Ray's jab still stings

DON BRENNAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:45 AM ET

BUFFALO -- It was a casual remark that has grown legs almost as big as those inside Daniel Alfredsson's hockey socks.

"All I said was that I'd rather go to Manhattan," Ray Emery tried to explain -- as a wide grin spread across his face -- to a gathering of journalists at HSBC Arena yesterday morning. "I don't know that there's anyone in this room who doesn't feel the same way."

Actually, what the Senators goalie told the Sun earlier this week, in response to a question of whether he was hoping to face the Sabres or the Rangers in the Eastern Conference final, is that he's "not a big fan of Buffalo (because) there's not a lot to do on days off."

The restless natives have taken that comment to heart.

For Emery's two cents, Buffalo News sports columnist Jerry Sullivan tabbed him Sean Avery's replacement as "a fresh target for the collective loathing" of Sabres fans. Put him in the same league as hated ex-Buffalo Bill Willis McGahee, even.

"Why stop there, Ray?" Sullivan wrote. "Why not insult our women while you're at it? Or suggest they move the franchise to Toronto."

Emery's teammates had a good chuckle watching a clip on a local TV station, where citizens of the Queen City were asked for suggestions as to what the 24-year-old could do with his free time.

"He could come here and I'd give him some lessons," said a woman at a local driving range. "He's going to have plenty of time to play golf in another week or so."

"He could come here for something to eat," a chef at a Buffalo restaurant said rather deviously. "I could fix him a special sauce."

Touchy, touchy.

At yesterday's press conference, Emery was asked what he did Wednesday, the first of two "off" nights he has to kill during this business trip.

'IT WAS ALL RIGHT'

"I went to the mall, and the Cheesecake Factory," he laughed. "It was all right."

Fans generally pick on the opposing netminder no matter who it is at this time of year. Emery, who smirked his way through fights with Sabres goalie Martin Biron and team tough guy Andrew Peters here earlier this season, knew full well he'd be in for a rough ride last night.

"I think they'll really be cheering for me, man," he said sarcastically hours before the game. "That (booing and heckling) just adds to the series for me. I didn't expect a warm reception, anyway. I like that type of atmosphere."

You hoped he would enjoy himself during the game, for after it, he would have to go 48 hours before another one.

"He can go drinking," said our waiter at the Pearl Street Grill and Brewery, located close to the rink. "That's all they do around here."

That's an idea a number of the media in town from Ottawa have already acted on. The Crocodile Bar on Chippewa St. has emerged as the early candidate to be our favourite hangout.

Along with the scenery and prices (Cee Jay Stevenson picked up the tab to earn the nod as the night's first star), a highlight of the evening was watching the A-Channel's Kenny "The King" Evraire throw at least five olives at the National Post's Roy MacGregor before finally hitting him.

Guess that's why Kenny was a receiver and not a quarterback.

Before Game 1, Sun snapper Sean "Tilty" Kilpatrick and Cheapstreets polled fans arriving at HSBC Arena for activities Emery could look into today.

Following this morning's practice, he's due to get pretty bored waiting for tomorrow's morning skate.

Driving ridiculed

Three women walking in front of the arena and screaming their support of the Sabres had with them a sign ridiculing Ray's driving ability.

"Take him to the lake over there and push him in," one said.

"Ray Emery should get a life," screeched another.

"He's a looooooooooser," hollered the third.

A young woman selling "Dream and Believe" Sabres T-shirts out of her trunk for $10 a pop thought for a few moments when asked what she thought Emery should do.

Finally, she smiled and offered two words: "Go home."

He'll wait until late tomorrow or early Sunday to do that, of course, but you can be sure it's a suggestion Emery would find enticing.

He'd like to leave here all right. Especially with a couple of victories.


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