We were driving back from the Finger Lakes Wine Festival yesterday when a friend texted me the sad news of Ray Emery's passing. Ray "Razor" Emery drowned yesterday while swimming in Hamilton Ontario Harbor. He was 35.

The first time I met Ray was just prior to the inaugural season of the Binghamton Senators in 2002. Ray was drafted by Ottawa and came down for the open house here at the arena. I was introduced to him and interviewed him live on the radio. We were talking before the interview started and he seemed like a really nice guy. As time went on, I ran into Ray more and more. Ray was a great goalie and a pretty good fighter too. Early in his career, he would sometimes let his temper get the best of him. I remember watching the video from Philadelphia when the Phantom's and the Senators had a bench-clearing brawl. Ray when after a couple of the players from the Phantoms in that game. And, I also remember the NHL game between Philadelphia and Washington when Ray skated down the far end of the ice and kicked the snot out of Braden Holtby. He didn't take any crap from anybody on the ice and he always had his teammates back. It didn't matter how big the other player was, Ray would not back down.

Ray was great with the kids too. My stepson Ian would go down to the locker room and wait for the players to come out while I was finishing up playing the music in the arena after the Senators games. Even though he met Ray a bunch of times, he would still shake his hand, say hello to him, and ask him for his autograph. During Ray's time in Binghamton, we would run into him a lot at the Olive Garden. I think that might have been his favorite restaurant because he seemed to be there every time we went in. He would be sitting there on a date and my step-son would want to go over and sit with them just to talk to him. We had to keep telling Ian,
'No, he's on a date and you shouldn't interrupt him while he's on a date'. We would even avoid walking by his table so Ian wouldn't stop to talk to him. But still, on the way out Ian would make eye contact with him and wave as we were leaving. Ray would always flash that big smile of his and wave back.

Emery played for the Binghamton Senators in four different seasons from 2002 through 2008. And while rehabbing an injury, he played two more games in Binghamton during the 07-08 campaign. Emery played in the NHL on four different teams including Ottawa, Philadelphia (my favorite team), Anaheim, and he helped the Chicago Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup in 2013.

Ray Emery was inducted into the Binghamton Hockey Hall of Fame in April of last year.

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