Not much can be said that hasn’t been regurgitated already by every media outlet in North America. Big or small, cold or warm, everyone is still talking about Sean Avery. From Perez Hilton to the Associated Press, everyone's gottten reads about the most hated man in hockey.
The problem is that everything is all "he said she said" or opinions being given by some who dont understand the role Avery fills on the ice.
I am far from being an expert on the man I have never met, but we share some similar personality traits and a similar on ice temper, so I figure I may be more qualified than some to comment because I'm a “reformed” agitator, reformed only because my skates for the time being are hung-up.
Agitation is more than an act or a job, it truly is a mind set and to a degree a sickness. It is the ultimate form of goonery and I am proud to say I was, and when I step on the ice, continue to be one.
As a player I was a lot like Avery appears in a Stars uniform on TV, constantly under the skin of the other team, chirping at refs, and pushing and shoving near the goaltenders and in the corners. Furthermore, like Avery, when my team struggled so did I production wise.
I learned early on that my skating, stick handling, and scoring touch were sub-par, but found my knack for annoyance was second to none on the team.
I had found my role on the team as an agitator, as I was too small for enforcing.
I slashed, swore, cross checked, and argued with refs more than anyone. I would get checked in the corners, and as the opponent would skate away I may trip, or wrap my legs around his to prevent him from getting in on the play. I got caught more times than I care to remember.
I prided myself on having a “take anyone on" mentality, and still to this day hold that same ideal. I back down from nothing and no one. Back then it was a kid twice my size and talent. Now it is more of a focus on building for the future.
True, I am no Sean Avery, but I am closer than I may seem. Even physically, Avery and I share the same stubble beard and are smaller guys in stature.
As more and more information comes out about Avery, I feel as though I am, at times, reading about myself. Although I would never have publicly said what he said, had I been him, I would have in private. Furthermore, he is described within the Stars locker room as an outsider, and to a degree I was always a quiet one.
My personality was always different on and off the ice, and at times it took a lot of work. For Avery, he appears to be the same person on and off, likely leading to many of these issues.
Even today I must remind myself life and hockey are not the same. The language I may have used on the ice is not appropriate in an argument with family or friends. Hockey may be my life, but my life is not like Hockey.
I was always loved by my teammates; I was (to my knowledge) a joy to have in the locker room. I worked hard and was liked by my coaches. I left in my prime (of sorts) and it saddened many of my teammates.
Here, it seems, is the most notable difference. Even in this young season Avery is hated by his Dallas Stars teammates.
James Duthie of TSN spoke to several Stars players in his latest article. The players agreed to be quoted as long as they were not named.
"We hope it's the last time we ever see him," says one veteran. (I’m betting it is the usually quiet Mike Modano)
"Our locker room is the happiest it has been all year right now," says another player.
"An apology (to the team) won't work," says a third player. "There isn't much he can say to change the way we feel right now. We have a lot of pride in this organization. He isn't welcome here anymore."
"He's been undermining everything we do," says the veteran. "He doesn't pay attention; he's not smart enough to play our system. He can't do some drills properly. He says it's because he's 'independent.'
Really, he's just not smart enough."
Harsh words coming from teammates, but who can blame them.
Avery arrived in Dallas priding himself on being the most hated man in the NHL while also being the one player (by actual voting, not little people in his head to my knowledge) everyone wants on their team.
Clearly the Stars didn’t get that memo.
While as a fellow agitator, and a guy who in many ways emulates Avery (in fashion sense, and remembering the good ole’ days while watching him play for the Stars), I hope Dallas will stick by him. All things considered I don’t expect them to.
Truly, I think Avery is one mixed up, messed up guy. I think the acting persona he had is over and he seriously has a psychological issue. In truth it seems he is still hurting over Elisha Cuthbert. Love can do that to even the toughest of men.
It seems crystal clear the Stars will not back up Sean Avery, even to see if he comes out a more mentally healthy and clear headed individual after his suspension and anger classes. I can’t blame them, but I can still wish they would. He may have tossed my favorite team’s good name in the dirt, but I still stick by the guy. Looking back, it seems like his outbursts may be a cry for help from a guy searching for identity, as no one truly likes to be hated.
Maybe I will be the one name in any form of media who does stick by him and doesn’t hate him. Maybe I am someone who can, if only by an ounce, understand him.
Likely the next Stars game I attend after Christmas will not feature Sean Avery. Sadly, he was the most exciting aspect of going. The game will be a little less exciting now without a man I often compared my own playing style to.
What’s next for Avery?
I hope he starts a fashion magazine, through his presence on the Stars I have begun dressing better. I’m sure my girlfriend, a fashion design major, would agree my adoration of him has helped my fashion sense. Hell, he could call his magazine “Agitator” with a smaller script under the title reading “For the man who doesn’t like sloppy seconds”.
Wherever Avery lands, ill be rooting for him as agitators, much like goaltenders, are a different breed in the hockey world. To a small degree we are a brotherhood. Even if his team won’t stand by him, I will.
Quotes: Courtesy of TSN article by James Duthie. AVERY'S TEAMMATES HOPE 'INDEFINITELY' MEANS 'FOREVER'
Ken Armer is the NHL Community Coordinator for Bleacher Report and also serves as the Community Leader for the Dallas Stars. He can be contacted on his profile or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.