Emery's 'sickness' was sleepiness

SUN MEDIA NEWS SERVICES

, Last Updated: 7:29 AM ET

OTTAWA -- Goaltender Ray Emery was back practising with the Ottawa Senators yesterday and admitted it wasn't illness that caused him to miss the team's skate a day earlier.

"I slept in and got here late," a sheepish-looking Emery said before the Senators faced the Washington Capitals at Scotiabank Place. "Coach told me to beat it."

Emery took part in the morning skate and was to be Martin Gerber's backup last night. He showed up early and was on the ice with Senators goaltending coach Eli Wilson well ahead of practice.

His presence, and promptness, was a different story from Friday, when he showed up about five minutes before practice and, after speaking briefly with coach John Paddock, left the building.

Paddock later explained that the goaltender wasn't feeling well and was instructed to go home. Add in the fact that Emery had thrown a temper tantrum at the end of a pre-game skate on Thursday, and speculation was rampant that there was more to the story.

It turns out there was. Although Emery's teammates supported the "sick" story when asked about his absence, Emery came clean regarding both the Friday disappearing act as well as the Thursday blowup.

"I've never been a guy that's on time all the time, but I was disappointed in not getting here on time (Friday)," he said.

"I didn't know who saw (Thursday's tantrum), but I just got mad, mainly at myself, because I've been having trouble getting motivated on the ice.

"It was just kind of a coincidence that I slept in (Friday). I've no one to blame but myself for the situation I'm in, so I've just got to turn it around."

SAMSONOV WAIVED

CHICAGO -- Veteran forward Sergei Samsonov was placed on NHL waivers by the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday.

If no team claims the 29-year-old Russian left-winger by noon Monday, he could be sent to the AHL affiliate the Rockford (Ill.) IceHogs.

Samsonov has appeared in 23 of Chicago's games without scoring a goal. He has four assists, and a minus-seven plus-minus rating. He was acquired last June from Montreal for Jassen Cullimore and Tony Salmelainen.

Samsonov is under contract for US$3.525 million this season and can become an unrestricted free agent next July 1. He was the eighth player selected in the 1997 entry draft by Boston and got a career-best 75 points, including 29 goals, for the Bruins in 2000-2001.

DENIS DEMOTED

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Lightning sent Marc Denis to AHL Norfolk on Saturday after the goaltender cleared NHL waivers.

The 30-year-old Denis was 1-5-0 with a 4.05 goals-against average and .859 save percentage in 10 games with the Lightning this season. He became the odd man out after Tampa recalled rookie netminder Karri Ramo. Johan Holmqvist is the other goalie for the Lightning.

Denis is earning US$2.8 million this season and will make $3 million next season, the final year of his deal.

THE OL' SWITCHEROO

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Sabres and the Pittsburgh Penguins will switch ends halfway through the third period of the NHL Winter Classic on New Year's Day to ensure that each team spends an equal number of minutes attacking or defending each goal so any advantages or adversities created by weather conditions at Ralph Wilson Stadium will be nullified.

If a five-minute overtime period is necessary, it also would be divided in half, with the teams switching ends after 2:30 of play, the NHL announced.

Should a shootout be needed, each goaltender would be given the option of determining which goal to defend.

Thus, it is possible that both teams would shoot at the same net. Once a goaltender has chosen the net he wants to defend, he must defend that goal for every round of the shootout.


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