I don't know how many of you follow the Dreger Report on TSN, but its very good, he has a lot of inside stuff that not many others have. This was in the report today. I did not write this and do not own it, this is all Dreger
Ray Emery is a walking, talking science experiment and the fact he's been able to claw back to the NHL - let alone post wins in his sixth straight start for the Anaheim Ducks - borders on medical miracle.
A year ago, Emery's playing career appeared to be over. He was diagnosed with avascular necrosis, a disease that killed the bone tissue in the ball of his right hip.
Emery opted for a radical surgery which would give him a slim chance of playing hockey again, but there were no guarantees and the extensive rehabilitation he faced made a return to the National Hockey League seem unrealistic.
Last April, surgeons removed a portion of Emery's fibula and transplanted the bone into his hip and the process of months of recovery was introduced which is where Ray Emery's character was defined.
His agent J.P. Barry hired Matt Nichol, a top trainer and highly respected strength and conditioning coach to guide Emery down a path Nichol now admits was ridiculously ambitious. "We didn't know Ray would get another shot at the NHL," Nichol told The Dreger Report. "No one has ever come back from this. I told Ray, you're going to have to do more than anyone has ever done, and you're still not likely going to make it."
Nichol says he didn't know Emery before being brought on board. As a former trainer with the Toronto Maple Leafs, he had heard the stories of Emery's party days in Ottawa, but Nichols says the man who appeared in his small gym in Toronto last September, arrived inspired to defy the odds.
"All we did...all day long was focus on rehab," says Nichol. "Seven days a week for seven months, we were in the gym, in the pool, or doing pilates. There was was no down time, Ray would sleep, eat and then travel to workouts or doctors appointments."
Nichol says alot of the excercises Emery did were frustrating. He needed to re-learn simple tasks such as how to sit and stand correctly. The routine of getting up after starting from the bottom of the butterfly position, had to be modified to accomodate the structural changes to Emery's body.
Emery never once complained and Nichol recalls one of their first on-ice sessions when it became evident how committed the veteran goalie was to getting back to the NHL. "We had a few shooters out and one of them scored a nice goal on Ray and then celebrated," he said. "We could see Ray was pissed, he slammed his stick on the ice and after that nothing went in. He stopped everything. At that point, I said, he's going to play in the NHL again."
Fast forward to last night's 4-2 Ducks win in Calgary, where Emery made 23 saves and improved his record to 6-0 since his improbable return.
"I'm fortunate. I know that a lot of things had to go right for me to even get a chance to play," Emery told reporters post game. "I'm grateful of every opportunity I get and I just take it as it comes, one step, one game at a time."
Just an incredible story, thought I'd pass it on.