Former Senators goaltender Ray Emery appeared on TSN’s Off The Record this week and among many things was asked if he had a drug problem to which he responded “no”. The tougher question would have been “did you take illegal drugs while an Ottawa Senator”.
There are drug rehab centres jammed with people who for years honestly did not believe they had a drug “problem” but did take drugs regularly. The OTR interview left you with more questions than answers’ relating to Ray’s rumored drug use. That is not the fault of the show’s host Michael Landsberg knowing full well it was not a topic Ray would be willing to entertain in full and open discussion. If he walks off the set, the show is over and that is not good for TSN or its viewers. For all we know Ray may have agreed to be on the show only if the question was posed in that specific manor.
I do not know if Ray did or did not take illegal drugs during his time in Ottawa. I like most others have had many people repeat the many rumors to me. Many ask why the Ottawa media refused to speak openly about the rumors in print or on TV and radio. The reason is a simple one. In this country the laws covering libel, slander and defamation are far different from those in the USA. Down south as long as you slap the word "alledgedly" in front of a sentance you can say almost anything. It does not work that way in Canada. Also in both countries when you get sued you can’t tell the judge “well your honor everyone has heard it”. That is not a defence. Unless you know absolutely and can prove it with presentable, verifiable evidence, the reporter is the one headed to jail not the rumored drug user. I can speak of it now, because Ray himself has spoken of it and my observations are directed at his comments and those alone.
The very positive sign from the interview was that Emery wasn’t using his air time to blame other people. He seems to now at least be willing to consider the possibility that he was the author of his own demise. There was no “Ray Conspiracy” to be mean or unfair to Ray. I still got the sense from his body language and the tone of some answers that he doesn’t believe some of the things he did or didn’t do are that big a deal. That tells me he still believes he should not have to abide by the code of conduct almost every other athlete in a team sport lives by. His new Russian club mates will find out soon enough if that is true or not.
Lastly Ray spoke of some of things he will miss about playing in Ottawa. Saturday night games at Scotiabank Place and the love of hockey in this city. He won’t miss the Ottawa media he says. Ray should be careful what he wishes for. There are many who contend he got a far easier ride here than he would have received in several other NHL cities. I guess he will find that out if or when he ever returns to the NHL. Ray may also learn some valuable lessons about ethnicity while in Russia. Just ask Fred Brathwaite how some Russians treat non-Caucasians. Utterances which could bring out the hate crimes police in Ottawa, I am told can barley raise an eyebrow in some parts of Russia.
I believe Ray has learned many things about himself in the last few months. I believe his time in Russia will teach him many more things about what one misses being in a multi-cultural, multi-lingual, Canadian city in the NHL.
See you at the rink.