Plot's sickening

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:42 AM ET

Is Ray Emery sick or are the Senators just sick of his act?

"He was sick," said Senators coach John Paddock, who faced a barrage of questions after Emery was mysteriously absent from practice yesterday in the latest twist in a season-long saga.

League sources say Emery's days with the Senators could be numbered because GM Bryan Murray has been trying to trade him.

Emery's absence came just 24 hours after he stormed off the ice in a huff and tossed his stick into the Scotiabank Place stands and then had his work ethic questioned by captain Daniel Alfredsson.

"I don't think we're distracted," said Senators winger Dany Heatley. "I've broken a few sticks in my time. Today he's sick, it's cold and flu season."

But if Emery really was battling the flu, Paddock didn't sound convincing. There's a strong belief the coach was incensed that Emery showed up just five minutes before the 11 a.m. practice.

Paddock insisted the goalie would dress as the backup tonight when the Washington Capitals visit Scotiabank Place.

IN WHITE HUMMER

"He got here a little bit late and I told him not to practise," said Paddock. "He wanted to practise and I thought it was best he go home for the day."

Witnesses said they saw Emery leaving the rink's parking lot in his white Hummer after 11 a.m. Paddock was seen speaking with Emery near the loading dock just before practice. Alfredsson immediately went to the coaches' office in his equipment after the players left the ice.

If Emery was sick, the Senators weren't showing a lot of sympathy for him.

"If he was our No. 1 goalie right now and we lived and died by him, then it would be a different story," said Alfredsson. "We'd expect more from him at times. (Martin) Gerber is our goalie right and I think Ray's mission right now is if he wants to get back in, he's got to show the coaches he wants to do it. That's where we are at."

Paddock said he can understand Emery's frustration.

"Anybody who reaches this level, they want to play," said Paddock. "I think where our views differ slightly is on what it takes to get back to playing and to get to back playing as one of the top 10-12 goalies in the league.

"He's never displayed that to me. All athletes want to play more. It's how are you going to get your game back to the game that lead a team to the Stanley Cup final last year?"

Paddock said the wrist surgery in June set Emery back, but he hasn't done himself any favours with his work ethic.

"Whether you're a goaltender or a position player, you have to be in condition," said Paddock. "When you're (here), you have to work hard just like anybody does in any job. He can be a lot more comfortable in the net if he spends a little time working at it."


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