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Flyers: Carnival Starts Early This Season

I know I'm still catching up with things after being out of town, and this is old news here, but THE FLYERS SIGNED RAY EMERY??

That is apparently the case. I had to make sure, so I went over to the site of team spokesman Tim Panaccio and, yep, he had it, too. Said the "dust had settled after another sandstorm in Flyerdom," which threw me off a little. I mean, was it dust, or was it sand?

Either way, it was Ray Emery, the new goaltender, by way of Ottawa, by way of Russia, by way of Wackoville. With both Marty Biron and Antero Niittymaki becoming free agents on July 1, I guess the Flyers had to do something -- re-signing Biron would have been my preference -- and, oh yes, they did something.

It's awful to be accused of second-guessing a team, waiting for the outcome to decide if the organization was right or wrong in making a move. So, let's get the first guess out of the way now. This is going to be an utter disaster. Guys don't change at 26. If they miss practices, show up late all the time, get into automobile accidents, become a joke in their own locker rooms in one place, it's going to happen in the next place as well.

This is not Flyers Behavior. Whatever else this team is, the history here is it is as important to be a good teammate as it is to be a good hockey player. For GM Paul Holmgren, a man who tolerates no nonsense, to take this chance is utterly out of character.

And, by the way, it is missing the most vital point about the Flyers. The goaltending wasn't the problem. The problem was that the core of young players on the team who think they can ramp up their intensity and level of play when it is neeeded. Everything's just fine. We're just fine. Don't worry about us. So they blow playoff home-ice advantage on the final day of the season -- at home, to the Rangers -- and then dead-ass through the opening game of the playoffs against the Penguins. Just fine. No problem. The Flyers gave up 18 goals in six games against Pittsburgh. Big deal.

But the goaltending is always the easy answer. Coaches love to make that the answer, because then it's not their fault. It isn't the scheme or the motivation or the execution. It's that lump between the pipes there. Just didn't rise to the occasion. In this case, that's crap. Biron was plenty good enough.

And his replacement is a guy who was late for practice because he was signing autographs at the scene of one of his many fender benders? The dude ate a cockroach off the floor on a bet. Cockroach.

It would be fair to say the players are unconvinced about the signing.

"We all know about Ray. I'm ready to leave that behind and move forward," Kimmo Timonen said.

"We need to give him a chance before we judge him," Danny Briere said.

And then we're going to hate him wicked. At least that's the prediction here. Emery went to Russia to play for a season while he cooled off after his nuclear meltdown in Ottawa. Walked out on the Moscow club in February because he thought they were screwing him on the exchange rate on his salary. Reportedly got into a shoving match with a trainer who was trying to make him wear a hat. Didn't say what kind of hat.

(Since this comes down to Emery and Biron, parenthetically, here's that fight between the two of them, back when Biron was with Buffalo and Emery made it to the game on time.)

OK, I think that's all, at least until the act really gets going and the Wachovia Center fans are booing and throwing things after Emery gives up a soft goal and stomps around, pointing his stick at the defensemen.

This will not end well. And, for God's sake, don't try to make him wear a hat.