For reasons I'll never understand, most New York Rangers fans have an ongoing love affair with "bad boy" Sean Avery. Maybe it was that good record the team had with him in the lineup two years ago. Or maybe it was him swinging his stick in Martin Brodeur's face two years ago. Or maybe those clutch goals he scored two years ago.
In reality, Sean Avery is a third line forward who is lucky to score 35 points in a season. Many Rangers fans fail to realize this and seem to anoint Avery as some special figure in the Rangers' 85 year history. Marian Gaborik, Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan do everything they can to help the team win a game, but where are the chants for them? Every time Avery hits somebody, chants of "AVERY! AVERY!" rain down from the Madison Square Garden crowd.
In a game against the Edmonton Oilers, Avery caused quite a stir when he appeared to sucker punch Ladislav Smid after declining to fight with him after a clean hit on Colin Fraser. This sparked a huge brawl between the two teams as Avery was being led off the ice. But that was not the end of the controversy. Shortly after the incident, Rangers forward Erik Christensen said of his teammate, "It looked to me like he suckered him; I'm not going to deny it, I mean everyone could see it."
Now, while I believe that you should stick up for your teammates, Christensen's comments bring up an interesting point. Avery has been accused throughout his career of dividing locker rooms and distracting the team. With these comments, it is clear that this is very true. I'm sure there are a few in the locker room who back Avery, and I'm sure there are a few who think he's an idiot. A team cannot win with that kind of locker room. Avery, a third line player, is ruining what could possibly be a cohesive unit. In addition to this, the Rangers do not have a strong leader to keep him in check as Brendan Shanahan did when he played in New York.
As usual, most Rangers fans back Avery. They love their little Vogue boy who owns a bar and says you can wear black with brown. And for some reason, they love the hockey playing Avery who will score a pair of goals and then disappear for five games. But it is clear now that Avery is causing friction amongst his teammates. Avery is not one of those guys who is hated by everyone who plays against him and loved by his teammates. Avery is just hated by everyone, and if he really cared about the team, he'd realize this and concentrate on playing hockey.