For the second year in a row, goaltending has been a hot topic of discussion during the NHL offseason in Chicago. However, this year the debates have nothing to do with who will be the Blackhawks starter.
26-year-old Corey Crawford had a wonderful rookie campaign and, unlike Antti Niemi in the summer of 2010, there is no arbitration ruling to walk away from. Crawford will be the main man between the pipes in 2011-12.
The real debate is over who will be the backup. We thought this was Alexander Salak’s job to lose until Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman invited Ray Emery to try out for the team.
Emery is an intriguing goaltender and an even more interesting human being. The peaks and valleys of his professional hockey career have been as wild and unpredictable as his personality.
On the ice, he went from backstopping the Ottawa Senators to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2007 to losing his starting job the next season to losing an NHL job altogether and being forced to play in Russia.
Then he came back as the prospective starter for the Philadelphia Flyers, only to be forced out of action and onto the surgeon's table to repair a seriously injured hip.
After sitting out for almost a year, he was then signed by the Anaheim Ducks and miraculously played very well in his 10 regular season games for them.
Off the ice, he’s had a propensity for partying, a reputation for showing up late to practice, and a habit of fighting everyone from opponents to teammates to Russian trainers.
But this is why there’s such an inordinate amount of buzz over who will be the backup goaltender in Chicago this year. Ray Emery’s had the type of career that will cause fans to take notice at even the possibility of him playing for their team.
After all, Emery is only in Chicago on a tryout basis. But there are plenty of reasons to believe he can legitimately win the backup job over Alexander Salak. Here are the top seven reasons why he deserves a shot in net for the Blackhawks: