If any player personified the 2009-10 New York Rangers, it was Sean Avery. When he brought his game, he and the Blueshirts won games and were entertaining while doing it.
This was all despite Avery being a shadow of the player Rangers fans fell in love with when the winger was acquired from Los Angeles in 2007.
Avery's game changed after being benched for Game Five of the opening round of the playoffs last season against the Washington Capitals. Avery took two penalties that nearly cost the Rangers the game.
Avery was benched for Game Five— a game the Rangers lost— but later said he deserved the benching. Tortorella said that Avery needs to learn where the line is, and not cross it.
It was evident last season, though, that Avery doesn't know where that line is. At times during the season, Avery was barely visible on the ice. He played tamed and downright soft.
He only showed flashes of the play that made him a household name, usually resulting in a breakout game, such as in early January against his former team, the Dallas Stars. Avery exploded for two goals and drew several penalties while being named the first star of the game.
It's debatable that Avery is the most important member of the team aside from goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. The team and the arena come alive when Avery is at his worst, and if the Rangers will have any success this season, Avery will have to be at the center of it.
Luckily for the fans and the organization, Avery promised that we'd see the Avery of yesteryear come back this season on MSG Network Thursday night during an interview with Al Trautwig and new teammate Alexander Frolov.