Dear New York Rangers fans,
What is with your nauseating obsession with Sean Avery? We get it. You are New Yorkers. You are all very tough and intimidating. Understandably, you want to see those same characteristics in players wearing blue sweaters. I get that. But there is a difference between being fighter and being a jerk.
That is what Sean Avery is, a jerk. Yes, he is an enforcer. No, he isn’t supposed to be Ghandi on skates. Sean Avery has made a name in the NHL for his agitator/aggressor style of play. Take a run at Marian Gaborik, check your rearview mirror for Avery. He is bruiser.
But why, at every home game this season, have you chanted his name? Why do you want him back? He is a sideshow, a clown.
He shoves people, which is generally frowned upon when the person being pushed is not on the ice and is a police officer.
His offensive strategy is to wave a stick in front of the crease, trying to distract the goalie.
Is he entertaining? Maybe. Embarrassing? Definitely maybe.
You may be asking, “Ryan, why are you so worked up?”
First, I can’t get my townhouse bracelet off. But more to the point, I’m angry because Sean Avery symbolizes what is wrong with my favorite sport. Three former enforcers died this past summer. Two were confirmed suicides. Naturally, the role of these former players and the cause of death were immediately linked.
I like fighting in the game of hockey. I think it serves a purpose. A good bout between known scrappers can swing momentum from one team to another like a pendulum. When people think about violence in hockey, they associate the act with the Matt Cooke elbows to the head and Todd Bertuzzi sucker punches.
And then Avery comes to mind. A hockey player shouldn’t want to fight. It is something they do for the team. Players don’t want to block shots, but they do it.
Boston Bruins Winger Milan Lucic used to be a checking line regular. Then he scored 30 goals. Now he doesn’t drop his gloves until he reaches the Bruins locker room.
Avery needs to fight.
I like the Rangers. They are struggling right now. With the free agent signing of Brad Richards, and most core contributors returning, there were high expectations.
But a roster move like this is such an impulse response to the bleacher creatures.
The season can be turned around by a simple line adjustment. Heck, I am pretty sure the Rangers have already played 90 percent of their away games. No one has shut out more teams than goalie Henrik Lundqvist.
But what is the worst part about this whole saga? Sean Avery is not a bad hockey player. Twice in his career he has scored 10 or more goals per season. He has been even or in the plus on the ice seven times.
Nevertheless, the antics continue. And now he is being brought back for a third tour of duty.
All I can say, is it’s difficult to win a game with players who don’t respect it.
Ryan Matlack can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org