Chicago Blackhawks: Decision Time Looms on Ray Emery's Future with the Team

Jon FromiSenior Analyst IOctober 1, 2011

Ray Emery didn't lock up a job Friday night. Maybe he didn't need to.
Ray Emery didn't lock up a job Friday night. Maybe he didn't need to.Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Chicago Blackhawks have kicked the tires with veteran goaltender Ray Emery in training camp. Now it's decision time.

The 'Hawks had invited Emery to audition for the club on a tryout agreement. That period is expiring today. GM Stan Bowman must either get Emery's name on a contract or let him continue his search for NHL employment.

The clock is ticking as we speak. How will Chicago decide to proceed?

If the choice is to be made solely on on-ice performance, Alexander Salak is the 'Hawks backup goalie. He clearly outperformed Emery in camp. Emery had a lot riding on yesterday's game with Pittsburgh. A solid performance may have won him a job.

While he made some nice saves in the 4-2 loss at the United Center, Emery also had some sloppy moments I'm sure he'd rather have back. That includes a poorly played puck on a Blackhawks power play that led to Matt Cooke getting a gift of a shorthanded goal.

Stopping 15 of 18 shots on goal isn't going to draw rave reviews from the brass or the fans. The argument could be made that the defense in front of Emery could have helped him out more than they did. However, isn't that just singing another chorus of the Marty Turco song we heard so much of last season?

Again, if the team is basing the decision on what transpired on the ice, the 'Hawks and Emery will be parting ways. That may not be the only factor in Emery's future.

Bowman may look at Emery's play as that of a veteran getting in shape for the season and decide that the veteran has answered questions concerning his health. Salak was better in net, but far from overpowering. Getting the majority of the starts in Rockford would probably be best in his development.

If Bowman and the 'Hawks feel strongly enough about grooming Salak, we may see Emery signed sometime today. Emery wasn't lights out Friday night in what amounted to his final audition, but perhaps he didn't need to be.

It all depends on Bowman right now. He's on the clock. Both Emery and Salak will know their fortunes soon enough.