As far as memorable seasons go in Flyers history, the 2009-10 campaign certainly ranks in the top five.
For Ray Emery though, it was a season he’d like to forget.
Anointed the starting goalie at the beginning of that season – one which the Flyers reached the Stanley Cup Finals – Emery was lost midway through the year to a degenerative hip condition that required risky surgery to rectify, and put his hockey career in serious jeopardy.
So, while the Flyers were making that dramatic run, Emery was rehabbing, not knowing what lay ahead in his career.
He made an amazing comeback to play for Anaheim, then signed with the Chicago Blackhawks, where he won the Stanley Cup last season after posting an astounding 17-1-0 record as Cory Crawford’s backup.
And while he liked it in Chicago, Emery, 30, wanted a shot to start again. So, he decided to give Philadelphia another shot.
“It’s been a crazy couple of days,” Emery said. “I’m excited that [Philadelphia] became an option. The first time I was really pumped about it, but it didn’t work out the way I wanted it, so I’m excited to be back.”
Emery isn’t guaranteed the No. 1 job with the Flyers, with whom he signed a one-year deal worth $1.65 million. He will be part of a tandem with Steve Mason. Both guys have one year left, and will compete for the starting job – which should make both goalies better.
However, it’s a chance to win a job and to get more playing time, and that’s all Emery was hoping for.
“[Chicago was] a situation where Cory has one year left… and he’s going to make five or six million for the next little while and I felt the writing was on the wall for myself,” Emery said. “In Philly, it’s a new situation and a place where I could play more games.”
Emery has also mellowed out as his career has moved on, and now that he’s a veteran he has a whole different approach to goaltending then he did when he was a fiery youngster with the Ottawa Senators.
“I kind of changed my outlook,” he said. “When I was younger I wanted to play all the games and had a pouty attitude when I didn’t. Now it’s different. You start to realize when the team does well, no matter who’s playing it’s a better situation.
“I’m a student of the game. You are always finding better techniques and understanding the game more. Physically I ‘m in great shape and feel good about my body especially the time and effort I put into it now, from thinking the game and reading the game.”
Finally, Emery is looking forward to partnering with Mason, with whom he works out with in the same Toronto neighborhood every summer.
“We’re around the corner from each other here in Toronto,” Emery said. “I know him. He’s a great young goalie and a guy who’s had success. I look at it as a tandem relationship. Last year with me and Cory in Chicago it was all about team success and we helped each other get better. I’m excited to work with [Mason] and teach him what I learned about the game.”
The Flyers also signed goalie Yann Danis to a one-year contract. It is a two-way deal, meaning he is ticketed for the Adirondack Phantoms. If he plays in the NHL, his cap hit will be $675,000.
Danis, 32, comes to the Flyers from the Edmonton Oilers organization, where he led the Oilers’ American Hockey League affiliate, the Oklahoma City Barons, to the AHL’s Western Conference Finals in each of the last two seasons. In 2012-13, Danis posted a record of 26-15-6 with a 2.59 GAA and a .911 save percentage, followed by a 10-7 record with a 2.41 GAA and .923 save percentage in 17 Calder Cup playoff games. The previous season, Danis won the Aldege “Baz” Bastien Trophy as the AHL’s best goaltender with a 26-14-2 record, a 2.07 GAA and a .924 save percentage during the regular season. He was named the first-team goaltender on the 2012 AHL Post-Season All-Star Team and represented the Barons at the 2012 AHL All-Star Classic.
Danis was signed by the Montreal Canadiens in 2004 following a four-year career at Brown University, where he was a 2004 Hobey Baker finalist. He spent four seasons with the Montreal organization, appearing in 176 games for the club’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Hamilton Bulldogs. While in Hamilton, Danis backed up Carey Price as the Bulldogs won the 2007 Calder Cup, and he was also named the co-MVP at the 2006 AHL All-Star Classic. He played six games for Montreal during the 2005-06 season, including his NHL debut on October 12, 2005, a 32-save shutout win over Atlanta. He became the first Montreal goaltender since 1973 to debut with a shutout.
Danis signed with the New York Islanders in 2008 and moved on to the New Jersey Devils in 2009. After playing the 2010-11 season in the KHL, Danis returned to North America when he signed with Edmonton prior to the 2011-12 season. In 53 career NHL games for Montreal, the Islanders, New Jersey and Edmonton, Danis has a 17-21-4 record with a 2.75 GAA and a .910 save percentage.
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