EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Traffic has been a problem for Senators goaltender Ray Emery this spring, huh?
It wasn't an issue with blue paint this time, but white, as his white Hummer traded paint in a fender bender Friday afternoon while rushing to make the Senators' charter flight here.
The story is Emery overslept during his afternoon nap and was rushing to make the flight when he tangled with another car on the Queensway.
"I wish I could sleep like that," Senators coach Bryan Murray said yesterday as almost all of his morning media conference dealt with Emery's tardiness and his growing file of off-ice misadventures.
"He went home, had a little lunch, put his feet up and probably dozed off. He lives alone. We probably need to get a new alarm clock for him or something. That's what happened."
Emery wasn't at the Continental Airlines Arena for the morning skate yesterday, so his coach and teammates had to deal with the questions about their goaltender missing a team flight for the second time this season.
It was the second-straight day Emery inconvenienced his teammates after they had to sit on the tarmac in Ottawa waiting for him until they decided to depart.
No matter how hard they tried to blow it off as inconsequential, they didn't need the distraction Emery caused, especially on the eve and morning of a potential elimination game.
"It's business as usual," said centre Jason Spezza, one of Emery's closest friends on the team. "But he might have to move in with me for the rest of the playoffs."
"Obviously we wish it didn't happen, but you can't go back in time," said defenceman Chris Phillips. "As far as we're concerned, we'll know he'll play a solid game for us. The distraction is having to answer questions about it."
Emery indeed did play solidly last night, stopping 27 shots as the Senators closed out the Devils in five games with a 3-2 victory.
When Murray was asked if Emery was fined or would be fined, he said: "We'll wait and see if we win the game."
The fact is, Emery will likely be fined, but it won't be by the coach. When Murray became coach, he gave the players two options: He could run things or they could discipline themselves. The club leadership opted to run their own ship and Murray has been happy with the job it's done.
Missing a team flight would probably cost a player $1,000 towards the team's kitty (maybe more for a second offence), and the guy would probably have to pick up the tab for a team dinner, too.
That winds up probably being a much steeper price to pay than anything levied by club management.
"I'll sit down and talk with Ray when the game is over (last night). I'll leave it alone until after that," said Murray.
"Sometimes he has his own way of thinking and doing things. That's Ray Emery ... he seems to take it in stride, it's just up to me to do the same."
Hey, what did they do with the real Bryan Murray?
HEAR AND THERE
It was a strange morning at the rink. Not even Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur, who will usually talk until the last question and then some, showed up to talk to the media ... Yesterday was likely the last morning skate at Continental Airlines Arena. "There are definitely some great memories here," said Jay Pandolfo, one of the Devils' longest-serving players. "When we won Stanley Cups, this building was a big part of it. You definitely don't want it to end, but then you realize we're going into a much nicer facility. Everyone likes to dump on (the building), but it's definitely been good to this organization." There is talk that the new Prudential Center won't be ready on time and the Devils might have to start next season here.
Murray has mellowed over the years. A few seasons ago, he said, Emery might have found an unwelcome welcome here. "I'd probably be yelling and screaming at him, waiting for him in the hotel lobby," said Murray. Instead, Murray went out to watch the Rangers-Sabres game. "Had a coffee, one beer and a sandwich, went to my room real early ... I don't know what I did after that. I know I was alone," he said, getting a laugh from the room ... Some fans booed the Canadian anthem, which I guess is just what they do here in the States now.
The Devils' Scott Gomez said they needed to get more traffic in front of Emery. When it was pointed out that had a different meaning, he said, "Oh, I don't mean that ..." ... There's a lot of construction around here, including -- really -- a ski hill outside the arena. Nothing says "winter sports" like "East Rutherford," huh?
Spezza is one guy who won't miss the arena here. "No, definitely not. I'm not a big fan of it. There's no atmosphere. The fans are too far back," said Spezza, who had another reason: "I've been a scratch there a few times, too." ... Devils coach Lou Lamoriello had a chance to get away from the Spezza-John Madden matchup off the opening faceoff -- the visiting coach turns his lineup in first -- but the Madden line was out there again.
Hey, given the way things went in the first round, I wouldn't be surprised to find out the guy driving the other car Friday afternoon was Colby Armstrong.