Ray Emery has got one thing right – the Ottawa Senators' poor playoff performance wasn't his fault.
I mean, the last time he started a game was Feb. 28, a loss in Philadelphia.
And anyone who would lay the whole mess that this season has been in Ottawa solely on the temperamental netminder's doorstep is naïve to think the Sens' issues begin and end with Emery.
That said, he must go.
The Senators' margin for error is gone. After the debacle that this season evolved into, the last thing GM Bryan Murray can do now is take a chance that Emery could remain in Ottawa, re-gain his form and be the team's No. 1 goalie again. Because even if Emery did all that, history suggests there are still likely to be issues, the same sort of issues – missing a flight in the playoffs last year, for example – that were tolerated when the team was a veritable juggernaut.
The tolerance level, after this season though, is zero. So go Emery must.
It doesn't matter that there are going to be questions asked about a potential tandem of Marty Gerber and unproven Brian Elliott or that the crop of free-agent goalies this summer is less than stellar.
Ottawa has unsuccessfully tried to trade Emery and it's doubtful there's a market now, but you never know until you try – again.
And that obviously is what Murray will do.
Failing that, though, it seems pretty obvious a buyout is the way to go.
Because Emery doesn't turn 26 until Sept. 28, the Senators catch a huge break. They are only obliged to pay him one-third of his remaining salary, not the two-thirds amount that is paid out to players who are 26 or older at the time of the buyout.
And that one-third figure helps soften the blow against the salary cap.
The CBA stipulates that the salary cap hit on a buyout is spread out over twice the remaining term on the contract. Emery is contracted to make $3.25 million next season and $3.50 million the year after that. The actual calculations on what is owed him get a little complicated for CBA non-experts like us, but suffice to say the number will come out at around $2 million, which can be applied against the cap over the next four seasons. The annual cap hit fluctuates from year to year – again it's far too complicated to explain here – but the bottom line is that the Senators would be responsible for a cap hit of around $500,000 for the first year, around $250,000 for the second year and between $500,000 and $600,000 in each of the third and fourth years.
The point is, it's not an onerous amount of cap space to eat up.
As for timing, if the Sens are going to buy out Emery, the first window opens June 15 or 48 hours after the conclusion of the Stanley Cup finals and that window closes on June 30. For teams that have salary arbitration cases, there's a second window that opens after the last salary arbitration award, later in the summer.
The Sens have a lot on their plate. They need a new coach. They need a puck-moving defenceman and some defensive depth. They need secondary scoring and – cue the cliché – they need their best players to be their best players.
But if they're going to work towards all those goals, the one thing they can't have is distractions. Or even the hint that one could be awaiting around the corner.
Emery shouldn't be made the fall guy for all the Sens' woes this season, but he was a contributing factor and the club simply cannot allow that happen to again.
So Emery must go.