Sean Avery’s days with the Rangers have been turbulent. His recent demotion to the Connecticut Whale launched chants from fans at Madison Square Garden for his return. While the Rangers have excelled in play, Avery’s role in Coach Tortorella’s system wasn’t working. Avery was informed earlier this week that he has been cut from the AHL Connecticut Whale’s postseason roster, and is no longer required to attend practices or games. Avery is in his final year of $15.5 million, four-year contract.
Avery’s role as an agitator made him a favorite with Rangers fans, but often irritated Coach Tortorella, Rangers management and many NHL opponents. Avery played 15 games with the Rangers this season, scoring only three goals and compiling a low 21 penalty minutes by Avery standards. In his two stints with the Rangers, from 2007-2008 and again from 2009 until this season, he played 264 games, had 45 goals, 78 assists and accrued 601 penalty minutes.
In a league-wide poll done by The Hockey News in 2007, Avery’s hockey peers voted him the most hated player. Avery has been known to sport black nail polish on his fighting hand to intimidate his opponent. He’s known for his mouth and a bit of a snarky attitude.
Avery is infamous for his “sloppy seconds” reference to his then girlfriend Elisha Cuthbert. He later apologized for the comment. Recently, at his Hollywood home, Avery fought with police over noise. He was arrested for shoving a police officer, calling cops “fat little pigs.” The charges were dropped.
Whether it’s making derogatory reference to a former girlfriend, or fighting at practice, Avery does use his passionate style for good. Avery was touted as the first New York athlete to vocally support same-sex marriage, contributing to the New Yorkers for Marriage Equality campaign with a 30-second video. While his energetic style is revered by some and detested by others, he continues to flourish with his sense of community. Recently, Avery and Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist opened a restaurant together which has received favorable reviews.
Scrapper and megaphone illustrates Avery as a pest, but also a pundit. It’s the survival instinct humans forget they turn on when put in a compromising situation. Avery isn’t the worst guy to have as a weapon when charged by a Zdeno Chara. He’s outspoken and unorthodox, but he’s only human. It’s no surprise Avery supports the gay marriage initiative, because it’s about the freedom to let freedom ring. Many players feel typecast by the image of who they need to be. Hockey players, in particular, tend to lead normal lives- the small town boy from Canada persona. Avery debunks that claim styling black, nightclubbing, and interning at Vogue. He recently was a guest judge on Project Runway’s All Stars and has shown at New York Fashion Week.
He’s honest about his motivations as he pointed out in a 2007 interview “In a way, I want to make our sport cooler.” He likes to get his anger out at work, “so I can relax afterward.”
The next step for Avery is uncertain. Retirement, the KHL or sign with another team are just a few speculations. This may give Avery time to pursue his fashion design interests. Tough times for a tough guy remind all of us to keep up the good fight.
Heidi has been a Rangers fan since the Gretzky years. While focusing on The Blue Line and hockey’s stalwart defenders, Heidi also connects with the human side of hockey. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, or at her blog Don’t Cross My Blue Line.