Friday, December 5, 2008

Avery's Recycled Insults

Prior to their recent match-up versus the Calgary Flames, Dallas Stars forward Sean Avery approached the media behind the back of his coach, Dave Tippett. Defying a supposed gentleman's rule throughout the locker-rooms of the NHL, Avery then remarked, "I just want to comment on how it's become like a common thing in the NHL for guys to fall in love with my sloppy seconds. I don't know what that's about."
Obviously, the intention of such a remark was nothing more and nothing less than to rile up Dion Phaneuf and his girlfriend (and Avery's ex,) Elisha Cuthbert. His intentions were slanderous but his words were not. One has to conjugate his words very euphemistically to get anything near sexual connotations out of them, something which it appears Gary Bettman's office tried to do. If that is not the case, then what did Avery say that was so awful? OK, he longwindedly commented on the private life of a colleague, Dion Phaneuf - who just happens to be a huge marketing pawn but even so, what is the motivaton for the NHL to hand Avery a 6-game ban pending an anger management evaluation? He went out of his way to call out a fellow player on his personal life in front of the press and got 6 games whilst Tom Kostopolous, who carried a criminal record, basically broke Mike van Ryn and wound up with a 3-game suspension. Colin Campbell, in charge of disciplinary issues for the league has long been seen as ridiculously inconsistent but this takes that cake - Avery didn't actually directly insult anyone.
That said, there is another reason for the harsh sentencing: the NHL had been looking to suspend Avery ever since he created a new rule by "screening" future Hall-of-Famer, Martin Brodeur. When he signed on as a summer intern at Vogue, the conservative bastion of the hockey elite saw this as a vicious affront. Thus, without even delivering a cheap hit, Avery finds himself banished to the press box for at least 6 games.
See, there's another reason for his sentencing: even on his team, very few players even find him aquaintable, let alone friendly. Earlier in the season, things got bad enough for Mike Modano to speak out against Avery and his partner in crime, Steve Ott. In a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, Kings captain Dustin Brown said, "The more people talk about it the more he'll do stuff like this." Brown was bullied by Avery in his first season with the Kings. In short, a mutual hate for Avery unites a lot of NHL locker-rooms. His influence was counterproductive for the game. "Was," as opposed to "is." As Dave Tippett said, he can only come back in the players want him to. Being such an unpopular figure, it was only natural for the league to throw a few pages of the book at him.
So there you have it: Avery, circumstantially, looks to have been used and abused by the league but in reality did everyone around him a favour in opening his door away from the NHL. Of course, there is just one moment of hilarity left: Avery isn't the first man to use the phrase "sloppy seconds" to describe Dion Phaneuf's relationship with Elisha Cuthbert: it was first featured on a blog several months ago. So desperate for attention was he that he took the words out of the mouths of us "citizen journalists" and came out looking like a fool, a fool. Let's just hope that isn't an omen.

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