Sean Avery. The one time “NHL’s Most Hated Player” has certainly made quite a name for himself during his tenure in the NHL. From signing with the Detroit Red Wings as a free agent in 1999 to his up and down moments while in New York and as a Dallas Star, Avery quickly became a fan favorite while on Broadway.
While his career has been shrouded in controversy and constant fines, Avery brought a spark to the lineup that no other teammate could bring. He would ignite the crowd and get them into the game while energizing his team. Now, he may have gone over the edge quite a few times just to do it, but, that was part of his game (i.e. punching Washington Capitals goaltender Varlamov or tapping Tim Thomas with his stick during a TV timeout). He even holds the record for scoring the fastest goal on Garden ice, just 10 seconds into a game against the Buffalo Sabres on February 16, 2008.
He was traded to the Rangers from the Los Angles Kings on February 5, 2007. He recorded 20 points in 29 games after being traded and helped the Blueshirts reach the playoffs. Since his Broadway debut, Avery has been involved in countless contentious yet sometimes somewhat entertaining altercations. Who can forget his feud with former New Jersey Devils’ goaltender, Martin Brodeur?
Avery’s first stint in New York ended on July 2, 2008 when he signed a 4 year, $15.5 million contract with the Dallas Stars. In 23 games with Dallas, he scored 3 goals and 10 points. He was ultimately suspended for 6 games by the NHL in December of 2008 for his controversial remarks during a pregame interview about his former girlfriend Elisha Cuthbert and NHL player Dion Phaneuf. On February 7, 2009 he was placed on waivers by Dallas.
Avery was assigned to the Hartford Wolfpack (Dallas had no AHL affiliate at the time) and then once he cleared waivers, the Rangers picked him up again. He remained a mainstay for the Blueshirts from 2009 to the 2012 season. In the 2011 season, he was sent back down to Hartford, but called up due to an injury. He was unfortunately once again waived and sent back to Hartford.
Ultimately, Sean Avery retired on March 12, 2012 where he “threw his skates into the Hudson.” While majority of fans and players will be happy that Avery retired, he has certainly left his mark on the NHL. He even has his own rule named after him,
“An unsportsmanlike conduct minor penalty will be interpreted and applied, effective immediately, to a situation when an offensive player positions himself facing the opposition goaltender and engages in actions such as waving his arms or stick in front of the goaltender’s face, for the purpose of improperly interfering with and/or distracting the goaltender as opposed to positioning himself to try to make a play.”
There was even rumors circulating that former Rangers’ General Manager Glen Sather was interested in bringing back Avery during the 2013-2014 season when he toyed with the idea of coming back to hockey. However, head coach Alain Vigneault was reported saying that he, “could not help the Rangers.” Avery will be missed by few, but those who did enjoy the fan favorite would have love to see him play at least one more game for the Blueshirts.