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”:http://www.nypost.com/sports/rangers/rangers.htm.
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.Â 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.