Sean Avery: What Makes Him a Key Player for the Rangers

Anthony PucikCorrespondent INovember 14, 2011

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 06: Jim Slater #19 of the Winnipeg Jets checks Sean Avery #16 of the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on November 6, 2011 in New York City. The Rangers defeated the Jets 3-0. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The groans of NHL fans all over the league were only drowned out by the cheers of the New York Ranger fans when the Rangers announced that Sean Avery was picked up off of waivers.

Injuries to newly acquired center Mike Rupp and winger Wojtek Wolski left the Rangers looking for a man to fill the holes in their lineup, so they decided to pick up fan-favorite Sean Avery. He returned to the ice in Madison Square Garden on Saturday, Nov. 5, against the Montreal Canadians and was greeted with “Avery! Avery!” chants from the hometown Ranger fans.

Avery certainly gets love from the fans when he is home, but when he is on the road it’s an entirely different story. Many opposing team fans do not like Avery because he is an agitator and only wants to cause trouble, but that is why the Ranger fans love him; he’s an exciting player to watch and keeps the game interesting.

Still, many wonder why the Rangers would continuously use Sean Avery when they need to fill a hole in their lineup. He doesn’t score many points (only 55 in the last two years), he’s an average skater and defensive winger, and whenever he’s in the lineup there’s almost always a guaranteed fight.

So why are Ranger fans and the Ranger coaches infatuated with this 5-foot-10, 195 pound winger? Oddly enough, they like him for the same reason opposing fans hate him: he causes trouble.

Whenever Sean Avery is on the ice, opposing players take notice. Knowing who he is and what his tendencies are, they attempt to agitate him as much as possible to try to annoy him and get him to start a fight or force a penalty to get their team on the power play.

Years ago, when Avery was younger, this used to work and he would start fights and take unnecessary penalties due to his ill temper. However, over the last few years Avery has been able to control his temper, to an extent, and that has been very beneficial for the Rangers.

Avery might have changed, but opposing players have not and still try to stir him up, but now instead of taking penalties, Avery is causing them. Opposing players become so frustrated at Avery for not retaliating that they take out their frustration on him and now they are the ones who are getting penalties and not him. Besides the power plays the Rangers acquire as a result of Avery’s presence, they are also a better offensive team as a result.

The amount of attention that Avery gets on the ice is distracting to opposing players. Even if they are focusing on the play developing, they always have an eye on Avery to make sure he won’t try anything funny. While all of this is going on, holes begin to open up as a result of opposing teams paying too much attention to Avery, and the Rangers create scoring chances as a result.

Avery is a prime example of a player who doesn’t have to score a lot of goals to be helpful to a team. His presence alone bothers opposing teams so much that he is a benefit to the offense and power play units of the New York Rangers.

Love him or hate him, Avery’s methods on the ice are effective and beneficial, and the Rangers have utilized opponents hatred and frustration of Avery to their advantage.