Some people say that Sean Avery is good for the game of hockey, but I am not among them. Sure, the agitator plays a useful role on any team, getting under the skin of opposing superstars to get them off their game, drawing penalties at key times etc. And I enjoy a colorful character off the ice as much as the next fan. There are far too many canned responses in pre and post game interviews these days, so it is always refreshing to hear an honest opinion. However, Sean Avery goes so far across the line on and off the ice I have no respect for him.
Last spring he was at his irritating best in the New York Rangers' playoff match-up against the New Jersey Devils. He was a thorn in the side of superstar netminder Martin Brodeur, and clearly had the 3 time Stanley Cup champion off his game with his chirping and his stick-waving antics. After the series was over Avery refused to take the high road after Brodeur snubbed him in the handshake, childishly calling him "Fatso" in a post-game interview.
The word childish can sum up many of Sean Avery's actions over the past few years, and his latest antics are more of the same. When speaking to media prior to the Dallas Stars game in Calgary Avery made reference to the relationship between Flames defenceman Dion Phaneuf and Avery's former girlfriend Elisha Cuthbert, claiming it was a common thing for guys in the NHL to fall in love with his "sloppy seconds". The NHL took immediate action, suspending Avery indefinitely for his inappropriate comments.
When Dallas Stars owner Tom Hick was queried about the incident he replied that he would have suspended Avery had the league not done so. Sean Avery's coach, Dave Tippett was also in support of the suspension, stating that Avery had crossed the line of integrity and respect for opponents and the game.
It really is too bad that Sean Avery can't just play hockey. He is actually a very good two-way hockey player, and if he could just find that line that other colorful characters like Jeremy Roenick, Brett Hull and Brian Burke seem to be able to walk he would be a valuable PR asset for the NHL as well. Sadly, he seems unable to do that, and one has to wonder if Dallas will be the last team to take a chance on this guy. A lot of teams are willing to take a chance on damaged goods providing the potential return is higher than the headache that comes with them, but at this point Avery is such a blinding migraine that even if he was the second coming of Rocket Richard teams wouldn't touch him with a ten foot pole.
Good job Mr. Avery, you might just have talked yourself out of an NHL career.