26
Mar
09

A-very Warm Welcome From the Big Apple

"Hey Fatso, I'm Baaaaacck"

"Hey Fatso, I'm Baaaaacck"

 

I’m sick of reading articles and blog posts about how Sean Avery is an idiot, how he has not changed, and how he will surely wear out his welcome in New York, “like he has everywhere else.”  Listen, we all know Avery can be a punk and he does some stupid stuff at times, but lets not get carried away here; after all, he is slowly becoming a new face of the NHL.

There is no question Avery is well deserving of his league title as the “Most Hated Man in Hockey,” but I think his skill level gets overlooked by many because of his so-called ‘antics’ on, and off the ice.  Love him, or hate him, Sean Avery has crafted quite a story line over his NHL career, and I don’t think he’ll be leaving us anytime soon.  You see, Avery has really only worn out his welcome in one NHL city that he has played in, and (are you ready for this one…) that city was Los Angeles.  Before you skip to the bottom of the page and leave a “Fac-que” comment, hear me out… His first NHL stint was with the Detroit Red Wings from 2001-2003; when he was traded to the LA Kings at the trade deadline of the ’02-’03 season for a Mr. Mathieu Schneider (Maxim Kuznetsov and a 2003 1st round draft pick (Jeff Tambellini) were also sent to the Kings in the trade).  If you don’t recall the 2002-2003 season, the Red Wings were the defending Cup Champions, and were a favorite to repeat; especially after picking up a veteran offensive-defenseman like Schneider at the deadline. So I don’t think Avery wore out his welcome in the city of Detroit (so-to-speak), but rather the Red Wings were trying to bolster their roster for another Cup run and they saw Avery as an expendable part…it happens to guys every year (In case you care, Detroit ended up getting swept in the first round by Goldberg and the District-5 Mighty Ducks…I mean JS Giguere and the 7th seeded Mighty Ducks of Anaheim…the eventual runners up for Lord Stanley’s Cup). 

 I will get to Avery and the Rangers in a moment, but let me first discuss why he also didn’t wear out his welcome in Dallas either.  This one might seem like a stretch, but I am sticking to it! Avery never wore out his welcome with the Dallas Stars because he was never welcomed there in the first place.  Co-GM Brett Hull brought in his old roommate from the good ‘ole days of Detroit for $4 million a year, because he knows firsthand what Avery brings to a team and he thought Dallas needed more of it.  However, Dallas already had an established group of guys in their dressing room that had just been through a war during the 2007-08 playoffs together; losing in the Western Conference Finals to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Red Wings in six games.  Remember, this is the same playoff year that the infamous Avery Rule came into effect because of his screening tactics of Martin Brodeur (The Play Heard ‘Round the League, I think it deserves pointing out that Avery in fact scored shortly after screening Brodeur, watch the video).  Plus, Dallas already had a Sean Avery-esque player in their locker room with the likes of Steve Ott; so you can’t tell me there wasn’t some animosity towards him from other guys (especially Ott) when he came into that organization with a $4 million a year contract from his good buddy Mr. Hull.  To add a little extra, it also didn’t help that the Stars’ captain, Brenden Morrow probably hates Sean Avery more than anyone in the league.  This is from an article by Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News:

 “I have said ‘hate,’ and I imagine if we wouldn’t have signed him, I would have said I still hate him,” Morrow said. “But he’s a teammate now, and I’ll admit that I don’t really know him other than what I see on the ice. So now we need to get to know each other and work together as teammates.”

 

Tough to feel at home and welcomed by an organization where so many things seem stacked against you from the start.  But that’s just my opinion.

Now all of that leads me to my final part of this post, Sean Avery and the New York Rainjuzz.  Let’s get one thing straight, the Rangers wanted Sean Avery back after the 2007-08 season, and more importantly Sean Avery wanted to be back.  Let’s face it, the New York Rangers are a better team with Avery in the lineup (John Tortorella has also been a big reason this year, but I’m talking about his previous stint as well), and Sean Avery is a better, more complete player in New York. Unfortunately, the two could not come to an agreement on a contract (Sean Avery Contract Talk) and Avery walked when Dallas threw him an absurd amount of money.  You see, I don’t think Avery is a $4 million per year guy, but I definitely think he is worth every penny of the $1.9 million the Rangers will pay him each of the next three seasons. 

 I don’t think there is any denying that Sean Avery has above average speed in the NHL.  With just a couple quick strides he seems to get himself up to full speed, and speed is what is so important in this new era of NHL hockey. When defensemen can’t clutch, grab and hook forwards like they used to, there is no question that speed makes good things happen.  I watch a lot of Rangers games and see Avery use his explosive speed on a nightly basis.  This is a pretty good clip of Avery in action against the Boston Bruins this year (Sean Avery vs. Boston).  I think he did everything but score this game and the Garden loved him for it.  While he has above average speed, I think one area of his game that is just average (to below average) is his stick handling. But this is where I think his skill set starts to get overlooked.  See, Avery is a smart hockey player and knows how to play his game to limit his vulnerabilities (like stick handling too much).  The same can not be said about all guys in the NHL.  Avery does a great job of protecting the puck and getting strong body positioning within the offensive zone, and coupled with his speed, he creates time and space for himself.  Now, Mr. Avery also has an above average shot that he uses quite often.  There are a few guys per team in the NHL that have the quick release and speed on their snap shots like Sean Avery has, and he does a great job of getting shots off, and to the net (he has registered two or more SOG’s in all but two of his games with the Rangers this year, and was only held shot-less in his first game back after his 3 month hiatus from the NHL).  Any hockey player, or coach, will tell you that good things happen when you put the puck to the net; and they will also tell you that putting the puck on net is not as easy as it seems.  It’s how you score goals, and create offensive opportunities, and that’s just what Sean Avery has done during both his stints with the Blueshirts.  I know, I know, he’s not a 30-goal scorer, or even a 20-goal scorer for that matter, but he has quietly (or not so quietly) strung together three consecutive 15+ goal seasons.  And lets be honest, if you can score 15+ goals for more than one or two seasons in the NHL, let alone three straight (probably could be four if he just re-signed with the Rangers from the start), a couple bounces your way throughout a season and you are 20-goal scorer…bottom line.  In his 10 games back with the Rangers this year, Avery has registered 4 goals, 4 assists, a +1 rating, with 15 PIM’s (and that’s with the refs NEVER giving him the benefit of the doubt…NEVER!).  He has been paired with Scott Gomez and Nik Zherdev for the past six games, and that line has done nothing but create scoring chances, and produce, with their speed and skill level.  They have buzzed their way to a 7-7-14 (G-A-Pts) line, while leading the rangers to a 4-2 record over that span (BTW, Avery leads this group over that span with 3 goals and 3 assists).  In their back-to-back matinee games against the Flyers two weeks ago, Avery not only scored three goals over the two games, but he also did what Sean Avery does best, forced the Flyers off their game in the Sunday matcup to split the home-and-home series.   Flyers Coach John Stevens had this to say about Avery after the loss:

“I think his [Sean Avery’s] probation period is over and now he’s up to his old antics and we kind of got sucked in,” Flyers Coach John Stevens said of Avery. “We started worrying about him instead of playing the game.”

Just like in the playoffs last year against the NJ Devils, Sean Avery proved that if you let him get under your skin, he will not only make that game/series hell for the other team, but he will put the puck in the back of the net too.   Don’t underestimate this guys skill level.

More importantly, the Rangers are 7-3 overall with Avery back in the lineup, and things are starting to look better for a Rangers squad that was struggling to find their identity just over a month ago.  Granted, John Tortorella and their trade deadline acquisitions (Derek Morrris and Nik Antropov) have helped rejuvenate things too, but I don’t think there is any denying what Sean Avery brings to the New York Rangers, and that is why he finally has a place to call home.  If you have been to a Rangers game at Madison Square Garden during either of Avery’s tenures, you know how the Rangers’ fans feel about him.  He receives “Avery” chants almost every big play he has, and gets some of the loudest ovations when his name is announced (Henrik Lundqvist gets the loudest, but I guess that is why they call him a King). And finally, obviously the organization ultimately got what they wanted too. Sean Avery for $2 million per year; albeit they were probably seeking more like a two year deal instead of a three-plus year deal.  But beggars can’t be choosers, and the Rangers were certainly begging for something to happen down the stretch.  Now that that something has happened, the Blueshirts appear to be playing their best hockey of the season down the final stretch of the regular season, where every game, and every point is crucial towards the Quest For The Cup.

 If you have not seen Avery’s interview on the Canadian talk show The Hour, you need to check it out.  Here is the clip, Sean Avery Interview – The Hour. Enjoy!

 

-Coach

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1 Response to “A-very Warm Welcome From the Big Apple”


  1. March 28, 2009 at 6:32 AM

    This blog’s great!! Thanks :).


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