Here's Hoping Ray Emery Isn't the Next Billy Tibbetts

Steve PrudenteCorrespondent IJune 7, 2009

ROSEMONT, IL - DECEMBER 14:  Billy Tibbetts #14 of the Chicago Wolves skates against the San Antonio Rampage at Allstate Arena on December 14, 2005 in Rosemont, Illinois. The Wolves won 4-1.  (Photo by Ross Dettman/Getty Images)

It's been well documented that the Philadelphia Flyers are in talks with former Ottawa Senators goaltender Ray Emery.

It's a subject that's been hotly debated amongst Flyers fans for a number of reasons, including Emery's attitude, his level of talent, his ability to be competitive in a league he hasn't played in for over a year, and others.

Of biggest concern to most are his extracurricular antics, which have sometimes involved teammates, opposing players, and even the law.

And yet, Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren has been defending his decision to talk with Emery despite the concerns that I'm sure he's well aware of.

This situation bears a minor resemblance to an instance that occurred back in the spring of 2002 around the NHL trade deadline. The Flyers were in a terrible scoring slump and looking for a boost before their final push towards the playoffs.

So of course they would go looking for someone that could put the rubber to the twine, right?

Who they ended up adding was a goon by the name of Billy Tibbetts, an oaf who had scored exactly one NHL goal and just six points all season, but had racked up 109 penalty minutes in just 33 games.

If you add in his AHL statistics from that season, his numbers look a little more respectable, with 14 total goals and 22 total assists in 57 total games split between the two leagues. However, he still had a monstrous 302 penalty minutes.

In exchange they dealt Kent Manderville to the Pittsburgh Penguins, a center who was by no means spectacular, but he had some merits. He was a defensive forward, and was nominated for the Selke Trophy in 2001. In fact, in just six games in the 2001 playoffs, Manderville scored just as many goals as Tibbetts did all of the 2002 season: one.

Just by glancing at the stat sheet anyone with half a brain could have seen that this was a raw deal for the Flyers. But hey, it's Philly...we've had goons grow on us and become fan favorites. Just look at Riley Cote.

This time around, that wouldn't be the case. Why? Because Billy Tibbetts' past actions off the ice were so inexcusable that even if he scored 100 goals in a season he deserved to be booed and ridiculed.

Tibbetts had a pretty extensive rap sheet before he got to Philadelphia. He was a convicted rapist, a registered sex offender, had multiple disorderly conduct citations, and had spent over three years in prison. I don't want to act all high and mighty, but that's certainly not the aura I want surrounding the locker room of my team.

Yet management assured us everything was alright, and that Tibbetts was trying to get his life back on track, despite the fact that he had already been suspended by the NHL twice in his short career. One was for sucker-punching an opposing player while said player was sitting on the bench. Stand up guy.

But he suited up for the Flyers anyway, wearing No. 17, a number that had previously been worn by Rod Brind'Amour, Tibbetts' polar opposite. Don't even get me started on that one...

And true to the script that Tibbetts had written for himself, he lived up to it. These statistics are so unbelievable I can barely type them amongst my horrified laughter, but here they are anyway:
Games: 9
Goals: 0
Assists: 1
Plus/Minus: -3
Penalties in Minutes: 69
Time on Ice: 60:15
You read that correctly. He spent more time in the penalty box than he did on the ice in nine games. He averaged nearly eight PIMs a game.

The stats, of course, don't tell the whole story. Tibbetts not only took a lot of penalties, he took a lot of incredibly stupid penalties. He even threw an opposing player into his own goalie. I'm pretty sure that resulted in another suspension.

All in all, Tibbetts' tenure with the Flyers lasted 23 days, and fans couldn't have been happier to see him leave. In the end, the orange and black never got out of their scoring slump, and scored an incredible two goals as they departed the playoffs in the first round at the hands of the Ottawa Senators. That has to be a record.

It's perhaps ironic that the name Senators arose in the midst of all this, as they were the last NHL team that Ray Emery played for.

Now I realize this is an extremist point of view, and in no way am I saying that Emery is anywhere near as troubled an individual as Tibbetts was. This current situation involving the acquisition of a player with a tortured past simply reminded me of some not so fond memories.

However, I have more faith this time. I think that Ray Emery can be a positive pick-up for this organization, provided they use the extra cap space to bolster the defensive corps. I won't say that I have the highest of expectations, but I certainly have much more hope for Emery than I did for Tibbetts.

I sincerely hope that Ray Emery can put his past behind him and show that he can play at the level he did just two years ago when he backstopped the Senators to the Stanley Cup Finals. Here's hoping he can take the next step with the Flyers and help us win the mug next year.

I'm not saying I think it's going to happen, but I can hope.


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