First of all, let me begin by saying hello since this is, after all, my first article here on BR. My attention was brought to an ad on another site regarding BR, and I was immediately intrigued.
Upon completion of my registration, the first thing I read was a response to Sean Avery's shenanigans Sunday, and I just couldn't resist. Honestly, I was about to go to sleep, but this article was just far too tempting to put off.
I wouldn't exactly call myself a Sean Avery "fan," but the guy has made more than a few impressions on me. Whether he is making possible racial slurs or waving his hands in front of a goalie, he always seems to be a topic of discussion.
Regardless of your take on Avery, the guy is quickly solidifying himself in Hockey History.
If you look back in the aforementioned Hockey History, you would find a surprising number of famed players who got that fame from classless acts. You would also discover at least one carbon copy of Sean Avery in every generation of hockey.
It's almost frustrating to see professional sports regarded as some holy activity based on class. This sport is built on competition, and the best competitors do whatever it takes.
I will take a moment now to clarify that I don't commend Sean Avery on his actions, and I certainly hope I don't see this happen often. I am of course talking about Avery standing in front of Martin Brodeur, waving his stick and hands in Brodeur's line of vision in order to distract him during the First Round Stanley Cup Playoff game between the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils Sunday.
However, the act itself stands as a testament to Avery's style and the nature of playoff hockey.
Let's face it: This is the Stanley Cup people. There isn't a trophy in any sport that is more difficult to win. There isn't a single player in the NHL who wouldn't wave their hands in front of Brodeur for a chance to win the Stanley Cup.
No, Sean Avery won't win the Conn Smythe trophy—at least not for this—but he knows a little something about the difference between regular season and playoff hockey.
I also enjoy his attitude, being that the Eastern Conference is heavily chosen as the underdog to the Western Conference because any Eastern team in the Stanley Cup Finals will need any and every edge they can get. Sean Avery is clearly an "edge" kind of guy.
In a situation like this, it is the principle of the action that stands out to me as opposed to the action itself. Let's face it—the guy looked a little goofy waving his arms around, not even paying attention to the play. It's the fact that he was trying to find a creative way to get his team on the scoreboard.
Sure he was trying to be frustrating, trying to get on Brodeur's nerves, but the root of his actions were to get a goal in the net. The even deeper root of it was the Stanley Cup and his obvious desire to win it.
Honestly, could you imagine if he had a Stanley Cup ring? We'd never hear the end of it, and I'd almost love that. Of course it was unsportsmanlike. He did everything short of tie a blindfold around Brodeur's helmet, but I can't stress enough that the key element here is the principle: Avery was simply doing anything he could think of to win that hockey game.
You think Sean Avery has no class? I really don't think it bothers him when he contributes to his team's success as much as he does.
Looking back to Canada versus Russia in 1972, Canada didn't play classy. In fact they were down right dirty. They had to be; they would have lost playing any other way. People remember Canada won that series, people remember Paul Henderson's goal, but a lot of people forget how brutal and dirty Canada had to play to win.
Jump back to Sean Avery—he's really just playing in the wrong generation of hockey, apparently. He plays no dirtier, with no less class and no less honor, than the hundreds and hundreds of champions in years before.
Somehow we care almost too much about honor and class in this day and age. Our standards are too high. I'm not saying class and honor aren't present in hockey, but I don't see the dishonor or lack of class in Avery.
Simply put, Sean Avery is a solid asset for any team trying to win the Stanley Cup. Not even considering his regular season stats or his four points in three games in the playoffs, he adds a lot more.
He's distracting, both directly and indirectly, he gets in peoples faces, takes them out of a play, either physically or verbally. Players are aware of Avery, I've seen guys completely miss part of a play because they were eyeing him.
Hockey is a fast game, and if a player takes his focus off the puck for a second because Avery has attracted his attention, he could be out of position for the rest of the play, which can always lead to a goal.
Maybe you don't think this tactic has class, maybe it's dirty, dishonorable, not in the nature of the game, but face it—the nature of the game is to win.