Thursday, December 04, 2008

The Sean Avery File

We really wanted to skip this latest Avery affair. But, our Sean Avery file needs updating.

First, the controversy. On December 3, 2008, Avery was suspended indefinitely by the NHL for making disparaging remarks about a former girlfriend to the media. Avery made the remarks after a morning skate in Calgary, Alberta. Avery stated,

"I'm really happy to be back in Calgary; I love Canada. I just want to comment on how it's become like a common thing in the NHL for guys to fall in love with my sloppy seconds. I don't know what that's about, but enjoy the game tonight."
Avery was suspended by the NHL within hours of his comments. He watched from the pressbox as the Stars beat the Flames, 3-1, on Tuesday night (Dec 2nd).

On December 3rd, 2008 Avery flew to New York with Stars co-general manager Brett Hull to meet with Commissioner Gary Bettman. Avery also issued a public apology for his crude comments.
I would like to sincerely apologize for my off-color remarks to the press yesterday from Calgary. I should not have made those comments and I recognize that they were inappropriate.

It was a bad attempt to build excitement for the game, but I am now acutely aware of how hurtful my actions were. I caused unnecessary embarrassment to my peers as well as people I have been close with in the past.

I apologize for offending the great fans of the NHL, the commissioner, my teammates, my coaching staff and the Dallas Stars management and ownership. As many of you know, I like to mix it up on and off the ice from time to time, but understand that this time I took it too far.
On December 4th Avery's meeting with the NHL lasted a couple of hours and concluded without a decision being made. reported:
Sean Avery arrived at the National Hockey League offices in midtown Manhattan at 10:50 this morning wearing a checkered gray suit with no tie and a pair of dark sunglasses.

Avery's hearing regarding his indefinite suspension after remarks he made Tuesday in Calgary about an ex-girlfriend's new relationship with an NHL player began at noon today inside the NHL's main offices.

The meeting ended at 1:25 p.m., but no statement has yet to be released...

Hull also said Avery expressed remorse in his face-to-face meeting with Bettman...
Update, on December 5th, 2006 the NHL announced their punishment for Avery's remarks:
The verdict is in, and Dallas Stars forward Sean Avery will be sitting out a little while longer for the inappropriate comments he made earlier this week.

The National Hockey League announced Friday morning that Avery has been suspended for six games without pay, retroactive to Tuesday's game in Calgary, as a result of the comments he made Tuesday morning after the his team’s morning skate at the Pengrowth Saddledome.

Avery also agreed to seek professional anger-management evaluation and, if necessary, structured counseling in light of his pattern of behavior, which the NHL has deemed unacceptable and antisocial...
One of Sean Avery's former girlfriends is Elisha Cuthbert. Cuthbert is best known for her role as Kim Bauer the daughter of Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) in the Fox television series 24.

Cuthbert is currently dating Calgary Flames defenseman Dion Phaneuf. After breaking up with Avery, Ms. Cuthbert also dated West Islip born Canadien Mike Komisarek. Avery's remarks were generally considered to be in reference to Ms. Cuthbert and Mr. Phaneuf.

During the 2006-07 season Ms. Cuthbert wrote a blog for On that blog she wrote:
My name is Elisha Cuthbert, born in Calgary, Alberta, but raised in Montreal, Quebec. Growing up in Canada opened my eyes to the world of hockey. My brother plays on two teams -- his school and city. My mother plays on a team as well. I, on the other hand, am just an actress who loves the sport and does not play -- but that doesn't mean I can't talk about it!
Sean Avery and actress Elisha Cuthbert, who he trashed with sloppy seconds commentSean Avery and actress Elisha Cuthbert. She ditched Justin Timberlake’s best friend Trace Ayala for Avery - US Magazine
Sean Avery and Elisha Cuthbert---
Sean Avery and actress girlfriend Elisha Cuthbert Photos of Sean Avery and Elisha Cuthbert

The Sean Avery Timeline:

Some reactions to Sean Avery's latest controversy:

Greg Wyshynski / ESPN Puck Daddy:
Predictions: How long will the NHL suspend Sean Avery?
It's official: The reaction to Sean Avery's "sloppy seconds" press conference and subsequent suspension are more comical and absurd than anything the man actually said.

Have any of these pearls-clutching hockey puritans sat between the penalty boxes of an NHL game, where the young children of wealthy season ticket holders can hear taunts about what one player's mother did or did not swallow (true story)? Have they ever laughed at well-told tales of junior hockey hazing or sexual exploits that leaves you wondering if young players will grow up to be in the NHL or a state penitentiary?

Or we going to actually believe that the NHL's image has somehow been irrevocably damaged because of Sean Avery's choice of words? On a Chris Simon or Todd Bertuzzi level?
Greg Wyshynski / ESPN Puck Daddy:
Sean Avery, indefinite suspensions and NHL gullibility --
The League suspending Avery for opening his yap and making a frat boy joke elevates his antics back to legendary status. This is the Avery Rule all over again; Avery looks irresponsible but mischievous, and the League looks like it's making special considerations because the class clown acted up. Give him 10 games, give him 30; he wins again...
Jim Litke /AP- USAToday:
'Most hated man in hockey' takes it up a notch --
Bad taste isn't a capital offense, but Bettman decided within hours it was one worthy of an indefinite suspension, citing Article 6 of the NHL constitution, which covers conduct "detrimental to the league or game of hockey."
Larry Brooks / NY Post:
NHL Sloppy Handling of Avery --
As of tonight, Sean Avery will have been suspended for as many games (two) for yesterday's on-camera vulgar reference in Calgary to the Dion Phaneuf-Elisha Cuthbert relationship as Randy Jones was last season for his late October hit from behind that concussed Patrice Bergeron and forced the Boston center to miss the remainder of the season.

It's good to see that the NHL has kept everything in perspective here, isn't it? ...
Evanka Osmak / SportsNet Canada:
Sloppy suspensions --
Sean Avery has said, and done, a lot of idiotic, immature things over the years with Tuesday's comments in Calgary being no exception, but getting suspended for referring to his ex-girlfriends as sloppy seconds, are you kidding me? Since when did the NHL discipline players for gossiping?
Jim Kelley / SportsNet Canada:
Gone in 32 seconds --
Sean Avery has set back the image of the NHL and even relations between pro athletes and women to a point that it will take years to undo the damage...
Damien Cox / ESPN:
What message should we take from NHL's suspension of words? --
The NHL has tried before to silence inappropriate chatter, particularly use of racial slurs on the ice. But anybody who knows the game and knows players understands that Avery's choice of words was relatively benign compared with much of what gets said between NHL players.

So it wasn't what was said. It was how it was said, and the setting it was said in.

This gets more complicated by the minute.
Scott Burnside / ESPN:
Isolated incident? No, Avery's career has been defined by indiscretions --
In one swift moment, Sean Avery has moved seamlessly from mildly entertaining village idiot to something darker and more pathetic.

After waiting for reporters to gather around him in Calgary following his team's morning skate Tuesday, after ensuring Canada's national sports network cameras were rolling, the Dallas Stars forward launched into a rehearsed, crude statement referencing former girlfriend, actress Elisha Cuthbert, and her current beau, Calgary defenseman Dion Phaneuf...
Tracey Myers / Dallas Star Telegram - Five for Fighting blog:
More than words --
This situation with Avery had become like a volcano. The pressure had been building... just needed someething to trigger the eruption. Enter dumb quote here.

So what next? Ship him to the minors? Buy him out? The Stars have certainly done that before. It's going to cost the Stars no matter which way they go. I'm thinking they really don't care...
Andrew's Dallas Stars
The Red Wings chime in on Avery -- The Detroit Red Wings visited kids at a hospital Wednesday. They talked about Sean Avery too. Details from the Detroit News.
Many Red Wings players had heard, or heard about, the lewd comments former teammate Sean Avery made Tuesday.

The Wings supported commissioner Gary Bettman ‘s decision to indefinitely suspend Avery, now with the Dallas Stars.

“There’s no room for that in hockey,” said Chris Osgood about Avery’s comments about current players dating Avery’s former girlfriends. “Guys say stuff on the ice, but guys who are veteran guys and have respect for the game, it belongs nowhere in sports. It has nothing to do with the game. More or less, it’s an attention getter.”

It’s unfortunate, said Osgood, if kids, especially boys, heard Avery’s comments...
Mike Heika / Dallas Morning News:
Avery is not the Dallas Stars' only problem --
If the Dallas Stars find a way to get rid of Sean Avery – and it appears that’s their plan – it will not solve all of the problems of this season.

Dave Tippett said as much Wednesday when asked what has gone wrong with his team.
Jacquielynn Floyd / Dallas Morning News:
If you are appalled by Sean Avery's comment, you're not alone --
Before you write off my grossed-out revulsion for Sean Avery as girly squeamishness, consider that I’ve got a lot of company.

Mr. Avery’s own colleagues are clearly appalled at his purposefully ugly, deliberately public remarks.

“It’s unacceptable,” said star forward Mike Modano.

“It’s a slap in the face,” said netminder Marty Turco.

“I personally hope this costs him,” said on-air announcer Ralph Strangis.
Avery's 'press conference'/interview that crossed the line:


The Sean Avery File will be re-named the nitwit file. Keep the trash talk on the ice Sean.

Avery suspended indefinitely for comments related to ex-girlfriends
Stars LW Avery issues apology for televised comments about ex-girlfriends

NY Times:
Avery Punished for Vulgar Remark

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  • Anonymous said...

    My bad for supporting Avery. Eating humble pie...well, it looked like he ate tons of it, his $1000 pants probably don't even fit now. But, it did look like a calculated move on his part talking to the press.
    So, I guess he blew it leaving New York. Talking on ice results, he wasn't half bad, not many places for him to fit now. I still have not heard anything concrete about his effect on NYR's lockerroom last year. Even if I did hear he pissed someone or other off, I would consider it more than a fair trade. But that's all in the past.

    Rangers looked really good tonight. All their socks matched, jerseys with the numbers on the back where they should be. Gomez had just the right amount of stubble for that 'rugged' look, I noticed when the camera panned in for his reaction after his silly penalty (I mean his second one, not the first one which was much less dumb), he just might have one of those 'leave a half-inch of stubble so you look like Sonny Crockett' razors they sold on late-night infomercials in the '80's (or so I am told).

    And the coaching staff looked absolutely dashing... Renney quite dignified but with a certain rakishness. And Pearn, absolutely natty, forgive me if I go so far as to say debonair.

    Really, really good looking team.

  • jb said...

    That's a great assessment of the team. They looked 'marvelous', but their play stunk the joint up against Montreal.

    Where was that physical game they showed against the Pens? Orr set the tone early in that game and then Renney puts him on the ice for less than 2 minutes in the 1st period. That's how you reward hard hitting play?

    They needed to slow down that team and they did nothing.

    This team needs to stop worrying about the photo shoots and learn how to shoot the puck on the net.

  • Anonymous said...

    big deal - lots of guys talk like that - why not punish the reporter if its so bad - - the other night leno talked about spooning leading to forking .. take a pill nutbar reporters -

  • jb said...

    I think 'political correctness' has taken over our society. If you are any person in the public eye like Avery, Imus, etc. and you say something off-color. There will be a pack of PC police who will land on you.

    Guys have to learn that they can talk all the trash they want on the ice, because that's still a free-speech zone. But give these PC hypocrites an opening or a YouTube moment and they'll toast you.

    It's interesting to consider if Avery had been sitting with Jay Leno and was joking around with him and made this comment if he would have still received the six-game suspension. Perhaps not.

    Imus was sitting around joking about the Rutgers basketball team with his radio crew and it cost him his job.

  • Anonymous said...

    Good points JB. I guess subjectivity rules. The NHL chooses what to enforce on an ad-hoc basis.
    They have no desire whatsoever to really punish the perpetrators causing personal injury on ice, ala Chris Pronger's blatant dirty hits over how many years. There are other repeat offenders; just that he stands out in this regard.

    Avery has a personality trait (fault, call it what you will) that causes him to say things others mostly do not approve of. It's okay to not approve, as probably none of us would really want to hear this type of talk all the time, but to see the NHL render moral judgment is a big laugh.

    The NHL should get their house in order.

  • jb said...

    The NHL is show business like the radio network Imus worked for, and it looks like the "ad-hoc basis" rules the roost.

    I think Bettman would say he considers these things on a 'case-by-case' basis. So all his decisions are based on the persons involved and the perceived heat the league is feeling, and what will make him look good.

    It's like going before the royal highness, however he's feeling determines your fate.

    The NHLPA should fight this and demand that a standard regarding boundaries for player comments be set. Deciding punishment on a 'Case-by-case' basis is the rule of royalty not the rule of law.

    Crosby wouldn't have gotten 6 games if he said some off-color.

    It's a case of Avery being Avery and Bettman being Bettman.

  • Anonymous said...

    Exactly. Thank you for distilling that for me. To paraphrase, Bettman and the league will react in accordance to "the perceived heat the league is feeling"

    Very true.

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