The drowning of former NHL goalie Ray Emery does not appear suspicious, police said.
The 35-year-old player whose career spanned 11 seasons drowned in Hamilton Harbour on Sunday.
He jumped off a boat near the Leander Boat Club to go swimming, and friends called emergency services at about 6 a.m. local time, when he didn’t resurface, police said. Inspector Marty Schulenberg called it a “case of misadventure.”
Emery’s body was found at about 2:50 p.m. on Sunday, about 20 yards from where he went into the water, Schulenberg added. He said first responders were not able to locate Emery right away, so they called the dive unit. The search took longer than anticipated because of concerns for the dive team.
“It’s a lengthy process and safety is paramount to our divers,” he said. “We need to take the time do it safely and that’s what the delay was.”
A post-mortem was to be completed on Monday.
“Mr. Emery was taking a swim this morning and the circumstances around that are a part of the investigation,” Schulenberg said. “Those details remain to be uncovered by our investigators.”
Emery played for Ottawa, Chicago and Philadelphia. He helped the Senators reach the Stanley Cup Final in 2007 and won it as a backup with the Blackhawks in 2013.
The Blackhawks lauded him as a “fierce competitor, a good teammate and a Stanley Cup champion.” Flyers president Paul Holmgren cited his “talent, work ethic and determination,” calling him an “outstanding teammate and an extremely gifted goaltender.”
Emery battled avascular necrosis, the same serious hip ailment that ended two-sport star Bo Jackson’s career. He and fellow Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford combined to win the William Jennings Trophy for allowing the league’s fewest goals during the lockout-shortened 2013 season and finished seventh in Vézina Trophy voting.
Emery played in 326 NHL regular-season and playoff games. He went 145-86-28, with a 2.70 goals-against average and 16 shutouts.
He faced issues off the ice, including an incident of road rage, assault of a trainer in Russia and behaviour that led to his dismissal from Ottawa’s training camp.
“Ray had many highs and lows in his personal life and his career,” long-time agent J.P. Barry said. “He never let things that would derail most of us stop his forward momentum. He had a big heart and a fun-loving personality. He was someone we all rooted for to succeed.”
Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas knew Emery from junior hockey and the American Hockey League. He said Emery’s “smile and intelligence made him a magnetic personality.”
Emery played in a charity hockey game on Saturday night organized by Zac Rinaldo of the Nashville Predators. After word of his death spread, condolences poured in.
“I will always remember Ray as a good person first & foremost,” friend and former teammate Dan Carcillo wrote on Twitter. “I envied his demeanour. He had a contagious personality.”
Former teammates pointed to Emery’s mentorship and leadership, especially in his final professional season in the AHL in 2015-16. Enforcer-turned-analyst Paul Bissonnette, a teammate with the AHL’s Ontario Reign, said Emery would treat other players to dinner almost every night.
“I’d heard nothing but great things before meeting him,” Bissonnette said. “And it was true.”