Having spent three decades in hockey rinks with a notepad in my hand, it’s not Sean Avery’s choice of words in describing actress Elisha Cuthbert as his “sloppy seconds” that offends me.
While Avery’s characterization of Cuthbert, a former girlfriend who has been dating Dion Phaneuf of the Calgary Flames, was unquestionably vulgar, uncalled for and premeditated, what he said Tuesday is no more profane than the kind of trashy talk you hear out on the ice or in NHL dressing rooms.
What offends me is that Avery showed again he has absolutely no regard or respect for his teammates, his coaches, his organization or the NHL in general when he summoned reporters in the visitor’s dressing room and delivered his gutter-shot at Phaneuf and Cuthbert.
And that — not the vulgarity of his comments — is why Avery, no matter what discipline Gary Bettman delivers after a hearing in New York at noon Thursday, has played his last game as a member of the Stars. He’s more done in Dallas than Debbie. As it should be.
Take that to the bank.
“He’s an asshole.”
That’s what one member of the Dallas contingent said of Avery at Rexall Place today. Trust me. You’d be hard-pressed to find a single player in the visitor’s dressing room who takes issue with that.
Truth be told, I’ve never come across a player held in such contempt by his teammates. There’s only so much they can say on the record, but I can tell you with certainty, Avery has no allies in the dressing room, not one person willing to go to bat for him.
And, even without bringing past indiscretions into it — Avery’s comments about French Canadians being visor-wearing cowards, the accusation by Georges Laraque that Avery uttered a racial slur during a game in Los Angeles — that’s completely understandable.
What Avery did Tuesday was spit in the collective face of the Dallas franchise, from owner Thomas O Hicks, who made Avery wealthy with a lucrative new contract, to co-general manager Brett Hull, who vouched for Avery and pushed for the deal that brought him to Texas, to coach Dave Tippett and his teammates.
All about Sean
“This goes beyond hockey and beyond the game on the ice, and that’s what bothers me,” Hull told the Dallas Morning News.
“We have talked and talked and talked about being on the edge within the game but not going over the line. We told him from the start that he cannot do things that would embarrass the organization.”
Avery, from what I’m led to believe by a person I trust, has done nothing but embarrass the organization.
Avery’s statement in Calgary came minutes after Tippett had defended him in a scrum with reporters. It came after Avery was specifically told to NOT do interviews at the morning skate.
And, as anybody can see, it came with the Stars already struggling in the standings and riddled with injuries.
“It’s just so disappointing for guys who have been around here for a long time and have taken a lot of pride in how this organization has been perceived,” goaltender Marty Turco said.
While it might have been satisfying to see Avery get the snot beat out of him in Calgary, Bettman pulled the pin on a Gong Show with an indefinite suspension. Hicks followed up by saying the Stars would’ve suspended Avery on their own before he was sent home.
Now that he’s been kicked in the groin after selling him to Hicks, I’m guessing Hull, who is accompanying Avery to New York for the hearing, won’t be putting his credibility on the line again. Tippett? Uh, no.
I can’t imagine there will be any uproar from Dallas players when Bettman suspends Avery. Whether that suspension is five games, 10 games or the balance of the season, they will be happy he’s gone for as long as he’s gone — until he’s officially gone for good.
Based on Avery’s actions, I’d suggest Hicks has a shot at having his contract voided. And there’s also the possibility of a buy-out or a trade, although I can’t imagine that any self-respecting GM would think he could sell a boor like Avery to his fan base. We’ll see.
Whatever. You’re done in Big D, punk.
— Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 6pm on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on Team 1260.