Ray Emery brought as much to the Flyers off the ice as he did on it, which is why so many in the organization were both stunned and saddened to learn of his death on Sunday.
The former Flyer goaltender died in a drowning accident in the province of Ontario, Canada at the age of 35.
Emery was part of the 2009-10 Flyers team which made it to the Stanley Cup Final before falling to Chicago in six games.
However, earlier in that season Emery suffered a hip injury which ended up putting out of action for the rest of the season.
The injury, later diagnosed as avascular necrosis, continued to plague him in later years and eventually ended his career after the 2014-15 season.
Several Flyers, including captain Claude Giroux, posted notes on Twitter.
“Ray was a great teammate,’’ Giroux wrote. “And an even better friend. Rest in piece, Razor. I’ll miss you man.’’
Flyers president Paul Holmgren who was general manager of the team when Emery was acquired, said Sunday night that the goalie was one of the most popular players in the locker room on that 2010 team.
“What stood out to me was his athleticism,’’ Holmgren said. “His competitiveness and his love for his teammates.
“He loved his teammates and they loved him. It was unbelievable to see the camaraderie around Ray. It was something special.’’
Emery played a total of 88 games for the Flyers, posting a record of 35-34 with a 2.88 goals-against average and .901 save percentage.
He also played for the Ottawa Senators, the Blackhawks (with whom he won a Stanley Cup) and Anaheim.
It was a shame he suffered the injury which shortened his career.
“Everything was going along good,’’ Holmgren recalled. “His last game was against Calgary, we shut them out 3-0. I remember hearing from (head trainer) Jimmy (McCrossin) the next morning that he had a hip issue.
“Turns out to be a big hip issue that at some point we thought was career-ending. But Ray battled back to get to the NHL. That’s an example of what he was all about. He was combative, who was going to make it and he did.’’
Emery was also known for his toughness. More than once he dropped the gloves to get a teammate’s back.
“He stuck up for his teammates and they more than happy to stick up for him, too,’’ Holmgren said. “That’s kind of the way he was.’’
Emery left the Flyers to join Chicago for two seasons, then was brought back to Philly in a backup role for his final two seasons.
Some of that had to do with how much of an impact Emery could make on the locker room.
“He had just come off the Cup win in Chicago,’’ Holmgren said. “He was good in both tours of duty with the Flyers.’’
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