Takin' a T/O With BT: Sean Avery—Better or Not He Still Has a Long Way to Go

xx yySenior Writer IFebruary 8, 2009

Second chances—sometimes they're given too hastily, while sometimes they aren't even given to those truly deserving of one. The idea of giving someone a second, third, or fourth chance though can either energize a team and a fanbase, or it can disrupt a delicate chemistry, a subtle balance, and destroy the idea of "team".
Just ask Jerry Jones, the Dallas Cowboys, and Adam Jones.

But it seems that, no matter what, as long as someone appears remorseful they're privy to another opportunity whether they deserve it or not depending on one's opinion.

Jones' told those around him he had changed, then he fought his body guard. Others have apologized, cleaned up their act, and have been re-embraced by an adoring public as the skepticism slowly fades.

This is what currently faces Sean Avery.

Over the past few months, Avery has made headlines without even doing anything.
People still continue to wonder aloud where he'll end up, what ramifications it will have on the team he goes to, or if anyone will want to take a flyer on the super-pest.

Even amidst this speculation though, Avery's done something that he hasn't done in a long time.

He's stayed quiet.

From everything we've heard, it would seem that Avery has turned a corner; that he's found that kinder, gentler Sean that everyone was longing for.

According to his agent Pat Morris, Avery is "responsive, he listens, I (Morris) think he takes advice better, he interacts, he's kinder and gentler, and a better people person".

Granted any sort of "people person" is better than what Avery has evolved from, but why overlook reported progress? Despite his history, the things he's said and done, and the way he's acted, Avery seems to have been committed to the cause, and it sounds as if he's taken all the right steps in turning his attitude, and his life around.

But while this is refreshing, should this change anyone's perception or attitude towards him?

No, at least not yet.

But what Avery's done will strike a chord with the odd person familiar with a difficult change themselves.

If Avery stays true to the program, the practice, and himself, then he may start to gain a few people in his corner.

And maybe, just maybe, a team will come calling.

At this point, it's too early to tell which, if any, buy into Morris' selling of his client.

The Dallas Stars have put him on waivers and the New York Rangers have "discussed" the prospects of bringing him back, but nothing is solidified.

But while there will be teams discussing the pros and cons of bringing on the troubled Pickering-native, there's still a giant question that needs to be answered:

What kind of player is Sean Avery going to be once he gets back on the ice?

The level makes no difference; it could be NHL, AHL, ECHL, KHL, SEL, or any ice surface you could think of, the country he plays in is a moot point, and the money, no matter what, is going to be way too much.

When Avery was a bitter, Brodeur-screening, pain-in-the-neck four years at $15 million was way too much for a one-time 48-point player.

What will make a difference is how Avery plays the game.

Fan-favorite or not, in watching him play the game it was evident that Avery's off-ice attitude oozed out onto the ice from the dressing room through the Zamboni gate.
He was just as disturbingly quotable off ice as he was irritating on it, and those that say when Avery was on the ice (with his head on right), the Rangers (the best example of Avery's best play) were a different squad are right: being the pest that he was, Avery changed how teams approached the Rangers.

But whether you're amongst those that don't buy into Avery's change (Saying a personality disorder takes a long time to rehab) or you're hesitantly believing him, is it possible for Avery to "get his groove back? y"

There are numerous players in the history of sport who have had a quiet demeanor off the field, and eviscerated everything in site while on the field. How many of them have undergone a personality rehabilitation though?

And to how many of them were both so dangerously intertwined.

While each team does their research before a signing, there's only so much that can be done with regards to what Avery's undergone; all of the psychological tests in the world still can't tell you how he'll perform out there on the ice, and whether that $15 million super-pest is now just a $15 million super-shell of his former self.

It's harsh, but as much as people will seem to care about what Avery's gone through, ultimately they won't. If he ends up on their favorite team, then those fans will soon only care about one thing—results.

Results Avery may not be able to produce, now that the NHL's taken away his bark and his bite.

Love him or hate him, buy into his change or not, Sean Avery's journey back to the NHL has only barely started.

And he's got a long way to go, and a lot to prove, before it's done.

Bryan Thiel is a Senior Writer and an NHL Community Leader for Bleacher Report. If you want to get in contact with Bryan you can do so through his profile and you can also check out all of his previous work via his archives.


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