OTTAWA - Ray Emery was back practising with the Ottawa Senators on Saturday and admitted it wasn't illness that caused him to miss the team's skate a day earlier.
"I slept in and got here late," a sheepish-looking Emery said before the Senators faced the Washington Capitals at Scotiabank Place. "Coach told me to beat it."
The beleaguered goaltender took part in the morning skate and was to be Martin Gerber's backup Saturday night. He showed up early and was on the ice with Senators goaltending coach Eli Wilson well ahead of practice.
His presence, and promptness, was a different story from Friday, when he showed up about five minutes before practice and, after speaking briefly with coach John Paddock, left the building.
Paddock later explained that the goaltender wasn't feeling well and was instructed to go home. Add in the fact that Emery had thrown a temper tantrum at the end of a pre-game skate on Thursday, and speculation was rampant that there was more to the story.
It turns out there was. Although Emery's teammates supported the "sick" story when asked about his absence, Emery came clean regarding both the Friday disappearing act as well as the Thursday blowup.
"I've never been a guy that's on time all the time, but I was disappointed in not getting here on time (Friday)," he said. "I didn't know who saw (Thursday's tantrum), but I just got mad, mainly at myself, because I've been having trouble getting motivated on the ice.
"It was just kind of a coincidence that I slept in (Friday). I've no one to blame but myself for the situation I'm in, so I've just got to turn it around."
The incidents only add to what's becoming a nightmare season for the 25-year-old native of Cayuga, Ont. He missed the start of the season after recovering from wrist surgery in the summer and has struggled with his game while Gerber has usurped his role as No. 1. He also has run afoul of Paddock with his work ethic in practice.
"I'm not happy with (the work ethic), but it's one thing to say you want to change things and it's another to actually get motivated," said Emery. "I don't know why it's like that right now.
"The team's in first place in the conference. I don't want to be a distraction, which is what's happening right now."
Paddock wasn't in much of a mood to further discuss Emery's situation on Saturday, only responding, half in jest, that the netminder was feeling better.
Meanwhile, Emery addressed things with some of his teammates, although he said he preferred to keep what was said as an "in-house thing."
"We just cleared the way so there wasn't any misunderstandings that usually get done and twisted a little bit in the media," Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson said. "There was no message that needed to be sent.
"It was not an issue for us. It was just more making sure that everybody knew what was going on, more or less, instead of reading different news articles and whatnot. It's just another day here."
What the episode has done is create doubt over Emery's future in Ottawa. He still has two years left on his contract at a price tag of US $3.167 million a season and, given his choice, Emery insists he'd prefer to remain a Senator.
"I like playing with the guys here, I like the chances the team has here," he said.