Sean Avery is on re-entry waivers. Lowetide (who I have tremendous respect for) has a post up this morning suggesting that the Oilers should make a claim for his services. It makes a ton of sense from an on-ice perspective, particularly with Ethan Moreau injured, but I think he’s wrong.
What It Isn’t About
I didn’t write Avery off because of his six-game suspension earlier in the year. His comments, while stupid, classless, and ill-advised are hardly grounds for the nonsense he’s had to go through since then. Even the six-game suspension was nonsense; consider that Chris Pronger gets one game for elbowing Dean McAmmond in the head, and Sean Avery gets six for making nasty comments about an ex-girlfriend.
It’s ludicrous. Remember the slew-foot that injured Denis Grebshkov not all that long ago? The NHL views that offense (3 game suspension) as being half as serious as saying bad things about a celebrity. It isn’t a defensible argument.
It isn’t about how Avery supposedly destroyed the Dallas Stars early in the year either. The blame for that falls almost entirely on Marty Turco and his .897 SV%. Over his first ten games, Turco had a .900 SV% or better in only two games. Over his last ten, he’s done it seven times. To scapegoat one player for the struggles of the team (as Ottawa did to Ray Emery a year ago) may be convenient for certain commentators, but I very much doubt that it’s accurate. Unless, of course, that one player is the only goalie the team is willing to play.
What It Is About
Sean Avery, over his 12 years in the OHL, AHL and NHL, has set a pattern. It’s a pattern of disrespect – disrespect for his teammates, the opposition, his coaches, and virtually everybody not named Sean Avery. The fact that people keep giving him chances is a tribute to his non-trivial on-ice skills – he was an incredibly useful player last season, and that shouldn’t be denied despite his defects of character.
Back in November, I wrote an article about Steve Tambellini’s decision to claim Jesse Boulerice; a decision I harshly criticized because I felt that Boulerice was an embarrassment to his jersey and hockey in general. I feel similarly (albeit not as strongly – classless words aren’t in the same category as crosschecking someone in the face) about Sean Avery.
I wasn’t convinced until I read this article by Chris Botta, a former media relations V.P. with the New York Islanders.
This is at least the second time Avery’s been accused of using racial taunts; Georges Laraque accused him of it while Laraque was playing for the Oilers and Avery for the Kings, and Laraque could have little reason for making that story up. That kind of behavior should not be condoned, and should not be welcomed on a team with any professional pride.
When a player dons a jersey, everything he does reflects on his organization. A team like the Edmonton Oilers would certainly benefit from Avery’s considerable on-ice talents, but it simply isn’t worth compromising the principles involved.