Amidst the warm and fuzzy sentiments of the Rangers’ nine-game point streak, Sean Avery confirmed today that he has broken off talks of a contract extension with the team.
“We’re extremely far apart on each other’s views of what I am worth as a player,” Avery said.
The left wing, who went through a bitter arbitration dispute with the team during the summer, added that he didn’t anticipate talks resuming before the end of the season.
“I think it’s probably mutual,” he said of whose decision it was to break off talks. “When you’re not agreeing on a monetary value when you’re negotiation a contract, there’s no point in beating a dead horse.”
Avery has stated numerous times that he loves playing in New York. He repeated that today, but also sounded like he wouldn’t be afraid to walk away if need be.
“I certainly love playing for the Rangers, there’s no question about it,” he said. “But I’d probably say that window is not as open as it has been in the past.”
Curiously, when Avery was asked if his increased production of late—he has seven goals in his last 11 games—has had any impact on negotiations, he said his view of his worth as a player hasn’t changed. Right. But unlike, say, two months ago, he actually has a leg to stand on. Fact is, it’s harder to sell a team on your worth when you’re not even in the lineup, let alone not scoring goals.
As for what it all means, naturally the reporter in me isn’t going to complain that Avery decided to go public with his contract situation. But if I were one of his teammates, I’m not sure I’d be as thrilled. While everyone from Avery to Tom Renney said the player’s looming free agency won’t be a distraction, it’s still an element an otherwise unified team can do without as they approach the final month of the season.
Not that Avery still isn’t a source of amusement. At one point in practice today, he and Brandon Dubinsky collided on the ice during a drill. The two quickly apologized to one another, but Jaromir Jagr decided to take it a step further, bringing the three of them together for a group hug.
Later, when news that Avery had spouted off today made its way through the dressing room, Brendan Shanahan said to Jagr, who temporarily served as Avery’s spokesman, “He should have stuck with the arrangement when you spoke for him.”
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