp my whole body because the reason I was injured before was there were certain small problems in the mechanics in my right side," said Emery. "I feel a lot better than I have in the last five or six years."
Emery needs to have his work visa approved before he can start playing with the Crunch, but added that he'd like to get a few practice sessions under his belt before he played his first game. He's been working out in Toronto with members of the Brampton Battalion of the Ontario Hockey League, as well as recently retired NHL veterans living in the Toronto area, like Eric Lindros
Syracuse has games in Norfolk this weekend and Adirondack next Wednesday before starting a five-game homestand Feb. 18.
"I definitely need to skate this week and get the timing back from professional shooters and seeing a lot of plays, reading plays," said Emery. "I haven't played a professional game in a year. Taking time off, it takes some time to get that back. I'm confident it won't take long, but at the same time I know I need to do my part to get back there."
Murray said he's happy with his goaltending in Anaheim. Hiller played in his first NHL All-Star Game last month, but he also is second in the League in games played (47) and shots faced (1,479) and first in saves (1,361). He had to sit out last Saturday's game after complaining of fatigue and light-headedness. McElhinney, 27, has played just 54 NHL games, and only one in the playoffs. Emery backstopped the Ottawa Senators
to the 2007 Stanley Cup Final -- where they lost to the Ducks -- and is 18-12 in 30 Stanley Cup Playoff games.
Emery said he has no idea what plans the Ducks have for him, and said he isn't worrying about the future right now.
"I don't know where I fit in, but that's fine with me," said Emery. "Right now I'm happy to have an opportunity to start skating with Syracuse and work myself into getting some game time there. Where it ends up after that is out of my hands. I just want to do my best for that team, get my personal game up, help the team win some games and that's where we'll start."
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org