Friends, if you only read one thing today, read Michael Farber on Sean Avery. This is the type of work we hunger for and should demand more of. For every time we hear “there must be more to the story” there should be an article like this. Brilliant work Michael!
Here is the gist and some highlights:
Avery is a team killer. A train wreck. In complete opposition to what his dad, the NHLPA and other supporters have tried to say before, he is not just a good boy… Farber, at the end of the 3 page must read comes to the realization that someone will one day take a flier on Avery….
” Avery was guilty of hockey’s deadliest sin: being a lousy teammate. There can be room for personal agendas in other sports—think Terrell Owens with the Cowboys—but hockey takes a dim view of square pegs in their perfectly rounded holes. The ethos is different. Unlike baseball clubhouses, where players sit facing their stalls, or football locker rooms, where players are segregated by position, a hockey dressing room is designed so all players face toward the center, gazing at one another. Avery did not look at his teammates in Dallas. Between periods he would often sit by himself in the hallway, headphones on, a citizen of Planet Sean. When Avery was in the dressing room, according to Stars veteran Mike Modano, he was often on his phone, discussing a potential book deal or his movie project, a romantic comedy based on the life of the only NHL player to spend his summer as an intern at Vogue.”
“Avery wore shorts with his sport coats to preseason games because, Modano said, “he didn’t feel he could express himself if he dressed the same as everybody [else]…. He just seemed unwilling to do what we were all asked to do, on and off the ice. He wanted to march to his own beat.” Avery was the iconoclast clown, throwing spitballs at hockey’s ways.”
To quote LT, “OMG” (oh my god)
“After he signed, I told him that now that he’d gotten the big contract, he could take it down a notch and just go out and play hockey,” said Red Wings forward Kris Draper, Avery’s friend and former teammate. “Unfortunately that’s not what happened.”
We all know it hurts the most when friends go on the record with stuff like this….
“POLL YOUR average American, suggests an NHL veteran, and Avery will draw higher name recognition than any active player aside from Sidney Crosby. Avery, who declined to be interviewed for this story, retains the services of a Hollywood public relations firm, the only active NHL player known to have a nonsports publicist. For him this is a reasonable investment. According to a former teammate, Avery was at a house party in New York City last summer when an actress from a popular television show started chatting him up. She said she didn’t know much about hockey, but she was mightily impressed that the NHL had made a rule just for him.”
It’s true but soooo sad. The guy is better known the Alexander Ovechkin.
“Dave Siciliano, his coach in Owen Sound, had his own Avery Rule, which he refers to as the 80/20: Siciliano devoted 80% of his time to Avery, while the other 20% went to the rest of the team. “You seemed to be dealing with something every day,” says Siciliano. “He had an overzealousness and a lack of discipline that would cause rifts on the ice, at practice, on bus trips.” On one trip Curtis Sanford, now a Canucks goalie, heard a scuffle at the back of the bus and wheeled in time to see captain Dan Snyder, upset by an Avery comment, being pulled off his mouthy teammate. Siciliano wanted to dump Avery, but Owen Sound G.M. Ray McKelvie recalls, “A lot of people had already gotten the idea that he wasn’t a team player. It was hard to make a deal that made sense for us, until one night in Kingston he had three [goals] and three [assists]. A couple of days later [Kingston G.M. Larry Mavety] and I had a deal. Sean could get people riled up, but he was an excellent player.”
Sounds just like the guy you want on your team….Me thinks LT was right on this one….
“after being traded in March 2003 to the Kings, a team less secure in its identity, Avery ran amok, by hockey’s standards. Even with a serendipitous do-over—he was kicked off the team with three games left in 2005–06 for refusing to participate in a drill and arguing with assistant coach Mark Hardy at practice but was allowed back after ownership replaced G.M. Dave Taylor with Lombardi that summer—he continued to roil teammates as much as opponents. He cruelly ridiculed the speech of left wing Dustin Brown, who has a slight lisp. “He was really hard on Brown, a quiet guy who just shut down,” says Conroy, now with Calgary. “He didn’t come out of his shell until Sean was gone.”
He’s just a nice guy eh Glen???? Did the PA offer to step in and assist Brown with this issue????
“There were dressing-room fisticuffs. Thornton and Avery had a “play fight” in Edmonton in late December 2006—it started when Avery hit Thornton with an exercise ball—and Thornton wound up breaking his wrist and missing 23 games. Lombardi, who after succeeding Taylor had announced that Avery was on “double secret probation,” traded him to New York five weeks after the Thornton incident, but not before warning Rangers president Glen Sather that “you’ll have him in your office once a week.”
Double Secret Probation??? That can only mean one thing TOGA PARTY!
“”Brett Hull criticized us when we traded Sean, saying our team was bad for Sean and bad for the game,” Lombardi recalls. “Freedom of expression. How does [Hull, the Stars’ co-G.M. with Jackson,] like it today? They spent $15.5 million to protect the right of free speech. Adams and Jefferson would be proud.”
OUCH!!!! Seriously, can this be made into a tv show or a movie????
“I think the persona Sean took on”—the Vogue-interning, starlet-dating, crossover celebrity who feigned indifference to the game—”became more powerful than the real Sean,” Hull says. “You know the Green Goblin in the Spider-Man movie? Like that. It just overtook him. He decided to be Evil Sean.”
“We spend time psychoanalyzing Sean,” Lombardi muses. “Maybe we should be doing it to ourselves.”
Does anyone else get the impression that maybe, just maybe Lombardi is a tad bitter towards mister Avery or feeling a lot bit vilified?
Then, Farber ends with the conclusion that I and many others have drawn….
“Sometime, somewhere, there will be a comeback. Avery will do the requisite scraping and bowing because, as Calgary’s Michael Cammalleri, Avery’s friend and former Kings teammate, says, “Without hockey Sean would just be some guy doing some crazy stuff.” An e-mail message to SI from Nicole Chabot, Avery’s publicist, late last month read, in part, “We at this point are just trying to weather the storm as best we can. The comeback story will be amazing, but we are a ways away with all the details still to be sorted out.” Oprah, schedule some couch time.”
Pass this article along folks, when you read a Toronto daily today, remember it. This is sports journalism as we should demand. Thank you Michael.