Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Where to start with Sean Avery?
There may not be a more controversial player in Rangers history.
Some love him. Some can't stand him. Wherever you stand, you can't help but notice him.
Avery was traded to the Rangers in the middle of the 2007 season, where he scored 20 points in 29 games to help lead the team to the playoffs.
He played one more injury plagued season before signing with the Dallas Stars.
That didn't work out well. After his infamous "sloppy seconds" comment, he was put on waivers where he was re-signed by the Rangers.
John Tortorella, while working for TSN, said that Avery shouldn't be in the NHL. That was a sign of an ominous tenure.
While Avery was often effective while playing, he was benched frequently and eventually sent down to the AHL.
But Avery left a mark on the Rangers. He's known for the "Avery Rule".
In the 2008 playoffs, Avery stationed himself directly in front of New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Broduer and raised his stick in the air, moving it from side to side. The tactic was so effective, that the Rangers eventually scored.
But it came with a ton of controversy. Brodeur was not happy:
"I've been watching games for 33 years and I have never seen anything like that in my life," Brodeur told the New York Daily News. "If it's within the rules, it's within the rules. The official came over and said it probably wasn't something that should be done.
Hockey commentator Don Cherry wasn't either:
"I've known this kid since he was about 16 years old," Cherry told Toronto radio station The FAN 590. "Once a jerk, always a jerk. You can't blame the referee, because he couldn't believe what he was seeing. Could you believe what you were seeing? I've never seen anything like that and I've been in every league that's ever existed."
The incident eventually led to the "Avery Rule" which states that:
"An unsportsmanlike conduct minor penalty (Rule 75) 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."
On a personal note, I was actually at that game (The arm that's above the woman in this picture is my right arm). One of the things I remember most was that Chris Drury was stationed next to Avery. While the puck left the zone, Drury pushed Avery away from the net, and barked something at him, probably telling him to stop. Avery didn't, and he eventually scored.
It was an unbelievable scene that summed up Avery. If he was on your team, and he was doing what he does best —agitating opponents, drawing penalties and helping score goals—you loved it. If he was crossing the line, you hated it. Either way, he goaded opponents into often unnecessary penalties.
The Sean Avery saga is a complicated one. I know a lot of fans who swear by him, even wishing he was not sent down during the Rangers run to the Eastern Conference Final, saying that he was the missing piece. I also know of fans who were happy to see him go.
Personally, I think he's effective when he doesn't cross the line. Unfortunately for Avery, he crosses it way too often.
Avery is not currently signed by an NHL team, and there's no indication that he'll return to the league anytime soon.