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Stars That Died

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Who is Sean Avery?

Who isSean Christopher Avery? The sporting world knows him as a Canadian professional ice hockey player. He formerly played for the National Hockey League's Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings, Dallas Stars and New York Rangers. Prior to the NHL, Avery played for the Owen Sound Platers and the Kingston Frontenacs of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). He has accumulated 90 goals and over 1,500 penalty minutes in 580 career NHL games.
Avery was born April 10, 1980, he is well known for his agitating playing style and controversial behavior both on and off the ice.

Detroit Red Wings (1999–2003)

Avery was not drafted but instead signed by the Red Wings as a free agent in 1999. He played one final season in junior before turning professional in 2000 in the American Hockey League (AHL). He broke into the NHL in the 2001–02 season, playing 36 games with the Red Wings, and 36 games in the minors. The Red Wings went on to win the Stanley Cup that season, but Avery did not play in the playoffs nor did he play the required 41 games to get his name engraved on the Cup.
Midway through the 2002–03 season, Avery was traded to the Los Angeles Kings in the trade for defenseman Mathieu Schneider. Avery finished the season with 15 points in 51 games. In 2008, Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said that one reason he unloaded Avery was because he seemed to lack respect for the game.[1]

Los Angeles Kings (2003–2007)

In 2003–04 Avery played 76 games for the Kings, scoring nine goals and 19 assists. Avery also led the NHL in penalty minutes with 261. His tenure with the Kings was marked by a number of publicized controversial utterances.
Avery played in the Finnish SM-liiga for Pelicans. In 2 games he scored 3 goals, but then left Finland unexpectedly and returned to North America. He then played in the UHL alongside Chris Chelios, Bryan Smolinski and Derian Hatcher for the Motor City Mechanics. He tallied 26 points in 16 games, 15 goals and 11 assists. Those 15 goals included two hat tricks, making Avery the first player in Mechanics history to record two hat tricks in one season. He also had 149 penalty minutes. Avery made news during the lockout, when he was quoted as saying that the management of the National Hockey League Players Association lied to its members about the lockout.[2] During the lockout, Avery lived for three weeks with former teammate Chris Chelios, until Chelios' patience wore thin. "He turned my house upside down", Chelios said.[3]
Denis Gauthier of the Phoenix Coyotes body checked Kings forward Jeremy Roenick in a 2005 preseason game, giving Roenick a concussion. Avery's response was "I think it was typical of most French guys in our league with a visor on, running around and playing tough and not back anything up," generating much controversy with the French-Canadian public.[4] Avery was fined $1,000 by the NHL on November 15, 2005, for intentionally diving during a game, then was fined $1,000 more a day later after publicly criticizing the NHL's director of hockey operations, Colin Campbell.[5]
Avery and Anaheim Mighty Ducks broadcaster and former Montreal Canadiens goaltender Brian Hayward had a heated discussion in the Kings dressing room on April 7, 2006, over Hayward's on air comments during the April 4 Kings vs Ducks game, in which he accused Avery of avoiding a fight with Ducks' forward Todd Fedoruk. Avery began the argument by uttering that Hayward was an "embarrassment", a "(terrible) announcer", and was a "(terrible) player". Hayward responded by saying "How would you know? When I played, you were in your third year of eighth grade."[6] Near the end of the season, the Kings decided to suspend Avery, stating that he would not be with the team for the remainder of the year. A source claimed Avery had an argument with assistant coach Mark Hardy after refusing to participate in a practice drill.[7]
On July 24, 2006, the Los Angeles Kings signed Avery to a $1.1 million, one-year contract. Avery was a restricted free agent, so the Kings avoided going into salary arbitration by signing him to a deal.[8]

Relationship with Teammates

Avery mocked and bullied Kings' teammate Dustin Brown, a teenager at the time, on several occasions including poking fun at Brown's lifelong lisp and insinuating that Brown's then girlfriend, and now current wife, was not glamorous enough to be the girlfriend of a hockey player in Hollywood.[9][10] While light-hearted ribbing and razzing is commonplace in NHL locker rooms, former Kings' teammate Ian Laperriere told Sports Illustrated in April 2012 that the bullying was something "like you might see in high school."[11]

New York Rangers (2007–2008)

On February 5, 2007, Avery was traded by the Kings to the New York Rangers in a multi-player deal.[12] After Avery joined the Rangers, he scored 20 points in 29 games to help the team complete a 17-4-6 end-of-season run to qualify for the playoffs. Avery recorded a career-high four points in a game against the Boston Bruins on March 17. He notched one goal and added three assists to help the Rangers beat the Bruins 7–0.[13] Avery later played in his first career playoff game on April 12 against the Atlanta Thrashers. He recorded his first playoff points with a goal and an assist in the series against the Thrashers. He cut down on penalty minutes by about 65% in 2006–07 compared to seasons past.
On August 1, 2007, Avery, as a restricted free agent, earned an arbitration award of $1.9 million for the 2007–08 season, which the Rangers accepted, thus keeping him with the team for at least another year.[14]
Colin Campbell and the NHL fined Avery, Darcy Tucker, the Rangers, and the Toronto Maple Leafs for actions during warmups before their November 10, 2007, game.[15] Howard Berger of Toronto radio station CJCL The Fan 590 alleged that the reason for the altercation was a remark made by Avery concerning Jason Blake's diagnosis with a rare form of leukemia. However Avery denied making the comments,[16] and served CJCL with a notice of libel.[17] On December 3, the radio station retracted on air its allegations made about Avery.[18]
On November 29, 2007, Avery had arthroscopic surgery on his left wrist and did not return to the ice until the game against the Ottawa Senators on December 23.
When Avery scored his seventh goal of the season, ten seconds into a game against the Buffalo Sabres on February 16, 2008, he set a record for fastest goal scored by a Ranger at home ice.[19]
In the early morning of April 30, 2008, after a playoff game against the Penguins, Avery went to the hospital with a lacerated spleen.[20][21] He was released from the St. Vincent's Medical Center on May 4.[22]

Dallas Stars (2008)

Avery signed a four-year, $15.5 million contract with the Dallas Stars on July 2, 2008.[23] He had been a roommate of current Stars co-general manager Brett Hull when the two played for the Red Wings. Hull thought the Stars needed more fire and emotion on the ice, and felt Avery would fit the bill.[24]
Avery's performance largely mirrored the Stars' sluggish early performance; he only scored three goals before he and the team parted ways due to controversial remarks about fellow NHL players (see below). His play was a source of frustration to his teammates; according to TSN's James Duthie, one anonymous Star said that Avery "doesn't pay attention" and has not been able to grasp the Stars' system.[25]
During a November 1 game against the Boston Bruins, Avery was accused of unleashing a torrent of obscenities at a fan who was heckling him in the penalty box. A complaint was filed with the NHL, but no action was taken.[26]

Controversial "sloppy seconds" comment

Dion Phaneuf
On December 2, 2008, prior to the Stars' morning skate in preparation for a game against the Calgary Flames, Avery approached the assembled reporters in the dressing room and informed them that he was about to make a statement. He proceeded to make the following comment directed towards then Flames' defenceman Dion Phaneuf, who is dating Avery's ex-girlfriend Elisha Cuthbert.[27]
I'm just going to say one thing. 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.
Within hours, the NHL suspended him indefinitely for "conduct detrimental to the league or the game of hockey". His comments were met with near-unanimous condemnation by the Stars organization, fellow players and fans alike. Stars owner Tom Hicks said that the team would have suspended Avery had the NHL not acted first.[28] Avery apologized the next day, calling his actions "a bad attempt to build excitement for the game."[29]
On December 5, the NHL fixed Avery's suspension at six games, retroactive to the December 2 game against the Flames. He agreed to undergo an anger management evaluation, and structured counseling if necessary, due to what the NHL called "unacceptable and antisocial" behavior "at odds with the manner in which his more than 700 fellow players conduct themselves". The league disclosed that Avery had been warned before about his behavior by both Commissioner Gary Bettman and league disciplinarian Colin Campbell.[30]
On December 14, 2008—only hours after the last game of Avery's suspension—the Stars announced that Avery would not return to the team. However, Hull said the Stars would continue to honor Avery's contract and support him while he gets help.[31] Earlier, TSN reported that Stars' management were actively pursuing all options to permanently rid themselves of Avery.[25] Hull said one factor in the decision was that coach Dave Tippett and the rest of the team did not want to take Avery back. Earlier, Tippett had said he had specifically told Avery not to talk to the media about his former girlfriends, and was very upset when he did so.[32]

Return to the Rangers (2009–2012)

After completing his program, Avery was placed on waivers by the Stars on February 7, 2009,[33] and cleared waivers on February 9.[34] Rumors began to surface that the New York Rangers were possibly interested in bringing back Avery. As many were predicting, Avery was then assigned to the Hartford Wolf Pack, the Rangers' American Hockey League affiliate, although he remained a member of the Stars' organization (that season, the Stars had no AHL affiliate).[35] On March 2, after weeks of the possible return and buzz league wide, Avery was placed on re-entry waivers by Dallas and claimed by the Rangers on March 3.[36] Rangers head coach John Tortorella, who, while working as an analyst for TSN, had previously stated that Avery was a "selfish ass" and that he had no business in the NHL, said that he was now willing to give him a second chance.[37] On April 4 during a game against the Boston Bruins, Avery struck Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas in the back of his helmet with his stick as he looked up into the stands.[38] Thomas skated after Avery and both received penalties for roughing.[39]
On April 22, 2009, in game 4 of the playoff series against the Washington Capitals, Avery whacked Milan Jurcina on an icing touch-up with his stick and fist that made Jurcina fall to the ice, bleeding. After receiving a minor on that penalty, he then high-sticked Brian Pothier and nearly cost the Rangers a 3–1 lead in the series since the Rangers were short-handed at the end of the game while only maintaining a one goal lead. He was subsequently benched for the following game by coach Tortorella. Following the Rangers' elimination in game seven of the first-round series, Avery praised Tortorella despite the benching, saying it was the right decision and that Tortorella is the coach for whom he wants to play.[40] Avery missed the first four games of the 2009–10 season with a sprained knee. In one game against the Dallas Stars, his former team, Avery had one goal and three assists.[41]
On October 4, 2011, the New York Rangers waived Avery bringing his tenure as a Ranger (at least for the time being) to a close. The decision to waive Avery was due to Tortorella's personal dislike for him. The following day, Avery cleared waivers and was assigned to New York's affiliate, the Connecticut Whale.[42]
On October 31, 2011, the Rangers placed Sean Avery on 24 hour re-entry waivers. The move was done to bring Avery up as a replacement for the injured Mike Rupp. He cleared waivers on November 1 at Noon and re-joined the Rangers for their game November 5 against the Montreal Canadiens. Despite playing less than ten minutes in all fifteen he played in for the Rangers, he scored three goals.
After being a healthy scratch for nine games, Avery was once again placed on waivers on December 30, 2011, three days before the Rangers would visit Philadelphia for the 2012 Winter Classic. Since no NHL team claimed him, he returned to the AHL's Connecticut Whale.[43] After being a healthy scratch for 15 straight games with the Whale, last playing on January 27, 2012, Avery was left off the Whale's Clear Day list of players eligible to play for the remainder of the AHL season submitted on March 5, and Avery was sent home.
On March 13, 2012, Sean Avery said he was retiring but his agent said he was joking. It is still unknown if Avery has retired or not.[44]

Style of play

Despite Avery's relatively unimposing physical stature (5 ft 10 in (1.78 m) and 195 lb (88 kg; 13.9 st)), he is considered to be one of the best (and most notorious) agitators in the NHL. Due to his unorthodox and highly confrontational style of play, Avery has made enemies in the NHL, especially among opposing star players and enforcers. In a 2007 poll of 283 NHL players, 66.4% said that Sean Avery was the most hated player in the league.[45]

The Sean Avery rule

During an April 13, 2008, first round playoff game against the New Jersey Devils, Avery turned his back on the play in order to face and screen goaltender Martin Brodeur during a two-man advantage on the power play. He waved his hands and stick in front of Brodeur in an attempt to distract him and block his view. The puck was later cleared out of the Devils' zone but on the second Rangers offensive attack, Avery scored the power play goal. The play-by-play announcer started marvelling at Avery's tactics aloud:
Call it tactics, call it antics! Call it effective in the end! This is unbelievable, I've never seen anything like this!
Avery and Martin Brodeur
Although screening is a commonly used tactic (especially on the power play), notable in this instance was that Avery had spent the initial part of the play facing Brodeur while ignoring the puck, with his back to the play (normally, the player screening the goaltender is facing the play). While it was not an explicit rules violation at the time of the game, many NHL commentators and players described Avery's actions as unsportsmanlike.[46] The following day, the NHL issued an interpretation of the league's unsportsmanlike conduct rule to cover actions such as the one employed by Avery, which would now result in a minor penalty.[46]
Don Cherry told Toronto radio station The Fan 590 of Avery's tactic, "I've known this kid since he was about 16 years old; Once a jerk, always a jerk. You can't blame the referee, because he couldn't believe what he was seeing."[47]
Avery's tactics during that series against the Devils earned multiple power plays, and he had scored in each of the first three games. Avery had particularly agitated Brodeur during these games, causing Brodeur to crash into Avery on several occasions. Avery's actions goaded Brodeur into trying to draw penalties on Avery which led to poor positioning on several Rangers goals. During game two, Avery confronted Brodeur despite the play headed towards the other end, with Brodeur even leaning his head against Avery's helmet during the exchange. His controversial, yet very effective antics helped lead the Rangers to a 4–1 series win. At the end of the series, Brodeur refused to shake Avery's hand.[48] Avery later said, “Well, everyone talks about how classy or un-classy I am, and fatso (Brodeur) here just forgot to shake my hand I guess. . . We outplayed him. I outplayed him. We're going to the second round.”

Career statistics

Regular season Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1996–97 Owen Sound Platers OHL 58 10 21 31 86 4 1 0 1 4
1997–98 Owen Sound Platers OHL 47 13 41 54 105 11 1 11 12 23
1998–99 Owen Sound Platers OHL 28 22 23 45 70
1998–99 Kingston Frontenacs OHL 33 14 25 39 88 5 1 3 4 13
1999–00 Kingston Frontenacs OHL 55 28 56 84 215 5 2 2 4 26
2000–01 Cincinnati Mighty Ducks AHL 58 8 15 23 304 4 1 0 1 19
2001–02 Cincinnati Mighty Ducks AHL 36 14 7 21 106
2001–02 Detroit Red Wings NHL 36 2 2 4 68
2002–03 Detroit Red Wings NHL 39 5 6 11 120
2002–03 Los Angeles Kings NHL 12 1 3 4 33
2002–03 Manchester Monarchs AHL 3 2 1 3 8
2003–04 Los Angeles Kings NHL 76 9 19 28 261
2004–05 Pelicans SML 2 3 0 3 26
2004–05 Motor City Mechanics UHL 16 15 11 26 149
2005–06 Los Angeles Kings NHL 75 15 24 39 257
2006–07 Los Angeles Kings NHL 55 10 18 28 116
2006–07 New York Rangers NHL 29 8 12 20 58 10 1 4 5 27
2007–08 New York Rangers NHL 57 15 18 33 154 8 4 3 7 6
2008–09 Dallas Stars NHL 23 3 7 10 77
2008–09 Hartford Wolf Pack AHL 8 2 1 3 8
2008–09 New York Rangers NHL 18 5 7 12 34 6 0 2 2 24
2009–10 New York Rangers NHL 69 11 20 31 160
2010–11 New York Rangers NHL 76 3 21 24 174 4 0 1 1 12
2011–12 New York Rangers NHL 15 3 0 3 21
2011–12 Connecticut Whale AHL 7 2 1 3 39
OHL totals 221 87 166 253 564 14 5 4 9 56
AHL totals 124 32 30 62 539 7 3 1 4 27
NHL totals 580 90 157 247 1,533 28 5 10 15 69


  • January 11, 1999 – Traded to Kingston (OHL) by Owen Sound (OHL) with Steve Lafleur for Aaron Fransen and D. J. Maracle.[49]
  • September 21, 1999 – Signed as a free agent with the Detroit Red Wings.[49]
  • March 11, 2003 – Traded by the Detroit Red Wings, along with Maxim Kuznetsov, Detroit's 2003 first-round draft choice and 2004 second-round draft choice, to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for Mathieu Schneider.
  • November 24, 2004 – Signed as a free agent by Lahti (Finland).[49]
  • February 11, 2005 – Signed as a free agent by Motor City (UHL).[49]
  • February 5, 2007 – Traded by the Los Angeles Kings, along with John Seymour, to the New York Rangers in exchange for Jason Ward, Jan Marek, Marc-André Cliche and New York's 2008 third-round draft choice.[49]
  • July 2, 2008 – Signed as a free agent with the Dallas Stars.[49]
  • March 3, 2009 – Claimed off re-entry waivers by the New York Rangers.[36]
  • October 11, 2011 – Avery was sent down to the Connecticut Whale of the AHL.
  • October 31, 2011 – Rangers placed Sean Avery on 24 hour re-entry waivers.

Personal life

Sean Avery grew up in Pickering, Ontario, and attended Dunbarton High School. Avery has a younger brother, Scott (born 1988). Avery played a small role in the 2005 film The Rocket, as Bob Dill. His storyline in the movie was only one scene, where he showed how Maurice Richard became a target, not only for his hockey ability, but also because of his francophone background.[50] In the film, Avery coincidentally portrays a member of the New York Rangers, two years before actually joining the team.
He appeared in a December 2006 episode of MADtv with Kings teammates Tom Kostopoulos and Scott Thornton. He has also been featured on episodes of MTV Cribs, Punk'd and TRL. He was on the "Sexiest Man Alive 2007" list by People magazine, on which Matt Damon was number one.[51]
On March 29, 2008, the New York Daily News reported that Avery was listed in a "little black book" seized from the computer of Kristin Davis, a Manhattan prostitute.[52] Avery denied the accusation and claimed he was a victim of a practical joke, blaming his enemies for using his name.[53] He said he and his teammates just laughed the whole thing off hysterically. Davis's attorney said that his client has "never had any contact ever" with Avery, and even claimed that there is no black book.[54]

Racial slur

On October 11, 2005, Avery made news during the regular season when Georges Laraque of the Edmonton Oilers, a Black Canadian, claimed that Avery called him a monkey during a contest between the two teams. The incident was never proven and Avery adamantly denies it ever occurred.[55] On August 1, 2011, Alexander Frolov, a former teammate of Avery with the Los Angeles Kings, claimed that Avery said racial slurs during his time with the Kings. In an interview with the Russian newspaper,, Frolov stated, "[Avery] sometimes calls opponents black monkeys."[56]

Warren 77

In the summer of 2009, Avery opened a sports bar, Warren 77, named for its location in Manhattan at 77 Warren Street. On opening night, many figures from the hockey world were present, including Brendan Shanahan, Ken Daneyko and Henrik Lundqvist, who performed for the crowd. The décor is meant to reflect an old New York style, with Andy Warhol originals and pictures of icons on the walls, as well as pictures of the Rangers, past and present. Matt Abramcyk, a former art dealer, and Chris Miller, co-owner of the Beatrice Hotel, are co-owners of the bar.

LGBT activism

In May 2011, Avery recorded a video for the New Yorkers for Marriage Equality campaign, where he stated that he is a supporter of same-sex marriage.[57] In an interview with the New York Times, Avery stated, "I certainly have been surrounded by the gay community. And living in New York and when you live in L.A., you certainly have a lot of gay friends."[58] Avery also lobbied politicians in New York prior to the senate vote that eventually made same sex marriage in New York state legal.[59]

Legal issues

On August 5, 2011, Avery was arrested at his home in the Hollywood Hills and charged with battery on a police officer.[60] He had been receiving noise complaints due to a loud party at his home, and when a police officer arrived, he reportedly pushed the police officer. During the arrest, Avery called the cops "fat little pigs" and challenged them to a fight. After Avery posted bail in the amount of $20,000 the next morning, he had a friend ask the officers if they would allow him to go out the back door so as to avoid any waiting cameras. The Los Angeles Police Department denied his request.[61] On August 18, 2011, it was reported that all charges against Avery had been dropped by the Los Angeles Police Department. The officer who was allegedly pushed had actually caught his foot in the door and was never shoved.[62]

Anti-gay slur

During a preseason game on September 27, 2011, against the Philadelphia Flyers, Avery claimed forward Wayne Simmonds called him an anti-gay slur, though the on-ice officials near the play did not hear anything, and Simmonds denied the slur. This prompted GLAAD to call for an apology from Simmonds. "The organization also want the NHL to educate its fans about such hate speech."[63] The league made no discipline for Simmonds due to lack of evidence and the on-ice officials and players denied any proof on Avery's claim.[64]

Fashion interests

In April 2008, it was announced that Avery would be spending the summer off-season interning at Vogue magazine. According to one fashion report, "Avery is a self-confessed clotheshorse who has been known to give girlfriends advice on how to dress, and in interviews has expressed a dream to become a fashion editor after his days on the ice."[65] He joined in a fashion partnership with friend and former director of Calvin Klein's celebrity services, Lauryn Flynn.[66] In June 2008, Avery guest-edited, the website for Men's Vogue magazine.[67] He is also a vintage wine aficionado whose collection has been featured in an interview. He revealed on ESPN that as a child he would play with dolls that he would steal from his babysitter.[68] His interest mainly resides with women's fashion; of men's fashion Avery has said: "You do suits and pants and that's about that. Women's clothes tell a story. That's what's interesting to me."[69]
Avery’s "double life" of being a professional athlete while having an interest in fashion prompted New Line Cinema to commission a screenplay.[69]
In 2009, Avery worked with men's fashion label Commonwealth Utilities to present a clothing line for Fashion Week in New York City.[70]
On February 2, 2012, Avery was a guest judge on Lifetime's Project Runway All Stars. One of his critiques compared an outfit to "Lady Gaga and Gwen Stefani at Burning Man on acid."[71]
Avery is the face of Hickey Freeman's Spring/Summer 2012 ad campaign. The print ads have appeared in Vanity Fair and DC Modern Luxury. Black and white photos were shot by Francesco Carrozzini with styling by Sean Spellman. One ad features a racy and scantily clad Avery with a female model, while the others offer city scenes of Avery in plaid suites sporting sunglasses.[72]

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