Sean Avery Retires: Looking Back at an Impressive NHL Career

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Sean Avery Retires: Looking Back at an Impressive NHL Career
Jemal Countess/Getty Images

One of the greatest hockey players of all time is moving on.

Sean Avery, former New York Rangers skater, announced his retirement Tuesday on a Bravo TV segment, saying "I am officially retired, I threw my skates in the Hudson [River]."

Avery later confirmed the statement to the New York Post.

Avery gained fame and respect across the NHL for not only being an incredibly skilled two-way forward, but for being one of the league's premier gentlemen as well.

He played in 15 total games this season, totaling three points. He ranks 629th among NHL players this season with that amount.

In addition to this high level of production, Avery has been a revolutionary for the progress of NHL hockey.

While playing against the New Jersey Devils in the 2008 playoffs, Avery made the league aware of a rule that it was lacking by deliberately waving his hand and stick in the face of goaltender Martin Brodeur.

The very next day, the NHL amended its unsportsmanlike conduct penalty to include the following terms:

An unsportsmanlike conduct minor penalty will be interpreted and applied, effective immediately, to a situation when an offensive player positions himself facing the opposition goaltender and engages in actions such as waving his arms or stick in front of the goaltender's face, for the purpose of improperly interfering with and/or distracting the goaltender as opposed to positioning himself to try to make a play.

If it weren't for him, the Philadelphia Flyers might have undeservedly won a regular-season game against the Calgary Flames in 2010-11: Chris Pronger was called for the "Avery Rule" on a play in which then-Flyers captain Mike Richards scored.

After that series against Brodeur and the Devils, Avery spoke highly of the future Hall of Fame goaltender, saying "Fatso there just forget to shake my hand, I guess."

Avery's reputation for speaking so kindly of others was rightly earned.

After he found out his ex-girlfriend Elisha Cuthbert was dating then-Flames defenseman Dion Phaneuf, Avery made headlines across various media outlets by flagging down a camera to say,

You got a camera? I'm just gonna say one thing quick... I'm really happy to be back in Calgary, I love Canada and I just wanted to comment on how it's become like a common thing in the NHL for guys to fall in love with my sloppy seconds. I don't know what that's about, but enjoy the game tonight!

What a way to earn a name for yourself.

His reputation as a classy gentleman is far better than that of other players in the league.

A guy like Nicklas Lidstrom is regarded as one of the greatest defensemen of all time. When he retires, there will hardly be any tears shed. But the hockey world is going to miss Avery.

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What makes him such a well-respected man is his impeccable clean play.

He would never do something like punch a goalie in the face, board someone from behind, spray Gatorade at someone, start a fight with someone who had never fought in the NHL, or slash someone.

He would most certainly not make an incredibly embarrassing dive while playing against Jaromir Jagr.

Avery was a man of character and integrity.

Commenting on players who don't back up their words with fights, Avery once said "I think it was typical of most French guys in our league with a visor on that run around and play tough and can't back anything up."

Always a man of his word, Avery backed up everything he said during a game against the Flyers this preseason.

After Philadelphia's Zac Rinaldo pushed one of Avery's teammates into the boards, Avery threatened Claude Giroux.

The event was captured by the microphone of CSN Philly''s Steve Coates. Avery can be heard saying "You got this guy right here, get him under control or I'm gonna (expletive) kill Giroux." 

Later in the game, Avery was challenged to a fight by Wayne Simmonds. He turtled.

It is important to remember events like these, as none of them show up in box scores and are easily overlooked.

Still, the numbers are there for Avery.

He twice led the NHL in penalty minutes and his career high of 18 goals is a feat that will only be matched more than 100 times this season.

The amazing career ended in glorious and dramatic fashion, as the 31-year-old was not only sent down to the AHL, but told he was not wanted in the minors.

The Rangers have not yet made an announcement on whether or not Avery's No. 16 will be retired.

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B/R NHL Featured Columnist Jason Sapunka does not actually commend Sean Avery for his career. This article was intended as humor. Sincerest apologies to Avery fans, but this is a point of view shared by many hockey fans regarding the former player.

Sapunka is available on Twitter.

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