Controversial goalie Ray Emery, who helped the Ottawa Senators reach the Stanley Cup Finals in 2007 - and who excelled in Russia this season - has drawn interest from the Flyers, general manager Paul Holmgren confirmed yesterday.
"I have spoken with his agent numerous times over the course of the season on various matters, and, yes, Ray's name has come up," Holmgren said.
Known for his hot temper, exotic cars, and extravagant lifestyle, Emery conceded that he was a heavy partyer in a 2008 interview with USA Today. While with Ottawa, he was involved in well-publicized confrontations with teammates.
Emery, 26, nicknamed "Sugar Ray" and "Razor," could not be reached for comment. In the USA Today interview last summer, he was asked to describe his rumored use of recreational drugs.
"I really don't want to go into details," he said. "I'm not a saint and I'm not in jail, either. I think I've learned a lot of lessons. I didn't feel comfortable; I got myself into some bad ways. It took some time to clear my head."
J.P. Barry, Emery's agent, said yesterday that his client had drawn interest from three NHL teams, including the Flyers. He would not name the others.
Barry said Emery "has matured a lot and realized some of the mistakes he has made."
He said the goalie's biggest problem in Ottawa "was dealing with his team and dealing with adversity. Everyone does not deal well with adversity, and he's learned to control his competitive juices."
In late January, however, Emery punched the team trainer during an argument shortly after he was removed from a game with his Russian club, Atlant Moscow. Barry said the trainer was taunting Emery.
In Russia, Emery had a $2 million base salary, along with $500,000 in incentives. He has a similar offer to play another season in Moscow, Barry said.
Barry said it might not take more money to lure Emery back to the NHL, adding that the player was looking for the "best opportunity."
Two years ago, Emery was 12-3 in the first three playoff rounds, sparking the Senators as they reached the Finals, where they fell to Anaheim in five games.
In 2006-07, Emery had a 33-16-6 record, a 2.47 goals-against average, and a .918 save percentage. He was 13-7 in the playoffs. The next season, he slumped to 12-13-4, 3.13 and .890.
The Senators waived him and then bought out his contract after the 2007-08 season.
"I don't think anyone would disagree that Emery is a sound, competitive goalie that just two years ago won 13 playoff games in leading his team to the Stanley Cup Finals," said Holmgren, who admitted to having a soft spot for players who had undergone difficult times.
"Before we look at signing any player, we do our homework on that player, especially with his off-ice lifestyle and work habits," he said.
In one season in Russia's Continental League, Emery posted a 22-8 record, a 1.86 goals-against average, and a .926 save percentage.
The Flyers' two goalies, Marty Biron and Antero Niittymaki, are unrestricted free agents. Since the season ended, Holmgren has had conversations with Biron's agent that he described as ongoing.
Biron's career numbers - a 2.59 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage - are slightly better than Emery's work in parts of five NHL seasons. Emery's numbers are 2.71 and .907.
According to Barry, Emery has changed his lifestyle and is "back to where he needs to be." Barry said he felt "comfortable" that the goalie would pass any drug test.
Breakaways. Defenseman Randy Jones saw a hip specialist yesterday in Nashville and will have surgery next week, the Flyers said. There was no timetable for his recovery. . . . The team said forward Darroll Powe also had his hip examined yesterday. He will be reexamined after two to three weeks of rest to determine if surgery is needed.