Flyers sign goalie Ray Emery to compete for starting job

Free-agent goalie Ray Emery will again wear the orange and black after playing with the Blackhawks this past season.
Free-agent goalie Ray Emery will again wear the orange and black after playing with the Blackhawks this past season. (YONG KIM / Staff)
Posted: July 07, 2013

Shortly after signing a one-year, free-agent deal with the Flyers on Friday, Ray Emery said he considered the goaltending duo with Steve Mason to be more of a "tandem relationship" instead of a competition.

Emery compared it with his situation last season with Corey Crawford in Chicago.

"With me and Corey, it was more about the team success, and we both kind of helped each other get better," he said. "As far as I know, that's the best way to treat a goaltending relationship. I'm excited to work with [Mason], teach him what I know about the game and what I've learned about the game, and I'm excited to work with a great young goalie."

If Emery and Mason have the same success as the Blackhawks' goalies in 2013, the Flyers will make a dramatic turnaround. Chicago's goalies had a league-best 2.02 goals-against average.

The Flyers signed Emery to a one-year, $1.65 million deal on the first day of free agency. The deal gives the Flyers one of the lowest-paid goalie tandems in the NHL, a combined $3.15 million for Emery and Mason ($1.5 million).

The two will compete for the starting job in training camp.

"It'll be a battle," Mason said. "He'll be motivated and so will I. It's a good thing for the organization."

The No. 1 goalie spot "will come out in the wash," general manager Paul Holmgren said. "Right now we're happy to have two good goalies."

In the near future, Emery and Mason will skate and work out together near Toronto.

A few years ago, Emery underwent the same type of hip surgery that ended Bo Jackson's two-sport career. He has made a remarkable recovery and last season he had an outstanding year with the Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks, going 17-1 with a 1.94 goals-against average and .922 save percentage. He was injured when the playoffs started, and by the time he recovered, Crawford was playing so well that Chicago coach Joel Quenneville didn't want to change goalies.

Emery, who turns 31 on Sept. 28, played for the Flyers in 2009-10 and compiled a 16-11-1 record, a 2.64 GAA, and .905 save percentage before his hip surgery.

That season "kind of left myself with a funny taste in my mouth about my experience there," said Emery, owner of a career 2.63 GAA and .908 save percentage. "I'm not saying that it wasn't enjoyable. I'm just saying I really felt like we could have done better, and I could have done better."

Mason, 25, was superb in seven games with the Flyers after being acquired from Columbus. He had a 1.90 GAA and .944 save percentage, rebounding after 31/2 dismal seasons with the Blue Jackets.

Emery, sounding more mature and grounded than in his first stint with the Flyers, admitted that when he was younger, he had a "pouty attitude" when he wasn't in the lineup. "Now, you start to realize that if the team is successful, that everyone does well. It's a better working relationship that way."

Nicknamed "Razor," Emery said he picked the Flyers because he didn't feel he would have the opportunity to play much behind Crawford, who led the Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup.

"I feel the writing was on the wall in Chicago, as far as myself goes," he said. ". . . Going forward, it's a chance to maybe play more games than I would have in Chicago."

Emery said he felt comfortable because of his familiarity with the Flyers organization and because he was being reunited with Flyers assistant coach John Paddock, who was his coach in Ottawa.

The Flyers have exceeded the $64.3 million cap, but because of the 10 percent summer cushion, they temporarily have about $1.9 million in space.

Holmgren implied the roster was completed and that it was a long shot the Flyers would re-sign veteran left winger Simon Gagne. If they don't, Tye McGinn might land a roster spot.

"We're sort of capped out," said Holmgren, adding he never had any serious recent talks with Anaheim about Cherry Hill's Bobby Ryan, the high-scoring winger who was dealt to Ottawa on Friday. "We don't have a lot of space here to maneuver unless we were to make some kind of move. That's something I don't think any of us around here want to do right now, because we feel comfortable with our team."

The Flyers did make a minor move, signing free-agent goalie Yann Danis to a one-year, two-way contract. The 6-foot, 185-pound Danis, 32, was 26-15-6 with a 2.59 goals-against average and .911 save percentage last season with the Edmonton Oilers' AHL affiliate, Oklahoma City.

Danis has played in 53 career NHL games with Edmonton, New Jersey, the Islanders, and Montreal, registering a 17-21-4 record with a 2.75 GAA and .910 save percentage.


Contact Sam Carchidi at scarchidi@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @BroadStBull.

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