Sunday, December 14, 2008

Avery Done In Dallas

I'm not sure what's harder to believe - that Sean Avery's career in Dallas (and perhaps the NHL) has ended because of a stupid remark to the press, or that SportsCenter considered this story breaking news and dropped everything to report it. Either way, the fact remains that Avery's finished in Dallas.

According to the Associated Press, just about everbody in Dallas - from coach Dave Tippett to veterans Mike Modano and Marty Turco - demanded that Avery not be allowed back into the locker room. Even co-GM Brett Hull, who played with Avery in Detroit and was instrumental in bringing Avery into the fold, agreed it was best that Avery plays somewhere else. That's rather telling.

Having said all that, it's hard to say Dallas didn't get what they asked for. Avery had ten points in 23 games, had a positive plus-minus rating on an awful team, and even chipped in three power play assists. He played 15 minutes a game and racked up 77 penalty minutes, agitating opponents all the while. His comments to the media should be no surprise to anybody who's even remotely followed his career over the years. That's part of Avery's package - you get a player whose offensive skills are criminally underrated, but you also get inappropriate comments to the media and more controversy than you've bargained four. And really, if Dallas had any questions about how this would turn out, they should have considered exactly why Avery has been shuffled around the league in such short order before giving him a four-year deal.

Is Sean Avery's career over? Probably not. He's rumored to be seeking help relating to anger management issues (and if the story on Chris Botta's blog is to be believed, that's a good idea). If Avery ever decides he wants to play hockey and not be a total pest, I have no doubt he can score 20-25 goals for a playoff team and be a valuable part of that team. Avery scored 15 goals in 57 games with a Rangers team last year that didn't exactly light up the scoreboard regularly. And we all know about the ridiculous win-loss totals the Rangers accrued when Avery played. Clearly, he's a solid player. If he can tone his act down, he can be a very good player. The problem is, after the ridiculous overreaction to this incident, which team is going to give him a second chance?

One last thing. Look at the turmoil in Dallas regarding Terrell Owens. Look at the Knicks with Stephon Marbury, when the team tried to vote him off the team last year and yet Isiah Thomas played him anyway. Only in hockey could a team effectively banish a teammate because he's not a team-first individual. While I don't agree with the media storm this story created, I think it's a great thing that the Stars were able to handle this the proper way - get the feedback of the team leaders and coach, then act appropriately.

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