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An Ode to Sean Avery [Video]

On Friday, Sean Avery was officially waived by the New York Rangers for the second time this season.  While not a move that will have a dramatic impact on the 2011-2012 New York Rangers, it is one that I accept with a heavy heart.  The very personification of the hockey pest, I’ll miss Sean Avery.

Sean Avery
Al Bello, Getty Images

You can use a lot of words to describe Sean Avery, and not many are complimentary.  Cheap.  Loud-mouth.  Pest.  Jerk.  Annoying.  Dirty.  Ect. Ect. Ect.  But you know what else you have to say about Avery?  Tough.  Physical. Hard working.  Despite all of the bad-boy minutia, I’ve always respected the fact that every time he stepped out onto the ice, Sean Avery played tough, played physical, worked hard, and protected his teammates.  It’s what has kept me a huge fan of Avery’s, even through all of his issues.

Such an adoration with Avery never really rubbed off on Ranger coach John Tortorella, however.  In fact, in a dose of brutal honesty that you never really see in professional sports, Tortorella opened the Ranger season by telling reporters that he didn’t want Sean Avery, saying “I think we have better players than Sean Avery.  Plain and simple.”  So it was no surprise that even after Avery was called up from Hartford – where he started the season – he rarely made the Rangers’ line up.  He was a healthy scratch in nine straight games.  NINE GAMES!  The bottom line is with the impending return of Wojtek Wolksi, and the emergence of players like Carl Hagelin, Avery just isn’t needed anymore.  So in all honesty, his departure from the club will make little impact on the actual team – casual fans won’t miss Sean Avery’s game.

But I will.  Why?  Well, there’s a lot of possible reasons.  I could sit here and talk about how Avery plays that intense, tough, all-effort, rugged type of game that has become the personality of this Ranger team.  I could talk about how the only real weakness of this Ranger squad, that they seem to have periods of mental lapses where they just stop playing, is something that Sean Avery never has to worry about – Dude works his ass off on every shift.  I could talk about how Avery is an above average forechecker – which is what the Rangers use to get their game going – or that he’s a very good defensive forward.  Or I could talk about how that extra bit of edge and toughness that the Rangers seem to need at times could be provided by this guy, who has a vast surplus of it.  But I think I’ll just go the easier route and say that the dude was incredibly fun to watch.

Yeah, he was a pest.  But he was our pest.  I’m sure he was annoying as hell to watch skate against your team.  But he wasn’t skating against my team, so I didn’t so much mind that he was annoying.  I didn’t so much mind that he took every opportunity to get under the skin of every opposing player, that his play sometimes bordered on dirty.  Sometimes you need a guy like that.  And when you don’t, he’s still pretty damn fun to watch.  Included below is one of my favorite moments in the history of hockey.  Sean Avery invents a new way of screening the goalie, gets Martin Brodeur to lose his cool, and caps it all off with a goal on the shift.  Illegal?  Possibly.  Cheap?  Maybe.  Hilarious?  Yes.  Effective?  Absolutely.  The perfect metaphor for the game of Sean Avery – the epitome of the hockey pest.

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