Defending Our Boy, Sean Avery

Defending Our Boy, Sean Avery

Anyone with even a passing interest in the NHL knows who Sean Avery is. Unless you are a Rangers fan, you probably don’t like Sean Avery either. For those of you needing a refresher on some of Avery’s more noted antics, I offer the following: Sean Avery on ex-girlfriends; Avery talking about his good friend, Martin Brodeur; and finally, Sean’s innovative goalie screening tactics.

There is little doubt Sean Avery can be a jerk on the ice. Opponents tend to form a strong dislike for him. He is always the most jeered player in opposing arenas. His act can even wear thing with his teammates.

On the ice, as a Ranger, Avery can be an effective player; especially when he is toeing the line between pesky player and undisciplined penalty-taker. He skates fairly well, he is always willing to get in deep on the forecheck and deliver hits. Avery has enough offensive skill to be a useful 3rd line performer at worst, a decent 2nd liner on his best days. He isn’t afraid to backcheck either.

None of that changes the fact that Avery is the king of NHL trash-talking. His act can be classified a number of different ways; classless, cheap and tasteless to name a few. One thing I do take exception with is the prevalent belief among fans and players alike, that Avery is the “dirtiest” player in the league.

First off, allow me to offer my understanding of the word “dirty,” as it pertains to hockey. A “dirty” player is someone who consistently engages in activities that present a physical danger to their opposition. You know, like blindside hits to the head (Matt Cooke and Mike Richards), pushing someone from behind as they stand or skate just a few feet from the boards (Alex Ovechkin and Marian Hossa), and a swinging, two-handed slash to any part of an opponents body (Chris Simon). Having watched nearly all of Avery’s 163 contests as a Ranger, I do not feel Avery fits the criteria of “dirty,” as I defined above. Ok, let me clarify and expound; Avery is not the “dirtiest” player in the game.

Let’s ask Marc Savard of the Bruins if Matt Cooke is a dirty player. How do you suppose David Boothe feels about Mike Richards after the Flyer captain concussed him out with a cheap shot to the head earlier this year? Boothe missed a good chunk of the year before returning briefly only to be knocked out again, this time for the rest of the year, with another concussion.

Anyone remember noted tough guy (not) Jarkko Ruutu running Jaromir Jagr in the 2010 Winter Olympics? The Winter Olympics for crying out loud. Jagr ended up hurting his back and missing time both in the Olympics and in the NHL regular season once he returned from the Winter Games.

How about brave Patrick Kaleta charging at then Ranger* Defenseman Paul Mara with his elbows up. Kaleta caught Mara in the face breaking an orbital bone if I recall correctly. The next time Mara saw Kaleta, the “gritty” Sabres winger took another run at him. Mara dropped his gloves to fight but Kaleta wussed out and instead drew a penalty to Mara. Yeah, I know, I get that is what makes Kaleta an effective player for the Sabres but I think it’s bush league to cheap shot a player and then sucker him into dropping his gloves to get a 2 minute PP. Man up and take your beating son.

(*Disclaimer: I know I keep referencing incidents involving Ranger players but since I see 90%+ of their games and blog about them for several sites, these instances are freshest and easily accessible in my mind.)

I’m sure there are many, many instances involving many, many other players but as I noted in my disclaimer above, these are the freshest in my mind. I’m also sure that Flyers fans or Devils fans can point to some instances where Avery did something to someone on their team and that’s fine; I encourage them to do so. Refresh my memory, please.

The bottom line is this; according to my ledger, AO has injured more players with reckless play than has Sean Avery. Marian Hossa I believe is now one up on him too. Hell, Cooke may be about 5 or 6 ahead of Sean now.

There is a distinguishable difference between dirty and low-class. I can buy Avery being low-class and yes, I can see where some would believe he was dirty. But I have a hard time believing he is the DIRTIEST player in the NHL while so many other worthy candidates for the mantle exist.