The Avery legacy: It’s complicated


Now that Sean Avery is gone, there is a growing sense from his old teammates that his act in New York extended beyond the eye-rolling, boys-will-be-boys variety — something “Larry Brooks touches upon today”:


For instance, following the Rangers’ home-opening win over Chicago, Brandon Dubinsky made the remark that this year’s team relishes being together, and that “that’s certainly something that has changed here.”

When I asked Dubinsky that night what he meant by that, the sophomore center said he wasn’t looking to disparage last year’s team, but this year’s group is simply closer. If you need to do the math, consider that Dubinsky this year has already spoken glowingly about Jaromir Jagr and Brendan Shanahan, but not about Avery (yes, he could also be dissing Martin Straka, Marek Malik, and Jason Strudwick, but let’s just say I doubt it).

Throw in some pointed remarks about Avery to Brooks from the otherwise genial Stephen Valiquette, and I detect at least one trend: Dubinsky and Valiquette sat on either side of Avery in the MSG Training Center locker room, so they probably suffered the brunt of Avery’s running commentary.

None of this is necessarily a surprise. Even when Avery is here, there was always the sense that his presence in the locker room was a complicated balance.  I have never questioned that he made the Rangers better, because I think we all can agree that he made them a far more difficult opponent to face. But I also thought the team made the right move in not re-signing him to a long-term deal because his personality and his vulnerability to injury made him an unwise investment.

It certainly helps the Rangers get over Avery when they’ve started 6-1-1 and they guy they essentially brought in to replace him, Aaron Voros, is currently among the NHL’s leading scorers. Maybe we should revisit the topic in a couple of months, but given the significance of Avery returning to the Garden tonight, the move looks pretty good now.

More later…

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  1. The way Voros is playing right now I’d rather have him. He’s more of a team guy. Avery was worried about number 1 from the moment he got here…did I like him, absolutely but this team is better without him.

  2. I don’t really understand where the comments about Avery being injury prone come from in the press. Since becoming a full time player with LA the guy played 75+ games per year over the next three years. Last year he missed a touch more than 20 games. Hardly a strong case for being always injured. Its not like he’s Forsberg.

  3. Well said Staal. I’m not going to hate on Avery too much, since next to Shanahan he was my favorite player in his time here. But if the team is better without him, so be it. I still think the guy is good for the game. Every good story needs a villain, and the guy sure is entertaining to watch. But just like he’s loyal to himself, I’m loyal to the Rangers. If Paul (Brawny Man) Mara crushes him, I won’t feel bad in the least

  4. I must admit, when Avery signed with Dallas I was upset and didn’t agree with the move. I still think NYR needs that sandpaper that rubs their opponents the wrong way but after watching this team play as a unified and cohesive unit it’s hard to argue Sather’s methodology for letting him go.

    You get the sense the rest of the guys weren’t in love with him either, I don’t think anyone was sad to see him leave. He was entertaining but in hindsight NYR made the right move.

  5. My guess is that Avery will not come out and play his usual style against his old teammates. He will be more subdued, maybe take a run or two at some of the new, young guys though.

  6. Joe in DE
    Speaking of Mara, I gotta tell you all, this guy is playing like a totally different defenseman. He and Staal both play pretty darn physical, and Mara doesn’t seem to back down from anyone.

  7. “Even when Avery is here, there was always the sense that his presence in the locker room was a complicated balance.”

    = Detriment to a developing team trying to bond.

    6-1-1 without Avery this season. Where’s that B.S. stat now?

  8. I do not hate Avery at all. In fact, I can see a lot of myself in him. I can definitely be a selfish self centered prick sometimes too. In fact, I doubt there is anyone on this blog that is not like him in some way shape or form sometimes. He was good for this team when he was here, and that is the bottom line. He is gone, but I am not going to forget what he did and meant to this team. It makes me laugh, but doesn’t surprise me how fast people on here turn on someone. So for what it’s worth, I would rather have a guy like Avery on my team than many of you. I am not attacking anyone here, and not saying that I don’t like any of the people who dislike Avery, not that many of you would care even, or not that it even matters, but I will take a guy who plays hard for his team and fans over someone who is so quick to turn on someone any day of the week. Christ, look how some of you view people on the team now on a night to night basis. Someone is so great one night and so worthless the next.

  9. I personally LOVED Avery when he was with the Rangers… I can’t just turn on him now, because he’s with another team, ESPECIALLY in the West. We play them once this year, so its not any big deal. If he signed with a division team that we could play 6 times, then in the playoffs, I’d probably learn to hate him. I’ll be wearing my Avery jersey tonight at the game.

    That being said, anybody looking to go tonight? I MIGHT have an available ticket, in 304, for face value ($52).

  10. There are many people who haven’t liked Avery for a long time, Beer Me, being one of them, so I don’t mind the bashing from him, but people who loved the guy last year and hate him because he switched uniforms, just doesn’t sit well with me. If someone came in to your office or street corner or wherever you work right now, and offered you more money for doing the same thing you do now, chances are you are going to take it with a smile on your face.

  11. Nasty-

    I agree with you in part, many of the people on this board are not loyal at all. But I don’t agree with the self centered pr!ck part. I don’t see the good in that. In fact, it’s one thing that Avery was a coarse piece of sandpaper on the ice, but to be that way with his own people made him a piece of sh!t. There have been alot of players who got under the skin of their opponents (Claude Lemieux, Esa Tikkanen, etc) but none equally got under the skin of their own team like Avery.

    I liked him too as a player, but as a person he is garbage. There is never a reason to be that self centered and one way. Those are the people ruining our great society.

  12. Rmant, I am not going to get in to a debate on ethics in society, because I don’t think this extends that far. We are talking about a sports team. And when I said I see a bit of myself in Avery, I didn’t mean 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Everyone is self centered sometimes, it is just human nature. What I mean is, on the ice, he did what he needed to do. He plays that role better than anyone ever has. I gladly take Voros now, because I think he will ultimately be a better fit on our team, and he is much bigger and has skill as well, but I like Sean Avery the hockey player a hell of a lot.

  13. I was one of the biggest Avery supporters and I’m still very torn about him leaving. Yes, I see the 6-1-1 record, but I’ve also seen some rather bland, uninspiring hockey this season (the entire game vs. Buffalo, the first 2 periods against the Leafs, the beginning of the game vs. Detroit) and can’t help but think that Avery might have been useful for lighting a fire at those times and waking the Rangers up. Still, I do agree that this is very hard-working, cohesive Ranger team…probably the most cohesive since the first year back from the lockout.

    I personally will cheer Avery tonight, and I think most people at the Garden will. He worked his ass off on the ice and deserves plaudits for that. The off-the-ice stuff is what it is, and the Rangers are better without it, but he certainly made things very entertaining while he was here.

    Now, if Avery goes after someone, he’ll get booed, as well he should.

  14. If Avery goes after someone and they respond, he’ll do his usual routine and “turtle”. He’s the best at it. I’d like to see Orr or Mara catch him before he goes into his shell.

  15. What I also mean is how this guy was PRAISED by all in red, white, and blue the whole time he was here. By fans, coaches, announcers(for the Rangers), and so on. And the minute he is no longer on the team, everyone all of sudden changes their tune. Just goes to show you what we are all spoon fed, and thank god we can all think for ourselves. My only point is, do you now hate Avery because everyone else is saying we should hate Avery, or because now he is not on your team anymore, or because you always did, but cheered for him because he was a Ranger? Or maybe some of us aren’t sure.

  16. And maybe not everyone is saying we should HATE Avery, but people are sure suggesting completely the opposite of what they were suggesting last year. And if you can’t at least see that, then you are blind.

  17. Nasty- That’s the part I agree with you, but part of being a hockey player is your off ice interaction and cohesiveness with your team. We all know (in society) that it’s harder to work together as a team without harmony, and Avery was less than harmonious!!

  18. “There are many people who haven’t liked Avery for a long time, Beer Me, being one of them, so I don’t mind the bashing from him, but people who loved the guy last year and hate him because he switched uniforms, just doesn’t sit well with me.”

    At least you recognize and remember that I was very high on Avery to begin with. ‘I’ (like that matters) had him on a short leash when he came to NY. I’m even surprised he lasted as long as he did. Now he’ll be even harder for Jackson/Hull to move out of Dallas with a bigger salary.

    There’s no doubt that he can fire up a team. There’s also no doubt that he’s not going to make everyone in the room happy to be around him. You have to hope that the positives outweight the negatives. And that’s a gamble that’s not worth 4yrs/$15mil. Not to me anyway. And next to the deal for Bure, and Jags, NOT re-signing Avery to that deal is the best move Slats will ever make.

    I don’t hate Sean Avery, because he IS great for exposure, but I’m glad he’s not a Ranger anymore.

  19. Stan Fishcler is the funiest, he couldn’t get enough of Avery last year and now he pretty much says he is worthless to the Rangers.

    emm I didn’t like Avery when we had him, but I rooted for him, I still don’t care for him, but I wouldn’t hat ehim until he actually did something against one of our players…

  20. True, but you are not going to get along with everyone. Life is just not that way. There were people on the team that he did get along with though. I mean, look at any team in the world. You do however stick up for your team and play for your team and the fans on the ice. I personally don’t mind if players on the same team don’t get along. As long as they play as a team on the ice.

  21. your boy Malik on

    I always said that you loved Avery on your team and hated him on the opposition…..I loved his craziness as a Ranger (but did think the Brodeur stick thing was a bit over the top) so tonight I’ll cheer him at first and then go with my original statement of hating to play against him – I hope he leaves Hank alone too!

  22. Nasty- Question…If Marty Brodeur signed with the Rangers tomorrow and Lundquist was gone would you cheer him?? Of course you would…It’s the nature of the beast, it’s sports. You cheer for your TEAM not necessarily particular players. We liked Avery when he was helping NYR win games, but are we going to like him tonight if he baits Voros into a 5 minute major and costs us 2 goals?? Of course we won’t.

    Loyalty by fans is to the team, the same way it’s to the dollar for the players. If Avery was loyal to the Rangers he would have signed for 12 mil instead of 15 mil with Dallas. My heart sure doesn’t bleed for him.

    When he comes into the garden tonight I will treat him no different that I will Mike Modano.

  23. Yeah, I suppose. But I think it DOES matter more when (if he were back this year) the majority of your team is under 30. I think vets are more likely to deal with the situation better.

    I don’t care if there’s any extra physical-ness towards Avery tonight. I don’t think that there should be to tell you the truth. THAT’S WHAT MAKES HIM EFFECTIVE! Stay away from that sh*t boys. Play smart. I just hope he doesn’t score against Hank.

  24. If Brodeur signed with the Rangers I would probably cry a little bit, and then throw up on myself, and then go out and bang my wife’s sister.

    I would just pray that Marty got hurt in his first game and we went with Valli the rest of the way.

  25. Anyone notice that Brodeur lost a lot of weight. You know damn well that “fatso” comment by Avery last year got under his skin. Shit like that makes me laugh. I understand everyone’s stance on Avery, it really is a love/hate thing, but I will miss him and his crazy antics.

  26. Drury might need a good whack, I mean let’s be honest. The guy is really not as bad as he has been playing. Let’s hope he and Naslund snap out of this funk real soon. I have no problem with him being our captain, but I kind of wanted Gomez to get it. I just like he personality, even with his cheesy smile.

  27. I’m sure that would be all of our reaction until he gets his first 3 shutouts and we say, “he wasn’t that bad as a Devil!”

  28. I don’t know if this makes sense, or will translate in type. But I think I like Avery more NOW that he’s NOT on the team. Again, not cause I hate the guy, I really don’t.

    But the statements he makes though sometimes (ok, often) are humorous, ARE classless as well. Not to say that the people he says them about aren’t classless as well, AND deserve it. But stooping to the level of those is just as bad.

    I like the publicity he brings to hockey, and I hope it’s as effective in a smaller market as it was in NY. But NY doesn’t need Sean Avery.

  29. Look, the guy is a hall of famer. There is no doubt there. He is the best of all time. I have a lot of Devil fan friends and even a lot of them hate the guy as a person and his constant whining.
    I have a lot of respect for the Devils organization and there system. I have never denied that. The one Devil that I always wished was a Ranger was Scott Stevens. If he and Messier played on the same team in the 90’s I think we would have won more than one cup.

  30. I think Drury’s play has been a combination of the new responsibility as captain and adjusting to it, and also playing with others that are struggling. Let’s face it, you are as good as your linemates and Naslund isn’t helping the Drury situation. Those guys need to be split up until one of them gets going.

  31. Let’s not forget that he also changed positions this year.

    He’ll come around and have his 20-30 goals. I’m not worried. I’m VERY glad that we have the depth to win games without our most skilled players scoring goals.

  32. Beer, I agree with that too. Very true. If this team ever clicks on all cylinders, I do not think scoring will be a problem.

  33. I agree with the Stevens comment, but the point I am making is that we as fans are mostly loyal to the team and we know players come and go. We may hate a player today and love him winning for us tomorrow, and vice versa. Avery fits that model beautifully. We all loved him playing for NYR, but now that he’s gone, he’s gone. When he wears black tonight we will be hoping he gets drilled.

  34. Sometimes people can push too far beyond when things are funny. Avery likes to push people as far as they can take it, then he will pull back and act like it was all in good fun. But when that threshold is violated constantly, it becomes tiresome and is tough to handle when things are not going well. Avery has no ability to show restraint when it is needed, and he has no ability to conceptualize how his antics are really affecting people. This team and it’s young core is far better off without Avery.

  35. He just needs to find a comfort zone. Unfortunately, since he has been here he hasn’t found a solid line that he can settle in with. I definately don’t think he should be playing with Korpie. He played with the young guys last year and it hurt him. He needs to play with a bonafide line to succeed. He isn’t a huge scorer, but he puts the puck in the net. He needs to be surrounded by a supporting cast.

  36. I feel the exact same as you, Nasty… if somebody’s a full-on, 100% supporter of Avery, and defends him, then as soon as he pulls on a different jersey, he’s scum? that’s just blindly supporting your team in my eyes. you have to have some sort of perspective… Either acknowledge he’s an ass when he’s with us, or support him either way. Just my humble thoughts.

  37. I know the line of Zherdev-Dubinsky-Voros has been playing well but I’d like to see a Zherdev-Drury-Callahan line. The mix of offensive sparkle, hard forecheck and gritty work in front would create alot of chances. Dubinsky and Voros can play with Dawes. And Gomes and Naslund can play with one of the other forwards. This way the balance would be evenly spread. I wouldn’t break up the Dubinsky line yet, but if they struggle I’d move Zherdev with Drury.

  38. Jeever-
    I think if anyone truly supported Avery 100% without acknowledging him for what he really was that speaks for itself. That type of person doesn’t have much credibility, therefore how can you expect much more out of him.

    I think the vast majority of fans liked what Avery did for the team and as a player and therefore he became a fan favorite. But that admiration for him was exclusive to him playing in an NYR jersey.

  39. I agree that Avery is going to go after Drury…my brother has been saying that since Avery left. I think Drury is a big part of the reason why the Rangers never came close to bringing Avery back. They’re just a perfect example of opposite personalities. Drury is soft-spoken, understated and very respectful of the game and everyone on the ice. Avery is, well, the exact opposite of all of that.

    If Avery does take a shot at Drury, the Rangers will stick up for Drury…like everyone is saying, this is a very tight-knit group. But man, tonight is going to be very interesting. I hope there’s some juice in the building tonight…even though the games are sold out, the late-arriving corporate crowd really drains the energy, especially early in the game when the lower level is half empty!

  40. Re the possibility of Avery whacking Drury, it would be the best thing that could happen to wake Drury out of his season-long funk. Worst player on the Rangers, by far, this year. If I am Renney, much more of this and I rip the “C” off Drury and give it to Dubinsky, to whom it belongs. And screw Drury’s “pride” and feelings.

    By the way, can this club learn from the Drury lesson that you should NEVER give your “C” to a mercenary import, it should ALWAYS go to an original organization player? Drury is just another one who came here for the money, not for the team. Any team going 5-10 years without signing any free agents (if the Union would allow that), would win a couple Cups just for developing and keeping the home grown talent.

  41. cake, by your logic, Messier should never have been a captain. it doesn’t matter (much) how a player gets to the team, as long as he leads and shows the qualities the team wants to honor & follow as a captain.

  42. Anyone advocating ripping the “C” off a proven NHL leader and handing it to a 2 year rookie who has played well at best is obviously lacking in any real hockey knowledge and has clearly never been a leader in their own life.

    Leading people is not something anyone can just do simply because they came up through the teams system. And to be young and lead then you must have EXCEPTIONAL skill which (as much as I like Dubinsky) he does not have. Drury has proven himself time and time again in this league. I am sure the execs at MSG aren’t concerend about him and neither should we.

  43. Like I said, I did like Avery…alot, he was easily one of my favorite players but I’m a Ranger fan first and foremost before I’m a fan of any players, except maybe Leetch, and you can’t deny that Voros right now is having a huge impact on this team.
    Don’t forget, Avery is a guy you want on you team, and if he’s not…well you know

  44. No reason to panic about Drury. He’s been awful, but I’m sure he will bounce back. And I don’t think Avery taking a run at him will affect him either way. That’s not how Drury is wired. I would like to see him get a little more emotional though. Remember in the Victoria Cup game against the Russians?! He was really fiery in that game, and I think he inspired the team. He needs to be that passionate every night for the Rangers this season.

  45. I have seen all of the Stars games this season.You can tell that some of Avery’s teammates don’t like or don’t know what to think of him.He always sits by himself at the end of bench after coming off the ice.Mike Modano reportedly was furious Tom Hicks gave Avery $15.5 million.Morrow hates Avery.Turco doesn’t sound like much of a fan either.Tucker avoided any confrontation with Avery on Saturday afternoon.Lappy challenged Sean who refused to drop his gloves.

  46. As a general rule over here if a football(soccer) player signs with another team he would get a warm welcome before the game and maybe at the end. However, if he signed for a rival team or bad-mouthed your team after he left he would be boo-ed from the start and the crowd would sing songs about his mother being a prostitute, or beastiality, or his inability to “score in a brothel”.

    Take this to Avery and i would applaud him in the pre-game skate but if he’s up to his old antics during the game i’d be leading the “He’s gay, he’s thick, he sucks Brad Richards d!ck – Avery, Avery” chants…

  47. In spite of the less desirable aspects of the Avery personna,
    and his lack of away ice bonding with his teammates, he clearly made the Rangers a much better team that played harder & grittier with him in the lineup.

    That said, he was definitely not worth the # of years & $ he got from Dallas, mainly due to the injury issue. He is a smallish guy for how he plays & although he hasn’t missed games, the past 2 years he played hurt often with his wrist injuries & was pretty much unable to shoot quite often.

    We are already overpaying a # of good players, & we were right in letting him go.

    Fishler is a giant turd for now bad-mouthing both Avery & Jagr now they are gone, while praising them to the skies while they were here.

    They were BOTH tremendous contributers while here and deserve our thanks, although I love this team’s speed, work ethic, & potential. Our upside is much greater this year.

  48. UKRanger, but he did badmouth the Rangers after he left. Talking about how he signed with the “better” team and how the guys that the Rangers signed won’t make in NY and how the Rangers made a terrible decision.

    Not the worst of words, but still badmouthing none the less.

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