After recently purchasing a new Rangers jersey (went with a heritage third Derek Stepan) I was quickly put on the spot to figure out who my favorite players on the Rangers were. It turned out my order went Avery > Lundqvist > Stepan. Why did I get a Stepan jersey then, you ask? Well, my brother has an Avery, and who wants to be just another Lundqvist? Figured I’d be one of the first of many Stepan jerseys to grace the Garden, but that’s a topic for another Player Profile. Anyways onto my favorite Ranger, Sean Avery. Avery is one of the more confusing players that the NHL has to offer. He has this reputation around the league of being a dirty player but when is the last time you can remember that Avery went on the ice with the intention to hurt somebody? I can’t remember one time. There’s a reason Avery is so crucial to the Rangers, and I’m here to tell you why…
Weight: 195 lbs
NHL Experience: Currently in his 9th NHL season
Before the NHL:
Before making it to the NHL, like most other Canadians Sean decided to go the route of the CHL to develop his skills as a teenager, more specifically, the Ontario Hockey League. Sean maintained modest success in this league recording over a point per game for every season he was there aside from his rookie campaign, all while spending a good amount of time in the penalty box, another place where Sean makes a living. Avery was signed as a free agent by the Detroit Red Wings before his final season in the OHL. After being signed to his pro contract, Sean had his best season in the OHL, recording 28 goals and 56 assists in 55 games, not to mention the 215 PIMs he added that season as well.
After leaving the OHL Sean was unable to make the Wings and headed to the AHL. Avery spent two seasons with the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks of the AHL before turning pro and never looking back (well, aside from one minor setback).
Please, you think Canada would award Avery with being able to put one of their jerseys on? He may deserve it with the effort he shows every night but Avery has not represented his country in any major tournament.
The key word in the title for this section is the word “success,” something that Avery has experienced a ton of in his time in the NHL. He’s not going to set the world on fire on the stat sheet (aside from PIMs) but every NHL fan knows his name, knows who he is, and has an opinion of him. I like to consider Avery the evil genius of the NHL. The villain to Gary Bettman’s heroes (Crosby, Ovechkin), the guy everyone actually wants to be but no one will admit.
But think about this as him being the villain of the NHL. Like I said earlier he has never intentionally on the ice done anything to injure another player, and the only major suspension he received from the NHL was when he went on air shouting “sloppy seconds” trying to get an opposing player off of his game, Avery’s bread and butter in the NHL. We all know the sloppy seconds debacle, and it’s a tough thing to get into, so I’ll nutshell it for you. In a nutshell, Avery said “sloppy seconds”, the league suspended him indefinitely, Avery was waived by the Stars, picked back up by the Rangers, the league made him go to anger management and boom, he’s back and he’s still a force at half price for the Rangers.
Anyways, I forgot this section was called NHL success, not success at the expense of the NHL.
After breaking out of the AHL, and joining the Rangers for the first and second time, Avery spent time with the Red Wings and Los Angeles Kings. In both cases I know for a fact that the fans loved him. He’s the guy in the NHL you hate to play against but love to play with (unless you’re Marty Turco). More specifically, Avery spent two years with the Red Wings and was on the roster for their Stanley Cup Victory in 2002, but since he did not appear in a playoff contest, or enough games in the regular season, his name was kept off of the Cup.
Avery was used more consistently as an LA King where he spent two full seasons and two half seasons (one mid-season trade from Detroit, one mid-season trade to the Rangers).
I remember the day that the Rangers traded for Sean Avery. My brother called me at work to inform me that the Rangers traded Marc-Andre Cliche and Jason Ward for the pesky winger and I was furious. At the time I had big hopes for Cliche as a future Ranger (the 23 year old Cliche has only played 1 NHL game), and like most fans I absolutely loathed Sean Avery. But then what happened? Well, his first game as a Ranger was against the Devils (how fitting) when the Rangers lost 3-2 in a shootout, but that wasn’t the main story of the game. The main story of the game was Avery getting in Brodeur’s face all night long and eventually even checking him at one point. That game proved that Avery knew exactly what it meant to be a Ranger, and he had every fan on his side from that moment on. It didn’t hurt that after Avery’s acquisition the Rangers went 17-6-6 to make the playoffs and eventually earn their first playoff series victory since 1997.
Avery has now spent 5 seasons with the Rangers, and in the middle of those 5 seasons was the whole Dallas, sloppy seconds debacle where Sather refused to give Avery the money he wanted, he walked, signed with Dallas, and Sather got him back at half price. One of the few genius Sather moves since the lockout.
Even with all of his “off-ice drama” Avery has been able to grind out quite a successful NHL career on the stat sheet. Playing in 514 games he has recorded 85 goals and 145 assists along with 1422 PIMs, a category he has led the NHL in twice.
Outlook 2010-2011 and Beyond:
This season, and some of last season as well, has been very trying for Avery. If you recall before he coached the Rangers Tortorella worked for Versus where he proclaimed (during the sloppy seconds era) that he would never be able to coach Sean Avery. Well coach, look what you’re doing. Now I’m in the group of fans that thinks Tortorella still doesn’t know how to use Avery. He doesn’t really know how to let him run wild and do his thing without compromising the team. The thing with Sean is, that you just have to let him be himself. Let him go on the ice and figure out where the line is and how he can then play his game from then on out. It’s no secret that Avery is much better on the ice when he’s playing his game, when he’s getting into the other team’s head and drawing penalties. Last night for example Avery was all over the place and played one of his best games of the young season, he was also able to take Crosby off the ice for two minutes. That’s Avery’s game. It’s the way he needs to play night in and night out in order to be successful.
As for what the future holds for Avery, this to me is very hard to determine. Avery has one year after this one left on his contract, and if it were up to me he would always have a spot on the Rangers, but alas it is not. It’s going to be very interesting to see if Sean even wins a spot on the team next year as this season, where Torts has given him less than ten minutes of ice per game on multiple occasions, Sean seems to be the odd man out.
Do the Rangers bring Avery back at the end of his contract? And if they don’t, does any team in the NHL take a shot at him? Or is this contract the last Avery will have in the NHL? Now, a lot can happen in that time span. Avery can show once again that he is a force to be reckoned with and the Rangers will have no choice but to keep him, and that’s what I think is going to happen. The guy is an x-factor; he’s someone other teams have to prepare to play against. Other than Gaborik and Lundqvist, who else on the Rangers can this be said about?
Sean Avery is one of few that gets what it means to be a Ranger. He should be here. I want him here.
About the Author
Written by Adam Gavriel