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Nice Problem To Have?


As Training Camp draws near (seems like I’ve been saying that forever) one of the most interesting battles will be that of the back up goal tending position. Battling for the number 2 spot will be Alexander Salak and Ray Emery. The Hawks acquired Salak along with forward Michael Frolik, in the trade which sent Jack Skille (and 2 minor league players )  to Florida. Emery was invited to camp as a free agent, back in July.  I’d like to take a minute to tell you what I know about each of them.

Alexander Salak

Back in May, the Hawks signed a 2 year deal with Salak. He has 2 NHL games to his credit, both with Florida. The 24 year old net minder played all of last season in the Swedish League. He lived in the Czech Republic, where he was born, until a couple of weeks ago. Salak has moved to Chicago and has begun working out in the United Center, assisted by the team’s trainers.  Salak was quoted as saying “I always work as hard as I can.. I’m going to work hard and stop pucks. What happens, will happen. If they send me there (Rockford, AHL) I’d go there and play. I’m happy that they’re (the Hawks) are giving me a chance. I just want to make sure that I am ready.”


Ray Emery

Emery is excited to have an opportunity to prove himself with the Hawks. He has recovered from surgery due to avascular necrosis, a hip disease in which the femur deteriorates because of the lack of blood flow. In April of 2010,  he underwent a procedure that involved removing bone from his right fibula and grafting it onto his his hip. Then, in February of this year, Emery signed with the Ducks. He played American Hockey League for a short time. he went 7-2 in 10 games with Anaheim before starting in the playoffs.

“I didn’t worry about the hip,” Emery said. “I had some soreness and had some different things that ramped up. A lot of it was just nerve sensitivity and a lot of things in the lower leg that needed to work themselves out.”“That donor site was the toughest part of the rehabilitation.”“The doctor said, as far as he could see, I’d have a healthy hip for the rest of my life,”

He has also spent time with the Flyers and Ottawa, playing in goal for them in the 2007 Stanley Cup Finals. Emery is 28 years old and would bring a nice bit of experience to the back up role.

Whatever happens, this should be fun to watch unfold. Unless Crawford makes a run at Glenn Hall’s ridiculous record of 502 consecutive games (it still sounds like it’s made up, doesn’t it?) some one is going to get some playing time. Besides, the last 2 seasons the Hawks number one goalie (Huet then Turco) became the backup ( for Niemi, then Crawford).

Filed in: NHL Teams, Chicago Blackhawks, Vince Maranto, | KK Hockey | Permalink



I know the Hawks and their fans honestly think that they are above everyone else on some things, but really, the goaltending?

Crawford may just be fine. He also, like a lot of goalies, including the last one to win the Rookie trophy, have a substandard sophomore year.

It happens quite often. Now, I know this is the Hawks, and like with Carcillo ( we can handle him, Q’ will sit him on the bench….), the team thinks it does not really need to look at things like that, but really?

If Crawford falters ( which is far more possible than Hawk fans seem to think ), your choices are a guy with a totally new hip, who, when on, is great, but who could snap like a twig at any moment ( he could not go the distance for the Ducks when they really needed him in the playoffs )..and an untested Euro rookie.

So, better hope that Crawford does not have a setback…or, well, you know.

Posted by vancitydan on 08/25/11 at 02:07 PM ET


@ vancitydan

I agree with you, the soph slump is possible, but one thing Crawford has going for him is that he is not really that young. Most people in hockey think he spent at least one year too long in the AHL, that being because Niemi didn’t have options left and only one year on his contract, otherwise that would have been Crawford with the NHL team. I wouldn’t say that the current back up situation is causing any Hawks fans to think they are better off than any other team, nor did this article compare the hawks situation to any other teams. It was meerly pointing out that it will be an interesting situation and gave background on it. Maybe what you’re seeing is another case of Van and its fans overly concerning themselves with the Hawks and their fans…

Salak has a one way contract, so no matter what he will be making NHL salary, which leads me to believe he will be the backup. If Salak does start in the NHL though he will have to clear waivers if sent down during the year. Emery’s invite seems to be an insurance plan, if Emery has a great camp, he will win backup and Salak will start in the AHL, if Emery has anything less than a great camp, I would expect he does not get an offer.

Posted by pstumba on 08/25/11 at 03:01 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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