Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Sean Avery, What Do We Do?

Ah, Sean Avery. Hate him if you will, but he certainly keeps things interesting around these parts, doesn't he? The latest development is something he said about Dion Phaneuf's current flame (see what I did there?), Elisha Cuthbert (who also dated Sean Avery, and Mike Komisarek if memory serves me correctly). He made a comment about how guys fall for his "sloppy seconds". This probably wasn't directed totally at Cuthbert and Phaneuf, because I heard that he also dated Rachel Hunter, who is now with Jarret Stoll. Nothing like the gossip mill, huh?


It's absolutely no secret that the Dallas Stars have been sub-par this season. Oh, fine, I won't lie - they've been pretty awful. There are tons of things that fans and the media are blaming this on - among them Sean Avery. So this didn't come at a good time. I feel like if the team were performing well, a lot of fans would just have a laugh at it and move on. But having a member of the team missing, no matter how useless you may think he is, hurts. The Stars have (I think) about fifteen million dollars worth of players sitting on the bench - Brenden Morrow (ACL), Jere Lehtinen (upper body), Joel Lundqvist (shoulder), Steve Ott (hand), Sergei Zubov (undisclosed), and Avery. That's a whole lotta dollas. Sean Avery didn't need to bring another distraction to the team.

Tim Cowlishaw of the Dallas Morning News disagrees with the suspension, saying that Bettman should have just let Phaneuf pound the snot out of Avery - and I agree. In 2004, Todd Bertuzzi was suspended indefinitely for the Steve Moore incident - does what Sean Avery did equate? It's possible that they just threw out the words "suspended indefinitely" about Avery because it all happened so fast. I heard that the Stars plan to send Avery home Wednesday morning, and I have no idea when his pending hearing with Gary Bettman is.

This may have just been the straw that broke the camel's back - Avery's been mouthing off to the media and other players for awhile now, and hasn't faced any repercussions. I think that if they were going to suspend him for giving lip, they should have just done it the first time rather than letting it go on and on until he gets suspended for saying that Cuthbert and Hunter are "sloppy seconds". Certainly, Avery crossed the line with his comment that was completely irrelevant to the game. Does he deserve an indefinite suspension from the league, or should it have been handled by the team? Owner of the Stars, Tom Hicks, released a statement saying that if the NHL hadn't suspended Avery, the Dallas Stars would have. I would have completely agreed with that. The Stars like to be known as a classy organization, who treat each other and their opponents with respect and class. Avery goes against that. Brett Hull knew that when he signed Avery, and told him that he has to conduct himself properly to be a part of this team. I recall the direct quote containing the words "don't embarrass the team". Perhaps we should all be thankful that this is the first Avery Incident with the Stars.

Avery's behavior is not sitting well with the well-respected veterans of the Dallas Stars. Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News wrote an article containing some interesting quotes from other members of the organization. Goaltender Marty Turco called it "disrespectful" and "a slap in the face". Forever Star Mike Modano says that the team's identity has changed, and that the perception of them has "been tarnished a bit". They no longer get the benefit of the doubt with referees, and are no longer a "quiet, confident group". This can't mean anything good is happening in the locker room, if veterans are speaking out about Avery's behavior. Earlier this season, Modano made some comments about the rough-and-tumble nature, calling the hard-hitting game against the Bruins (okay, less hard-hitting, more dirty-hitting at times) idiotic and stupid, saying "if that's what we're going for, then they need to find me an off-ice job." There must be some discourse between players, and it doesn't leave me hopeful for the state of the team.

As for Avery's future with the Dallas Stars, I don't know anything about that yet. General managers Les Jackson and Brett Hull won't say specifics, but Jackson did say that the Stars cannot be a good team when the player puts himself above the team. Even Hull, longtime Avery supporter, says that Avery must be responsible for his own actions. Modano, though, had the most cryptic, yet strongly-worded statement:

"It's going to take some time," Modano said. "It certainly will be a situation we'll have to address when that time comes ...if it does."

21 comments:

Kerri said...

In all honesty, some of the Stars' stars had issues with Avery coming in. And yeah, that's what happens when you're the jerk of the league, but he wasn't given a chance. They didn't want him there, fine, but he's your teammate now. And I'm not finding the Stars coming off as very team-like.

Not that Avery has been. But he's a big personality, love him or hate him, and he requires spotlight, something that he probably got more of in LA and NY. With the Rangers, his crazy actions weren't hurting the team, they were helping, and although no one wants to admit it, this is because Chris Drury sucked it up, rolled his eyes a little, but at the end of the day, was the ultimate teammate to Sean. Told the press he would take a bullet for him. And let me tell you, that's why Avery was successful here.

He does these things on purpose. He loves the attention. And, of course, if Phaneuf takes an instigator has to sit in the penalty box for jumping Avery as payback, Sean wins, and Stars now get a PP, without Phaneuf on the ice. That's his game. And I have no idea why they allowed Hull to purchase him if they didn't want the outrageous.

This suspension is BS. If the Stars didn't like it, they could fine him or sit him down. But the league stepping in and being holier-than-thou? Even then, talk to me all about this being "sexiest" but at the end of the day, the Stars have half naked girls tramping all around their arena, so the higher moral standard arugment doesn't really fly. No thanks. Stick to worrying about headshots... or better yet, let's just ignore those and let them continue.

Lucky13 said...

I just posted about this on Some Like It Blue. Pretty much on the same side of the fence.

I like the "Bettman should have just let Phaneuf pound the snot out of Avery" approach.

Tracy said...

I, and I truly can't believe I'm saying this, agree with Kerri. That's his style, that's what he does. To sign him and then tell him he can't be himself is ridiculous. It equates to signing Sidney Crosby or Alex Ovechkin and telling them NOT to score any goals, "That's not what you're here for boys!"

Like my team and Carcillo. He's a fighter, we know this. However, the coaches seem to think that he should NOT fight and focus on scoring. So far it's looking like he scores more when he can let off a little steam. So let him fight and take the goal! For crying out loud...

Sorry, veered off there.

The point is that Sean Avery is who he is and the Stars new that and signed him. Don't penalize him for something you are paying him for.

Oh and I also agree that they aren't coming off very team-like. Whether you like your teammates or not, you back them up.

Tracy said...

And I just realized that it looks like I meant I didn't want to agree with Kerri... that's not what I meant. But she likes him. She and I aren't SUPPOSED to agree on anything concerning Sean Avery.

Shan said...

The suspension isn't BS. It's quite likely he was given warnings before to shut up and he didn't, so now he's suspended. If this was the only comment he ever made, he wouldn't be suspended. He's said worse stuff before, anyway.

Tracy, that's a weak analogy. It's not like telling Crosby not to score, because that IS what Crosby is there for. If you're saying it's ridiculous to tell Sean Avery not to be Sean Avery, that might be bad judgement on the part of the organization, but it's not ridiculous. You have to remember that stupid behaviour isn't a part of who anyone is. It's stupid behaviour that they can control or bad habits they can unlearn. It was an unwritten condition they made upon signing him that he not embarrass the team. I don't think Avery anticipated this level of reaction from the league or team, he thought it was funny.

As for his teammates, sure they didn't like him when he came in, so it was up to him to prove that they had the wrong idea of him. Which they didn't. Look, he might be the life of the party, that might just be "who he is" but that doesn't make it good or acceptable. He's a pretty scummy guy. There are scummier guys, but he's still scum.

I disagree with the "back up your teammates no matter what" school of thought. You help your teammates more by calling out their stupidity. If they had the ability to keep this in the locker room and then they spoke up and made it public, that would be bad team-playing, but this is his fault. It's ugly, they have to call it as it is.

Shan said...

Whoa, the captcha text said "proset".

Nadine said...

What do we do? Rejoice in an Avery-free NHL for as long as it lasts.

In all seriousness, I'm for the NHL growing a pair, using their collective brain power, sorting their shite out, and getting some real process for suspensions. This arbitrary crap is tweaking my last nerve, so maybe I'll suspend them for the cumulative bother. :p

Cat said...

This arbitrary crap is tweaking my last nerve, so maybe I'll suspend them for the cumulative bother.

That's what bugs me the most about it. I know that Avery probably got tons of warnings and whatnot, but I don't know anything about that for certain. If he did, fine, I understand suspending him. But at least let us know what's up so that it doesn't look like you pulled a suspension out of your ass.

Tracy said...

I hold to the fact that it's stupid to have this big thing for a comment. Sure, it made him look like an asshole but was I the only person who didn't think it had anything to do with the Stars as a whole?? I don't think it made THEM look classless, it makes HIM look classless and really, I've never thought of him as classy so it didn't change my feelings at all. I laughed at the stupidity and then gasped when I realized he's having to do a hearing just for running his mouth. Fine him, let Phaneuf beat on his head a little and get over it.

Besides, I'm not sure this is the worst thing he's ever said. Only NOW it's a problem to make a comment not relating to the game? Pssh.

Nadine said...

Sure, it made him look like an asshole but was I the only person who didn't think it had anything to do with the Stars as a whole??

Not at all, Tracy. I may doubt their wisdom in signing him, but I haven't questioned their reputation.

If the team feels that strongly about it, I think this is the path to follow:

1.) Whatever the NHL gives Avery, the team should stick him with more since - IMO - they should be the ones setting punishment anyway.

2.) Ignore his shite and move on with their lives. Refuse to discuss it. Do not dignify his actions with a response and, thus, feed the frenzy and his ego.

Cat said...

1.) Whatever the NHL gives Avery, the team should stick him with more since - IMO - they should be the ones setting punishment anyway.

THIS. GOD, THIS.

Nadine said...

Cat, how is it that we share a brain wave on this?

Kerri & Lucky13, would a spring non-partisan game still be a possibility? Or should we go for broke and attempt a divisional reunion?

Tracy, you crack me up.

Cat said...

I have no idea, dude! I'm glad there's someone else who shares a brain wave with me about this whole situation, though.

P.S. I'm totally making "Free Sean Avery" shirts tonight/tomorrow.

Kerri said...

I DO think this has to do with the Stars organization.

Modano and Turco never gave him the shot, which is completely their priority, I guess. But am I suppose to feel bad for them or something? For never giving Avery the chance, for being at the bottom of the WC?

Because I certainly don't. I'll say it again, two reasons Avery succeeded in New York 1) Jagr and Shanahan had him on a tight rope, and he respected them enough to follow and 2) the team stood up for each other. It was clearly understood that they supported one another.

That's not to say there should be blind agreeing with whatever a teammate does or says. But there needs to be a sense of respect there, which Avery never recieved from the second he walked into the locker room. Blame it on Hull, blame it on Avery, blame it on Modano, whatever, doesn't matter. At the end of the day, this team isn't acting like a team, and that's why they are where they are.

I still say the suspension is BS. I'm with Nadine... the NHL warned Avery? Ok, lets see the documentation. Fine guys for this stuff! Then you can point to the paperwork and say "Look, Avery, we fined you in July for this, and September for this, and now that you said this sloppy second comment, you get three games." Then this wouldn't be the running joke of the day, and the NHL would look... smart, dare I say it. It would be a fair suspension. It would be efficent, god forbid I use the word. Instead, it's a running joke; and believe it or not, the joke's not Avery, like it SHOULD be, for saying something so immature and stupid. Joke's on the NHL instead.

Kerri said...

Tracy... THANKS ALOT FOR AGREEING WITH ME FOR ONCE. Jeez, like I have these outrageous opinions or something... lol :-P

Nadine... I'm so up for that, except for that my schedule kinda sucks. But I'd be willing to see any game, I don't care who's playing. We could TRY to set up a Rags/Philly game (lol or do you get violent when you lost :-P) or whatever, it sounds like super fun! Hey, and if anyone wants to go the cheap way... ten dollar seats at Nassau, baby, to see those Fishsticks blow third period leads.

Cat... OH count me in with the t-shirt! Now I'll just have to purchase my "Avery Rules" tee and we'll be set. http://shop.cafepress.com/item/avery-rules-t-shirt/254845150?cmp=pfc--f--us--152--254845150&utm_source=froogle&utm_medium=productfeed&utm_term=254845150&utm_campaign=dark-t-shirt

OH and as a side note, I know NO ONE EVER cares, but my boy PRUCHA -squee- scored to tie the Rangers/Pens game with under six minutes left. First goal since Jan 31st... thus my excitement.

Sarah said...

I'm totally new here *waves* but have been reading along for a while. Can I jump in?

The only thing I don't like about the suspension is that Avery is getting even more attention. Here's the thing:

He purposely assembled the media to make a personal and disparaging comment about both a player and an ex, and he did it in a deliberately sexist way. If he had made some sly comment on the ice, no one would be making a fuss out of it. If he had referred to Cuthbert in even a remotely respectful way, no one would be making a fuss. He did neither of those things, and he must have known that the league would be paying attention in Calgary.

I think that the league is trying to say, particularly to fans, "Hockey is a physical game on ice, but players respect each other and their families off ice." I reiterate, if it had happened on the ice, a side comment from Avery to Phaneuf, and Phaneuf had drilled him, and no one other than the players had any idea what had happened, well that would just make Avery an ass, but everyone knows that already. If he had said something disparaging about Phaneuf, there's no way the league would have taken issue. But Avery's comment had nothing to do with hockey, nothing. It was entirely personal, and it was a slur at someone who has nothing to do with the league (regardless of what you think of Cuthbert, she's the innocent in this one), and the league needs to nip that in the bud.

The so-called indefinite suspension will probably end up only being a handful of games, although if the league decides to make an example out of him some say it could be as high as 10. And while I think 10 is excessive, I'd take 5 happily. Of course, I think the best course of action would have been for the Stars to suspend him before the league had to, but too late for that, and they certainly aren't coming to his aid now.

I love hockey, but there is no place for a guy like Avery in the game. I love that people are talking like this will be end of the his career; that's the best possible outcome as far as I'm concerned.

Tracy said...

I want a shirt also!

And Nadine -- <3

That's all. :)

Sherry said...

Here's my take on the whole thing: I'm willing to just accept that it's true the NHL and the Stars have warned Avery about his behaviour before. We don't have the right to know that they have documentation or demand that they provide proof for it. We're not owed that as fans and they took the actions they felt were necessary to protect their league.

I admit to being a bit of a prude at times and I definitely thought his statement lacked respect, was misogynistic and rude. That being said, it wasn't nerely as severe as some of the other issues the league should take a harder look at. But that's not really the issue here. Avery's been a loose cannon for awhile and dismissing it that just "being who he is" is not enough. If anything, it speaks to him having problems with his behaviour and attitude if he's that starved for attention he has to resort to this to get it. Why should everybody else have to suffer through being offended and disrespected just to humour him?

I think the Stars did a fine job with handling the situation and keep in mind that I don't like the Stars, even a little. If the League didn't suspend Avery, then the Stars should have. As much as I would have enjoyed seeing Phaneuf smearing Avery into the boards, there is precedent for this and I'm sure the league was nervous about this spinning out of control and it turning into another Moore-Bertuzzi type Circus.

A lot of terrible things get said on the ice but they stay on the ice and they are left between the two parties invovled. But Avery premeditated this, made sure the media was involved and dragged an innocent party into this business. That's not just an ex-girlfriend he's talking about, that's somebody's CURRENT girlfriend, somebody's daughter etc...etc.

I respectfully disagree that the league or the Stars is coming off holier-than-thou. Sean Avery is one of their employees and the employees are responsible with upholding the reputation of the company and I don't think the league wants the reputation of being full of misogynistic cads (regardless of what the reality might be :P).

Everybody has a breaking point, and the Stars don't have to just roll over and take it from him anymore. You can say his teammates were being bad teammates by not supporting him but I for one appreciate their honesty in admitting that he was having a negative impact in the dressing room. It's not their job to accomodate Avery and make sure he sits when he's told. It's AVERY'S job to come in and play hockey and be a positively contributing member of the team. He's been a pro long enough to know that. The Stars don't have problems as a team with one another-- only with Avery and that's very telling.

Sorry this was extremely long. To be clear, I never really had strong feelings about Avery either way. His blatant attempts at attention-grabbing caused me to roll my eyes but he was easy enough to ignore. But I think people have just had enough of him.

Kerri said...

Avery gets six games and therapy.

I love the HLOG discussion. Can we discuss other topics besides Avery sometime? lol

Sherry, but the Stars breaking point was the day Sean Avery signed his contract, which is why I feel the players have some fair share to blame. They walked in and never gave him a shot. Avery might be a crappy teammate, but that's a crappy attitude to start the season with, and IMO, unfair. Avery has a responsibility to the locker room, no doubt, but so does Modano, who spoke out about Avery from day one. That's no teammate. How do you succeed in that atmosphere? You don't.

It's amazing how this topic makes people a) want to suspend Avery from the league or b) want to make him a hero. Both are obviously over reactions, but I guess I don't understand what is making the words "sloppy second" so polarizing.

http://www.kuklaskorner.com/index.php/otf/comments/why_sean_avery_dropped_the_bomb/

^ I really liked that article, because I think there is more misconstrued information about this event. Why did Avery say what he did? Was it for his own personal glory? Or was it for his team?

He said it for his team. I understand the "Anti-Avery" stance is going to call me crazy, because he's not much of a teammate, and I understand that, but at the end of the day he says what he says to get other players off their game, and guess what? It's effective. Phaneuf would have been angry, and the Stars would have gotten a PP, if everything went Avery's way. Avery admitted it; he wanted to get excitement up for the game. He made Brodeur and Kovalchuk invisible during playoff series against the Rangers because of it.

That's what he brings and everyone knows it. Brett Hull made the wrong decision if his team wasn't going to accept that this is Avery's deal. And if the Stars DO buy out Avery, it has nothing to do with this controversial statement and everything to do with their own locker room issues they forgot to work out before the season started.

Just a note, NHL: Adam Foote still hasn't played a game since John Zieler knocked him into the boards from behind. Zieler got three games.

Sherry said...

Sherry, but the Stars breaking point was the day Sean Avery signed his contract, which is why I feel the players have some fair share to blame. They walked in and never gave him a shot. Avery might be a crappy teammate, but that's a crappy attitude to start the season with, and IMO, unfair.

That might be true and you're right, it's an unfair attitude to have but thems the breaks sometimes. Why would Avery not have the good sense NOT to exacerbate the situation then? He must have known that a statement like that wouldn't have won him any friends. Unless, of course the situation was just so toxic that he thought this was his only way to get out of it, then that doesn't make him any less dumb and he's getting what he wants out of it anyways.

Not every teammate has to be best buddies or get along all the time. It's unfortunate that Avery was never given a chance but he didn't handle it the way he should have either. He should have continued playing hockey and sure, chrip the players while on the ice if you want but leave everybody else out of it. The sticking point for me would be unless the Stars organization encouraged him to continue being a pain in the ass and try to create as much controversy as possible. Signing him to a long-term contract did not automatically give him the right to do that. Even if the team isn't blameless for the poor atmosphere in the dressing room, as far as this individual situation is concerned, Avery is solely responsible for the trouble he's in.

I understand that, but at the end of the day he says what he says to get other players off their game, and guess what? It's effective.
Yes, but the main difference was that he's never dragged the press and the public into this before. Whatever he's said or done to players to get them off their game was before left exclusively on the ice and it was a private exchange between two parties and at the end of the day, they both could deal with it then and there and then walk away from it. Maybe this is a cultural issue that the NHL needs to address amongst its players, but realistically speaking, how possible is that?

Brett Hull made the wrong decision if his team wasn't going to accept that this is Avery's deal.

I don't think Hull or the Stars organization was trying to deny that they made the wrong decision. In fact, I think by them not supporting him in all of this, that's exactly what they're admitting. It was a mistake bringing Avery in and before they had done that, (not that it necessarily mean they didn't exist, I wouldn't know) I hadn't heard about any previous locker room issues.

I don't think the team underperforming has anything to do with him being a distraction in the dressing room, I don't think the two have any connection but it's still an issue that needs to be nipped in the bud. Just like how Emery wasn't the reason why Ottawa was doing so terribly, it's still not something you want to persist no matter what. It sends the wrong message to the rest of the team and it gives your organization a poor reputation.

And personally, if somebody called me a 'sloppy second' I'd just be thankful that I had the good sense to end it in the first place and be done with it but I can see how the term is demeaning and misogynistic.

Kerri said...

Even if the team isn't blameless for the poor atmosphere in the dressing room, as far as this individual situation is concerned, Avery is solely responsible for the trouble he's in.

I agree 100%. Avery is the sole party responsible for this situtation. My point just is that Avery is a scapgoat for the Stars internal issues, and that, IMO, is not Avery's fault. And this is the reason Avery won't... well, didn't, I guess... succeed in Dallas.

Yes, but the main difference was that he's never dragged the press and the public into this before. Whatever he's said or done to players to get them off their game was before left exclusively on the ice and it was a private exchange between two parties and at the end of the day, they both could deal with it then and there and then walk away from it.

This isn't true, though. Avery called Stephen Valiquette a "minor leaguer" to the press earlier this season. Last year, he called Brodeur "fatso" and "a whiner." Said he couldn't respect him, and that he had no class. He constantly talks to the media.

If the point is the NHL are sick of those comments to the public and to the media, and that's why this comment blew up out of proportion, then I agree that a suspension and/or fine at least is in order. But this shouldn't be a shock to ANYONE that Avery said something to the cameras... because he has used the media as a tool several times before.

Brett Hull knew this. Gary Bettman knew this. If they didn't want it to happen, they could have fined him for his public mouth before they jumped to a six game suspension. And considering the amount of money I spend on hockey tickets, yeah, I have the right to know who your suspending and why. Is this a sport for the fans, or simply for Mr. Commish?

I don't think the team underperforming has anything to do with him being a distraction in the dressing room, I don't think the two have any connection but it's still an issue that needs to be nipped in the bud.

But the Stars have used him as a scapegoat, no? He's the easy excuse. Turco called him out, but that's not helping Turco stop the pucks that seem to be drawn into his net like a magnet. The buyout of Sean Avery, if that will be the end of this saga, will have little to do with this individual quote.

Basically, my point would be that while it was a stupid, mean, and immature thing to say, the one comment is not such a big deal. The big deal is that, theoretically, the league has asked him to stop before, and he obviously didn't listen.

But that's not how it comes across, to hockey fans and non-fans alike. And those non-fans are thinking this is completely crazy. This isn't the first horrific thing to be said by a sports star. And it isn't even that horrific. If there was a history here, it would make sense.

Instead, we have a history of the league changing rules mid-playoff series (Yeah, and I'd think that whether it was Avery or the Rangers or not) because they didn't like how he screened a goalie. Suspension-worthy? No. And he hasn't done it again, has he? We have instances of altercations with fans, which should never be tolerated, but again, no suspension or fine, as far as I'm aware.

And we have a history of a mouth. And that mouth is apparently a crime much worse than boarding or elbowing calls.

And personally, if somebody called me a 'sloppy second' I'd just be thankful that I had the good sense to end it in the first place and be done with it.

Amen to that, sister.

And sorry for the length.