While it is hard to imagine Sean Avery being associated with a group of heroes like the members of the US Marine Corps, there is a saying in the Marines that is as familiar as "Semper Fi". It is, "no better friend, no worse enemy." That describes Sean Avery particularly well.
Most players that have played with and against Avery will most likely prefer to be in the "with" column; as opposed to the "against". I personally have a passionate dislike of Avery, bordering closely to hate. Sean Avery can play that game, he can score, he can manufacture plays, he is a good skater. So why does a player blessed with these skills lack the one thing that separates good players from bad ones? Of course I speak here of respect.
Love him or hate him, Sean Avery is paid a lot of money to play a game. As is the case in other professional sports, actually all sports in general, the main goal is to win, otherwise why bother to keep score? The NHL is one of the toughest professional sports, in my honest opinion, it takes more skill, athleticism, and perseverance to play in this league.
The Stanley Cup is the hardest trophy is professional sports to win. However, Sean Avery consistently and maddeningly disrespects opposing players and in turn, the game as a whole. Sean Avery is a talented man, being paid million of dollars to play a game.
Sean Avery occupies the auspicious post of "pest" in hockey vernacular. Among his compatriots are players like Darcy Tucker, Jordan Tootoo, Matthew Barnaby, and Mario Lemieux's least favorite player, Darius Kasparitis. These players' role is to agitate and attempt to get high-skilled players to change their focus from playing the game. A lot of people look down on these players as players who don't possess the size or skill to excel in the NHL and are therefore resigned to secondary roles on the team. With the exception of players like Darcy Tucker and Matthew Barnaby, these pests are timid to drop the gloves. Avery will only fight after he has taken the first punch.
Pests have a place in the game, they can be valuable assets at times. Some of them can also chip in offensively. But a lot of what Avery does crosses the line. I'd like to hear what is really said out there by mic'd up players.
Avery has gone on record about giving Martin Brodeur a hard time about the divorce from his wife 5 years ago. Something of a very personal nature almost set things off in the pregame warm up in a game against Toronto this season, where Avery started giving Jason Blake a hard time and Darcy Tucker came to the rescue. Avery goes after the star players, and if he was playing about 10 years ago, he'd be taking a lot of the first punches before the instigator rule was enforced.
Avery also talks about his reputation like it's a badge of honor, sort of like, "I'm a hack and damned proud of it!" Please. Avery is a player in the National Hockey League, and by association, a professional. Also, Avery whether he likes it or not, is a role model. Players may pattern their play after him, after all, he's a New York Ranger, that kind of idiocy must be what the NHL wants, right?
So, hearing that Avery ruptured his spleen in a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins and will unavailable for the remainder of the Stanley Cup playoffs (which may end Thursday anyway) was did not arouse any sad feelings within me.
While I maintain that I never want to see a player, any player, hurt, (I am not a masochist who likes to see people suffer), I think that maybe Avery is experiencing a little bit of karma. Or, perhaps divine intervention.
The Stanley Cup Playoffs should not be a venue for Avery to display the same behavior that saw teams like Detroit and Los Angeles do whatever it took to ship him off to another team. And now, no matter what happens to New York, it won't matter.
At least Avery fans can take solace in the fact that he will make full recovery in the off season and will be back to his same old antics this fall. At least Martin Brodeur will be able to fend off the tiresome barbs about his divorce with a snappy retort like, "Hey Sean, how's the spleen?"
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