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Re: The Rest of the NHL
« Reply #3090 on: September 21, 2018, 08:17:46 AM »

Domi fighting the Flyer fan is a top 5 hilarious hockey moment for me. Hockey is more fun when there’s such a hatable guy on the ice.


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Re: The Rest of the NHL
« Reply #3091 on: October 01, 2018, 06:56:52 PM »


"A great many of those who 'debunk' traditional...values have in the background values of their own which they believe to be immune from the debunking process."

--C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man

ice grillin you

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Re: The Rest of the NHL
« Reply #3092 on: February 20, 2019, 09:12:35 AM »

youre welcome...another fantastic athletic read...hardcore emo

What really happened to Ray Emery?

Standing​ on the edge, Ray Emery​ measured out the space​ between where he​ was​ and​ where he​ planned​​ to be.

A full-moon night had become dawn and soft light fell across the Royal Hamilton Yacht Club on Hamilton Harbour, a bay off the western end of Lake Ontario. The surface was still, but the water beneath was murky, tinged by the nearby steel mills.

Emery had stripped off his clothes – a leather-trimmed, zip-up sweatshirt and a palm-tree print tank-top – down to his boxers. His frame revealed tattoos across his body. “PSAN,” the first initials of his four family members down the side of his torso. “Anger is a gift,” a personal mantra, on one arm. And, on both sides of his chest, images of phoenixes rising.

He slipped off his Stanley Cup ring, engraved with the Chicago Blackhawks logo, and placed it next to his Louis Vuitton wallet on a table at the stern of the boat where he’d spent the early hours laughing and drinking with friends.

The challenge was nothing new. Emery boasted of his swimming abilities many times. A family video showed him crossing six lengths of a backyard pool underwater on a single breath. He regularly pushed himself to faraway targets at the cottages he rented – including once recently, when he came up short, gasping for air.

For Emery, every marked failure was a step on the course to victory. As with the challenges he’d faced before, he bet he’d find his way through this one.

The other dock was at least 100 feet away. He told a friend wading in the water to move to the left, marking the spot where he’d angle his path beneath the surface.

“I’m coming for you,” he said.

On a full day without sleep, after playing his first hockey game in more than a year and a night out that hit the morning, he took a breath and dove out.

Emery drowned on July 15, 2018, at 35-years-old. The mysterious tragedy capped a fractured narrative, one that followed him throughout his life.

His NHL career had been defined by constant adversity, much of which seemed self-inflicted in his early years. Later, he overcame near-impossible odds to carve out a respectable run as a backup goalie and won the Stanley Cup in 2013.

But Emery struggled to adjust to life after retiring. He grappled with who he was without the game, just as he had while he was in it. He feared growing old and made choices that concerned his family and friends. And, once again, his lowest moments made headlines.

Those who knew Emery – who grew up with him, who played with him, who loved him – say there was much more to him than the headlines suggested. And they believed Emery was rising again, just as he always had before.

This time, however, he couldn’t.

In a small, snow-covered bungalow, next to a lake in Fenelon Falls, Ont., Sharlene Emery has decorated for the holidays as best she can. The tree in the living room is full of unique ornaments, the kind of decals that piece together stories a family carries through the years. Sharlene found it hard to place the memories on the branches.

Christmas was her eldest son’s favourite time of year.

The Emery home is lined with photos that reflect a close-knit family: memories of long summer days by the lake, of cold winter nights warmed by heated board games, and the laughter of three raucous brothers.

Sharlene points to an album, opened to a picture of Ray as a toddler on a dock, fishing with a line tied to a branch.

“He loved fishing. He loved the water,” Sharlene says. “That’s why when Ray passed away in the water, it was like, how did that happen? Ray always swam.”

Sharlene picks up a scrapbook filled with careful handwriting, chronicling the small details of the earliest days of a boy named Raymond Robert Nichols. A trip to the shopping mall, where he rode a mechanical elephant. His first visit to Canada’s Wonderland.

It tells the story of a young, single mother determined to make life work for her infant son. And of a man who came along and loved them both.

Ray Emery’s unique life began just east of where it ended. Three-and-a-half decades ago, along the edge of the same harbour mentioned above, Sharlene Nichols had maneuvered an overhead crane, transporting coils, in the belching smoke and fire of the Dofasco steel mill.

It wasn’t the job she’d dreamed of. But it was secure and steady.

Little came as planned in those early years of adulthood, ever since Sharlene learned she was pregnant at 20. It wasn’t a serious relationship, and the man made it clear he wanted nothing to do with her or the child. He told her to have an abortion. She refused, certain the pregnancy happened for a reason.

On Sept. 28, 1982, Raymond Nichols was born. Sharlene held her baby in her arms and knew she was right: He was the greatest love of her life.

Sharlene left college and went on government support. She found a small apartment and navigated the new reality of their young lives together. She felt the eyes that followed her in the grocery store, watching her as she pushed her child with dark skin and curly hair. It seemed novel to the gawkers that her son was biracial. At first, it made Sharlene angry – but she learned to smile back and match the curiosity with kindness.

Her father, George, was not quite as forgiving. When a Dofasco co-worker made a joke about his white, unwed daughter having a black child, George went over the lunchroom table and pummelled the man.

George landed his daughter the job at the mill. It was tough, gritty work, but Sharlene was up for it. She rode her bike to the foundry each day while her grandmother cared for the little boy at home. She worked the tin mill section, moving steel through the heat for hours, until she could pedal back to that small apartment and her son.

When Raymond turned two, Sharlene brought him to a children’s skating school put on by Dofasco. He wore trainer blades, and they shuffled around the company ice together. In an environment that could be crass and rough, Sharlene became friends with another crane operator who was funny, kind and caring.

At first, it was just friendship. Then just a little more.

Paul Emery was a year younger than Sharlene but seemed more mature and loving than any man she’d met. Eventually, they were attaching love letters to the hooks on their cranes and swinging them across the mill until they could reach out and grab them.

When Sharlene first introduced Paul to her son, the toddler bit him hard in the butt. Through those first few months, whenever they sat close or tried to hold hands, Raymond would wedge himself between the young couple. With time, however, Raymond grew fond of the man who hung around, squirting water guns and playing sports with him. The four-and-a-half-year-old beamed in his grey suit, a little more than a year later, as he walked down the aisle of Sharlene and Paul’s wedding, carrying their rings.

A few months later, Paul legally adopted him. Raymond Nichols became Ray Emery.

For the first time, he had a Dad.

In the weeks that followed their son’s death, Sharlene and Paul Emery took the difficult drive to his house in Ancaster, just outside of Hamilton, to sort through items he’d collected throughout his life. Sharlene was touched by the realization her son had held on to so many items from his past.

“He kept everything,” she said.

Many artifacts chronicled the family’s life in Cayuga, Ont., a small town a half hour from Hamilton. Sharlene and Paul had two more sons, Andy and Nick, who were six and nine years younger than Ray. She quit the steel mill to raise their family while they relied on Paul’s lone income.

There was little to do in Cayuga’s country confines, so sports were a standard outlet. As one of the few black children in the community, Ray later told those close to him that in his youth he struggled with feelings of isolation and, at times, faced ridicule for being different.

But his talent set him apart: He was exceptional at every sport he played.

On the ice, he switched from defence to goal at nine-years-old, and his natural athleticism was impossible to ignore. Word of his talent spread, and he quickly graduated to the highest levels of minor hockey. Sharlene and George became staples at the old wooden barn that the Welland Tigers AAA team played in. As they stood at the railings and loudly expressed their feelings during Ray’s games, mild-mannered Paul sat politely in the stands.

But it was Paul who would wake up at 4 a.m., nudge his son awake and drive him through the cold to practice. After those frigid, predawn skates, they’d rush back to drop Ray off at school, and Paul would head to work.

It was a grind, but Paul never regretted a trip. He and Sharlene did everything they could to give Ray a chance to excel in the game. They sent him to Kenesky’s goalie school in Hamilton each summer, where he spent his days learning the finer points of the position. Unable to afford expensive upgrades to goalie gear, Paul did constant repairs himself, welding broken points in the cage of his son’s helmet and gluing in pieces of rubber when padding fell out.

A unique bond grew between Ray and Paul in those years. Sharlene sometimes wondered if her son would ever want to learn more about his biological father. The man had spent some time in jail, she says, but she didn’t know where he was — and she didn’t want his influence in her son’s life. Still, it worried Sharlene when she learned Ray had been telling people his biological father was dead. She told him she couldn’t be sure if he was alive, but that if he ever wanted to, she’d understand if he went looking for him. Ray told her he didn’t care to.

Years later, he wondered about his own DNA and what he described as an inner “fire” he couldn’t comprehend. But Ray resisted tracking down his biological father.

Paul was the most important man in his life, he’d say — the only father he needed.

When Ray was old enough to play junior hockey, he and Paul drove from camp to camp trying to find a spot. But Ray was cut from seven different teams. The constant rejection stung, and, at 16, he told his parents he wanted to quit. They encouraged him to stick with it. Finally, after the season started, he landed a spot with the Dunnville Terriers, a Junior C team in a league that was short on talent but heavy on brawls.

The Terriers were terrible. Ray often faced more than 60 shots a game. They won three games the entire season and Ray posted a 6.36 goals-against average. That summer, despite his less than stellar numbers, Emery was invited to a prospects camp put on by player agent J.P. Barry.

Barry was impressed by Emery’s drive. Even though he needed work on the technical side of his game, the veteran NHL agent believed Emery had enough potential to make it.

The Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds selected Emery in the fifth round of the OHL draft that year. The following spring, he carried them to the conference finals. The next season, he was named the Greyhounds’ MVP.

Even with his rising success, the weight of OHL hockey was sometimes hard. Relentlessly competitive, Emery didn’t handle slumps well. And in some rinks, fans fired racists taunts at him. During a game in North Bay, one shouted: “Put the black kid in – he sucks!” Emery found the incident amusing.

But he also faced racism on the ice, as players sought to provoke him. One opponent was suspended four games when a referee heard him call Emery a monkey.

Emery wasn’t expected to be selected in the first round of the 2001 NHL draft, but he made sure he was at the event in Sunrise, Fla. He believed he’d hear his name. His mother and father, Grandpa George, and brother Nick made the trip, too. As each selection passed without Emery’s name being called, they grew more concerned that he might not be picked.

Finally, in the fourth round, 99th overall, the Ottawa Senators selected him. The kid from Cayuga, who’d been overlooked by seven junior teams, was going to the NHL.

Just like he said.

At his Ancaster home, Emery kept a collection of his old masks in glass cases. Most carried his nickname, Razor, and were painted with his favourite designs – like the one with the image of boxers Marvin Hagler and Jack Johnson. He also kept discs with old television interviews and articles that told the story of his rollercoaster of an NHL career. There are action shots that chronicle his rising fame, including several of him mid-fight, like his infamous scrap with Sabres goalie Martin Biron.

Emery often smiled as he fought, seeming to enjoy the sport of it. He told friends about the motivation that anger provided when harnessed.

Emery was a rising talent in Ottawa. It was clear early he had the potential to be an NHL starter. He helped the team to the Stanley Cup final in 2007, his second NHL season, and was rewarded with a three-year, $9.5-million contract that summer.

At the same time, Emery’s behaviour off the ice created tension with the team and headlines in the press. He hung out with friends he later admitted were a bad influence. Rumours of partying and substance abuse swirled. He was late for practices. He clashed with coaches. He was called out publicly by teammates, including Daniel Alfredsson. Management asked Emery if he had an issue with drugs. Barry cut him as a client after the embattled goalie repeatedly ignored his calls.

A year after signing his lucrative contract, Emery was bought out. He was out of the league.

It was a long way to fall, which only made his eventual return more spectacular. This seemed to be where Emery thrived, on the edge of losing everything he’d worked for. After being released from the Senators, Emery admitted that he’d lost track of his priorities. He went to counselling. He apologized to Barry, and the agent agreed to represent him again.

Emery spent the next season in the KHL, which was one of the loneliest experiences of his life. But he returned to the NHL the following season, on a one-year, $1.5-million contract with the Philadelphia Flyers. That winter, just when it seemed like he’d fought his way back, Emery was diagnosed with avascular necrosis, a degenerative hip disorder that not only threatened his career but also his ability to walk.

Emery underwent controversial surgery, in which a piece of his fibula was grafted to his femur to reintroduce blood supply to his hip.

After being bedridden for more than a month in excruciating pain, Emery spent that summer at a cottage, stuck in a cast and driving around in a golf cart. Around that time, he began a relationship with Canadian pop singer Keshia Chanté.

She visited him at the cottage and was struck by how fun and dynamic Emery was, despite his pain and the uncertainty of his future. They connected over a shared love of music. He was an expert on every genre, from country to hip hop, Chanté says. (His all-time favourite song was “Into the Mystic” by Van Morrison – and he could sing along to everything from Joss Stone to Jay Z.)

Emery even wrote his own lyrics and considered studying to become a producer.

Beyond shared interests, Chanté found they also understood each other in ways that were hard for others to comprehend.

“We related because we both didn’t really know where we belonged in the world,” Chanté says. “That happens to a lot of people who are biracial: You’re never really black enough for black people, and you never really feel like you belong in a white crowd. It’s a really weird dynamic, and it’s really difficult to understand. But he struggled with that.”

Although he didn’t like to talk about race, Emery feared not belonging, Chanté says. Because of that, he seemed to only reveal himself in fragments. He rarely gave people everything while finding a way to seemingly belong with everyone.

“He gave everybody certain layers of himself, but nobody got to know him fully, the way that I got to know him,” Chanté says. “With his friends, they would get the funny Ray, the macho Ray. Some people would get Ray’s ego. They wouldn’t get Ray. His family got the family person who was really into making memories and having quality time with them. But the Ray that I got to see, he was complicated and he was dynamic. But he was so loving. He was affectionate. He was so passionate.”

Emery also found it hard to say no. He liked to please people and wanted to include his friends in the glamorous life he’d achieved. He openly admitted that his social life and poor choices distracted him through the early part of his career, but he also expressed frustration for how he’d been portrayed in Ottawa. He felt he’d been targeted and made into something he wasn’t.

The resentment helped fuel Emery’s desire to return and prove doubters wrong. And his fiery competitiveness kept him going. Despite being told there was a chance he’d never walk again, Emery swore he’d make it back to the NHL – and that when he did, he wouldn’t squander it.

As soon as Emery was able to walk on his own, he contacted performance coach Matt Nichol to help him get back in playing shape. At first, Nichol wasn’t sure. Emery’s reputation was one thing. But it would be difficult to get him to a place where he could make basic movements, let alone back to a level capable of playing in the NHL.

Even if he did, it was unlikely a team would take a chance on him, given his past. When Nichol told him about his reservations, Emery stared into his eyes.

“You fix my hip,” he said. “I’ll worry about playing in the NHL.”

Emery worked in Nichol’s gym twice a day for hours at a time, doing monotonous, repetitive, painful rehab. Slowly, he pushed through the frustration and learned how to move like a goalie again, working alongside his friend and coach Eli Wilson. He ran through exercises in the pool. He underwent daily acupuncture. When he was able, he practiced dance moves at the National Ballet of Canada.

Within five months, Emery signed with the Anaheim Ducks and helped push them into the 2011 playoffs, earning a nomination for the Bill Masterton Trophy.

“I’m still not sure how he did it,” Nichol says.

After Anaheim, Emery found a home in Chicago as a second goalie with the Blackhawks. During the 2012-13 season, he stepped in to replace injured starter Corey Crawford in the second half, at one point winning 10 straight games. He backed-up Crawford throughout the playoffs as the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup.

Before the final hockey game of his life, Emery sent his family a message. It was a group text with an Instagram post promoting the charity event he’d been invited to play in. It featured a photo of him with the Flyers, his last NHL team.

“Home town vet RAY EMERY will be between the pipes!!” Zac Rinaldo, his former teammate and organizer of the fundraiser to help fight child hunger, had typed beneath the post.

“Wish me luck…” Emery wrote to his family. “Hope I don’t pop a hip…”

“Good luck,” his brother Andy replied, with an emoji of an old man.

The years following Emery’s final season with the Flyers had been hard. He posted a disappointing .894 save percentage in 31 games that year, as it became apparent he could no longer rely on his athleticism, especially as his hip nagged him.

As a free agent the next summer, Emery received no offers from NHL teams. That September, Emery was invited to skate with the Tampa Bay Lightning, hoping for one last shot at sticking in the league.

Chanté made the journey with him. The idea of life after the game was difficult for Emery, she says. He hated the idea of breaking down physically and not being able to do the remarkable things that previously defined his life. He worried about his mind still working while his body couldn’t.

The phone rang on September 28, which was Emery’s 33rd birthday. The Lightning told him there wasn’t a spot for him on the roster. As he hung up, tears welled in his eyes.

Emery then began to crisscross the continent, hoping for another path to extend his NHL career. He took a tryout contract with the AHL’s Ontario Reign. When that was done, he returned home and practiced with the OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs. He looked to Russia, signing a contract with Admiral Vladivostok of the KHL, before the deal fell through.

Just before Christmas, Toronto Marlies GM Kyle Dubas asked Emery if he would join the team on a tryout. Dubas was a teenager working for the Greyhounds when Emery had starred in Sault Ste Marie. The Marlies were shorthanded in goal because of injuries, so it was unlikely the role would be permanent.

Emery played three games with Marlies. Then, he and Chanté moved to Europe, where he signed a deal to play with the Mannheim Eagles in the German league.

Of all the valleys Emery had been in before, the looming end of his career was the hardest. Life after hockey is often difficult for players who spend so much time in the insular culture of the game. While Emery didn’t love hockey the all-consuming way some players do, he thrived in the highs and lows of life in the show. He craved the competition. And the physicality that helped him get rid of the “fire in his chest,” Chanté says.

Emery felt comfortable in the brotherhood. He knew he fit in a locker room.

He tried to settle into retired life. He golfed often, returning to a sport he’d loved since he was a teenager. He dabbled in a variety of ventures, thinking about new careers to embark on. As always, Emery hung out with friends from all areas of his life. He was the kind of person who was as loyal to a middle-school buddy from Cayuga as he was to his closest NHL teammates, gregarious and generous with any of them, all the same. And he was quick to add to his ever-growing circle.

Emery created a world where it seemed like he had everything under control, says Chanté. But his social life strained their relationship. His life lacked structure without the NHL, she says, even though few people saw that he was struggling. Chanté feared Emery was filling the void by staying out late with friends, indulging in questionable behaviour. She worried something might happen to him, and he might not make it home.

“You only get a year to be retired,” Chanté told Emery. “I can’t do the summer that never ends.”

Sharlene Emery worried, too. She leaned on her faith, hoping her son would find his way out of a lifestyle she didn’t agree with. But there was little more she could do.

“You’re either going one way or you’re going to choose another way. And for Ray, he didn’t find his own way. And he got lost. I know he got lost. He was using things that maybe he shouldn’t have,” Sharlene says. “As a mom, as a parent, we talked about it, we had to be there for him, we had family that were trying to be there for him – and I think at times I saw glimpses of him being so successful and being content with himself. But then I saw other times where he was struggling.”

In June, 2017, Emery’s seven-year relationship with Chanté ended when she called off their wedding. Emery was devastated. It was a difficult, fiery breakup. Things got worse that fall when photos alleging to show Emery using cocaine in a hotel room were posted on a gossip website.

Then, in October, Chanté sought a restraining order against Emery, based on what she described as a series of frightening incidents and a threatening message he left her while inebriated.

“It was very scary,” Chanté says. “I did what I needed to do to protect myself. The goal was never for Ray to get charged, for Ray to have a record, or for Ray to never be able to work again. I was very clear – I just wanted a restraining order.”

Hamilton police believed the evidence she provided was grounds to charge Emery with assault with a weapon and uttering threats. He spent a night in jail. The charges were later dismissed when he completed mandated anger management counselling, at Chanté’s request.

“It was sad that it became public,” she says, “Because it wasn’t really anyone’s business. And that added more fuel to the fire.”

In the aftermath of the breakup, the gossipy headlines, and his own behaviour, Emery found himself in another dark place. He spent time with his family. He spoke to Sharlene about concerns he was growing old. She worried about his self-esteem.

He seemed stuck, unsure of where life would take him next.

But, as the months passed, Emery started to piece his future together. He was dating someone new — and, he told his family, was starting to feel good about where his path was heading.  He made plans to move to London, Ont., where his former teammate and close friend Dave Bolland lived. He intended to study financial management and join a firm that one of his friends owned.

That November, Emery helped his parents move his brother Andy from Toronto to Ottawa, where he was setting up his legal practice. When the family gathered at Christmas, Emery joked that, at 35, he was too old for a stocking from Santa, then played a board game that slapped pie in his face. Later that winter, Emery went ice fishing with his parents on Georgian Bay, sitting out in the hut chatting for hours. On Mother’s Day, he agreed to go to church with Sharlene, which was something he had always avoided.

Emery and Chanté also met in Toronto and spent a day together in the spring, talking through their conflict.

“We rehashed everything in detail,” Chanté says. “It was a tough day.”

It was filled with anger, tears, and frustration. But the meeting brought some closure to the turmoil they’d endured, and for Chanté, some hope for a reconciled future.

Emery woke up early on the morning of July 14, 2018, and drove to Toronto to work with a group of young goalies for a few hours. He arrived back home in Hamilton early in the afternoon.

Mark Nicholson, a 51-year-old friend known as “Worm,” had been living at Emery’s place for several weeks and was asleep on the couch. Emery met Nicholson through mutual friends in Hamilton more than a dozen years earlier. He woke Nicholson up and asked him to give him a hand getting ready for the charity game that evening.

They searched through the cold storage room in his basement, where Emery kept all his old gear. He settled on a pair of white pads with black trim and a mask he wore with the Flyers. He loaded his gear into his white Dodge Ram and drove to the Gateway Ice Centre in Stoney Creek, Ont. He arrived two hours before puck drop, needing time to warm-up his surgically-repaired hip.

In the dressing room, Emery smiled and laughed with his former NHL colleagues. Marlies veteran Rich Clune, an old teammate, snapped a photo of Emery as he tied his skates. His face was full and carried signs of his looming middle age. But in spirit, Emery seemed young and vibrant. He told his friends about the new ventures he was excited to pursue. He was looking forward to what came next.

The charity game wasn’t a defensive battle on the ice, but Emery held his own, making several big saves as the packed crowd cheered.  Afterward, he sipped a beer with his pals as fans lined up to get their autographs. The group headed out to join an after-party at another bar.

Before he left, Emery noticed a fan, maybe 12-years-old, wearing a Hamilton minor hockey sweater with 30 – a goalie’s number – on it. He walked over and handed him his autographed game-worn sweater. Emery shook the boy’s hand and left the arena.

The afterparty was hosted at Koi, a well-known Hamilton restaurant co-owned by one of Emery’s close friends, Boris, who asked that his last name not be used in this story. Several players who were part of the charity game hung out as music boomed in the background. Emery chatted through the evening, as popular as ever.

When the party died down, after last call, Boris invited Emery and Nicholson to continue the evening on a boat owned by one of his friends. They drove in Boris’ car to the marina. The four men then sat in the stern, chatting and sipping beer. Emery, who had never met Boris’ friend, struck up a conversation about the speed boat. Emery was enamoured by watercraft and had long considered buying his own.

Around 4 a.m., Boris went home. Emery and Nicholson stayed on the boat, chatting with their new friend.

“It was just a chill night,” Nicholson says, insisting that he and Emery only had two beers on the water.

As dawn approached, Nicholson says Emery made a bet that he could swim underwater to a dock at least 100 feet away. This was Emery pushing the limits and seeking thrills, like old times.

Nicholson told Emery he didn’t need to swim to the other dock, but he insisted. He was having a good time and put Nicholson in a playful headlock. “You’re my boy! You’re going in!” Nicholson remembers him saying. At the time, the owner of the boat had walked away to do something near the gate of the marina, Nicholson says. (The man has not commented on what happened that night, aside from speaking with police.)

The sun wasn’t up yet, but the sky was getting light. They could see across the marina. They both stripped down to their boxers. Nicholson jumped in first, and Emery told him where to tread water, so he could dive into the path he planned to take to the other side.

Emery stood on the edge, readying himself. “I’m coming for you,” he said.

He took a breath and dove in.

Nicholson swam back to the dock, next to the boat. He climbed out and sat on the edge, facing the slip that he thought Emery swam to. It seemed to be taking a while, but Nicholson didn’t think anything of it until the owner of the boat walked back up and asked where Emery was.

They watched for a few more moments, but Emery never emerged. They panicked.

“Ray!” Nicholson yelled. “Ray?”

The water was calm.

The boat owner put on a lifejacket, jumped in and started swimming toward the other dock. Nicholson returned to the spot where Emery had gone under. He pushed himself beneath the water, kicking and swinging his arms. He couldn’t see anything in the darkness. He swam back to the surface, gasped for another breath and went back under, flailing in the water trying to find Emery. He came up, coughing.

The owner of the boat came back from the other side and said Emery wasn’t there and that they needed to call the police. Nicholson put his jeans on and ran down the dock, looking between the boats, thinking Emery might have been playing a joke.

The police arrived at the yacht club shortly after the call went out at 6:20 a.m. As the owner went to let them in, Nicholson took his jeans off and jumped back into the water, which was about 20 feet deep. But there was no sign of Emery.

The officers yelled at Nicholson to get out, but he kept trying to dive down. They eventually used a rescue pole to hook Nicholson and pull him back in. He yelled at the officers to get in the water. Nicholson says he was in shock and so unhinged the police threatened to restrain him.

Well over 20 minutes had passed since Emery had gone under. If he was still in the water, it was now a body recovery operation — not a rescue.

Television trucks began to arrive. The sun was up, low over the harbour. A police diving unit was called in to search for Emery’s body.

Nicholson was taken to the police station, where he was questioned for two hours as to whether he had anything to do with what happened. They asked him if they had gotten in a fight and if he had struck Emery in the head. Nicholson was incredulous, insisting Emery was one of his closest friends. He couldn’t have hurt him.

“He just dove in the water, three feet beside me,” Nicholson says. “And he never came up.”

Sometime between 10 and 11 a.m. that morning, a police officer arrived at Sharlene and Paul Emery’s house and told them their son was missing and presumed drowned. The police wanted to contact them before the media reported it. Sharlene ran to a neighbour’s house and collapsed at their door. Paul busied himself on the phone, dialing family and friends, weeping between each call.

It took eight hours for the marine search unit to locate Emery’s body, 68 feet from where he dove in, on a directly diagonal path from the dock.

After a brief investigation, police ruled out foul play. They called the tragedy a case of “misadventure.”

The Emery Family: Nick, Paul, Ray, Sharlene, and Andy. (Courtesy of Sharlene Emery)
A week after his death, hundreds of Emery’s friends gathered at the same restaurant he’d been at the morning he drowned. They were there to pay tribute to a man who connected them in immeasurable ways. It was meant to be a celebration of Emery’s life, but many were still grappling with the realization that he was gone.

Sharlene, wearing her son’s white Blackhawks sweater and Stanley Cup champions cap, met with as many familiar faces as she could.

Jason Spezza approached Sharlene and struggled to find words. “This is hard for me,” he told her. They’d been close since he and Emery had lived with Brian McGrattan in the minors, as the trio navigated the uneasy transition from boyhood into life as professional hockey players. Emery helped loosen up Spezza, who was admittedly “not the coolest guy” coming into pro hockey. He prodded the star constantly, mocking his taste in clothes. Emery gave Spezza nicknames that he couldn’t repeat for publication more than a dozen years later.

Their profound friendship had a lasting impact.

“Razor is one of my closest friends,” Spezza said, still referring to Emery in the present tense, six months after his death. “He’s one of the most loyal people I have in my life.”

Now in the final years of his career with the Dallas Stars, Spezza recently thought about how nice it would be when he was done playing to be back in Ontario living close to Emery again, enjoying the memories as they grew old.

It was a sentiment felt by many at the memorial that day. Throughout the restaurant were people from every part of Emery’s life.

There was his teenage buddy and Dunnville teammate, Joey Baird, now a Hamilton police officer — who Emery had taken out golfing at a swanky club the week before he died. “He always wanted to take care of us,” Baird says of Emery’s constant effort to share his fortune with his friends. “He was so good to us.”

And there was Paul Schonfelder, Emery’s best friend since they were teenagers working at Kenesky’s goalie school in Hamilton. They stuck beside each other, like brothers, ever since. Schonfelder had been excited to see what his friend was about to conquer next.

“He had the brains to do anything he wanted,” he said.

A few weeks later, Sharlene and Paul unpacked the items from their son’s house. They hung his old sweaters on a rack. They stacked his gear in the furnace room. The Jennings Trophy he won with the Blackhawks sits beneath the stairs, near a photo of Emery with his late-friend Steve Montador resting his head on his shoulder.

Across the room, a miniature version of the Stanley Cup sits on a table, near a small cherrywood box that holds Emery’s ashes. It’s engraved with a golfer holding the arc of his swing, as his brothers wanted to remember him doing something he loved. It includes the words: “Forever in our hearts.”

Nearby, the family keeps two glass cases that display Emery’s favourite masks. Among the colourful, professional designs, there was also a plain black one: The helmet Paul welded together and repaired while his son was finding his way in the game.

As an adult, Emery told his friends that Paul was the model for the kind of man and father he hoped to be. Although they rarely shared sappy words, Paul knew he had his son’s respect, even though he brushed it off as undeserved.

But among Emery’s things, Paul came across a piece of scrap paper on which is his son had scribbled out the words to a rap song:

“Once upon a time in a town called the Hammer
I was born to a single mother …
Other mothafarga said he didn’t want me
It was just us two til I was about 3
Ma found a guy who actually cared about me
They got married and yours truly was adopted
And right there I got the best Dad I always wanted…”

Paul’s eyes welled as he read it. He brought the paper home and scans it often, the same way he scrolls to the last text message Emery sent him, with a picture of him holding a massive pickerel he’d caught at a cottage.

Every member of Emery’s family has found their own way to preserve the pieces that help hold the memory of him together. Nick lined his basement with Emery’s old sticks, sweaters, and masks – along with the picture of his brother meeting Barack Obama. Andy set aside a piece of paper his brother scribbled on to congratulate him after he’d been called to the bar. “Proud of ya Bro! Hopefully I don’t need your help anytime soon!” he wrote. “Big shot lawyer… Love ya, Ray.”

Emery’s grandfather, George, flips through massive scrapbooks of all the articles he’d clipped from newspapers about his grandson and shares tall tales of limo rides with him through Manhattan, visits to high-roller casinos, and early morning coffees.

In the months that followed Emery’s death, Sharlene continued to meet with her son’s friends, even those she wasn’t familiar with. She drove to Hamilton and sat down with Nicholson, who she didn’t know. He was still badly shaken and had been having nightmares about drowning.

He told her the story of that morning, about how he’d tried to save her son and how haunted he was that he couldn’t. Sharlene told Nicholson that she couldn’t understand why they were out that late, and why they decided to go swimming. They cried together. Sharlene gave him a vial of her son’s ashes and asked him to take good care of them.

Sharlene often stayed up through the night on the Internet, trying to find out how her son, such a strong swimmer, could have drowned. The most logical conclusion was that he suffered what’s known as a shallow-water blackout, where a swimmer passes out while holding their breath too long.

But the answers yielded little comfort. Nothing could bring him back.

One day last fall, Sharlene went to the basement and picked up one of her son’s old goalie helmets from the glass case. She carefully placed the mask on her head and pulled it down. She wanted to be near him again; to be close to her son, any way she could.

She picked up an old portrait of him in his mask and stared at the image through the steel webbing of the cage.

“Why did you do what you did?” she said. “Why did this have to happen?”

Thirty-six years earlier, she believed that her unexpected pregnancy had occurred for a divine reason. Ray was a gift from God, she thought – and looking at her son, again, she knew that she was right.

But how could he be gone so soon?


Tears fell beneath the mask as she searched her son’s eyes. They were still, with no clear distance to the answers deep within them.
i can take a phrase thats rarely heard...flip its a daily word

igy gettin it done like warrick

im the board pharmacist....always one step above yous

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Re: The Rest of the NHL
« Reply #3093 on: February 25, 2019, 12:17:37 PM »

pretty cool stat i just saw....only three nhl players have played 1500+ games for the same franchise and all three are red wings
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Re: The Rest of the NHL
« Reply #3094 on: February 25, 2019, 12:38:29 PM »

pretty cool stat i just saw....only three nhl players have played 1500+ games for the same franchise and all three are red wings

Borque and Howe each played more than 1500+ games with one franchise (Howe obviously with the Red Wings also) but I think the stat you saw is about guys who never played anywhere else even after achieving 1500.

It's so incredibly rare to play a decently long NHL career for just one team that I doubt there's many guys who even did that with 1000 games. Bobby Clarke is one of them, definitely the only Flyer. Giroux needs another 200 games.

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Re: The Rest of the NHL
« Reply #3095 on: February 25, 2019, 01:00:44 PM »

yes there are players in nhl history that have played more than 1500 total games
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