Let me start off my saying that I am no fan of Sean Avery, and I am actually counting down the days until his antics are no longer plaguing this team, but what happened to him last night in a preseason game against the New Jersey Devils shows why the league and their referees are members of the Mickey Mouse Party.
We all know Avery’s game– getting under the skin of the opponent and causing them to take penalties and get agitated, throwing them off their game. Avery did this to perfection last night, with two of his favorite targets, David Clarkson and Ilya Kovalchuk. However, the obvious league bias prevented the situation from working to the Rangers favor.
Avery met with Clarkson, who in turn dropped his gloves wanting to fight him, but just like a game last season, Avery did not drop his, and Clarkson was left standing bewildered yet again. Then as Avery was heading to the penalty box, he crossed paths with Ilya Kovalchuk, who dropped his gloves as well. Avery would then drop his and attempt to fight the superstar, but the referees jumped in, and so did David Clarkson.
Kovalchuk landed punches, and Clarkson tried desperately to get to Avery while the referee held him down. When the altercation was over, Avery had not landed a single punch, but received the most penalty minutes out of the trio, with a double minor for roughing and a ten minute misconduct. Kovalchuk would get only two minutes, despite being the first to drop his gloves, and Clarkson got absolutely nothing. A third-man-in offense is always a game misconduct, no questions asked, but he got away Scott-free.
But we are all used to this kind of treatment, and incensing as it may be, it could not come as a shock to anyone– what happened next would.
Following the game, Avery told reporters in the locker-room that the reason why he was given the misconduct was because the referee told him, “He’s a superstar and I can’t go after a superstar.” Now, many would not take Avery’s word on this, but why would he put himself in an even worse situation by lying? Considering what happened, I fully believe him, because we all know he is a marked man who has had a target on his back for the majority of his career in the NHL.
By saying that, the referee is admitting that certain players are above the law; that even if a certain superstar is the one that initiates a fight, if you are not of superstar caliber, you cannot fight him or attempt to. This incident should be investigated by the NHL, but I highly doubt it will even get so much as a sniff.
Sean Avery’s career with the Rangers has been nothing but a whirlwind of emotion. When he first came to the team during the 2006/07 season, he was a godsend. He invigorated a dull Rangers team with his agitation of opponents, aggressive style of play, and even goal scoring ability, as he recorded 20 points in 28 games. His next season was even better, when he netted 15 goals and 18 assists and also 154 penalty minutes.
When Avery left for Dallas the season after, and got into trouble for his infamous locker-room comments, it was all downhill from there. The league was waiting years for him to do something they could nail him for, and they did. Although allowing him back in the league, they would make sure that he would be all but welcome. For two seasons now, the Rangers have put up with a league bias against them, and this has even carried over into a meaningless preseason game.
So my question is, is it worth it? Is it worth keeping a marked man on the team and dealing with a brutally obvious league bias all for the thirty seconds of entertainment he gives us every time he plays the Devils?
Avery does not play “his game” every night, but when he does it is effective. However, that effectiveness has slipped to detrimental for the New York Rangers and now if he plays his game he will be targeted and penalized. It is a lose-lose situation for both he and the team, because if he doesn’t play his game, he is all but useless and what he brings to the table can be mimicked by any forward in Hartford.
This is a tricky situation for the Rangers– there is not a team in the NHL who would trade for him, and they do not want to ruin the locker-room of their AHL affiliate Hartford Wolfpack. But they may have to take that chance, and place him on an AHL-bound line where he can play out the rest of his contract.
Sean Avery used to be an advantage to the Rangers and it was a joy to see him play, but times have changed and now Avery’s mere presence will result in more harm that good. The Rangers already rid themselves of one detriment in Wade Redden, and now it is time for another.