Chicago Sun-Times

Blackhawks goalie Ray Emery nominated for the Bill Masterton Trophy

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Ray Emery has been nominated for the Bill Masterton Trophy -- which honors perseverance and dedication -- before.

It was just last season that he was recognized by the Anaheim chapter of Professional Hockey Writers Association for overcoming hip surgery to help lead the Ducks to the postseason.

The 29-year-old goalie has nominated by the Chicago chapter for that and going through his first tryout in years to make the Hawks and eventually playing an important and unexpected role in their success this season.

"That's an honor," Emery said. "It seems like a while ago since I've had that operation done. But it's definitely something I look back on as a tough time but also a growing experience and made me realize how much I really appreciate being able to play the game. Any time you get recognized for something like that, it's humbling."

Emery's comeback from a hip surgery and his strong play for the Ducks resulted in him being a finalist for the Masterton Trophy last season. This year, Emery has proven he's still a viable goaltender in the NHL.

Few teams came calling for Emery despite his success with the Ducks, which included a 7-2 record, a .926 save percentage and 2.28 goals-against average. There were still doubts whether his surgically repaired hip, the result of avascular necrosis, a disease that interrupted blood flow and deteriorated his ball joint, could hold up for a longer period of time.

Emery's best opportunity was signing a tryout offer with the Hawks. He had to compete against rookie Alexander Salak for the backup job behind starter Corey Crawford.

Emery didn't have the best preseason, but his experience and approach impressed coach Joel Quenneville and general manager Stan Bowman. With the Hawks in need of a veteran goalie, Emery was offered a one-year deal. Since then, Emery has gone 15-9-3 with a 2.77 goals-against average and .902 save percentage in 35 appearances.

"It was different," Emery said. "I haven't had to try out in 10 years or so, but I knew I'd get a chance to play somewhere. Even last year when I came back with Anaheim, I started off in the minors and kind of got lucky a bit and worked my way up. You can do that if you're willing to be patient and work for it."

Not only has Emery proven he can still play goal in the NHL, he has provided some stability for the Hawks with Crawford having an erratic season. Emery has stepped in multiple times and given the Hawks strong performances in goal, including a five-game winning streak.

Emery has been praised for his consistency by Quenneville, who also has commended him for his team-first demeanor throughout the season.

"It was a difficult thing [coming back] and it was a lot things people don't see as well," Emery said. "When people recognize you for it, it's nice. It's humbling."

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Adam L. Jahns is a native Chicagoan. Jahns has been with the Sun-Times since 2005, covering the Hawks since 2009. He's also helped cover the Bears, Cubs, Sox and high schools. Follow him on Twitter:@adamjahns

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This page contains a single entry by Adam L. Jahns published on March 29, 2012 12:08 PM.

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