Sunday, February 08, 2009

About Sean Avery

To Arthur Staple at Newsday:
It might be just you, Tom Renney, and me, who think that Sean Avery should come back to the Rangers. I was very sorry to see him leave New York for Dallas, but I know he went for the money. Allow me to defend.
New York and Avery can be very good for each other, and especially good for the NHL in general. His ego can flourish in the bright lights of MSG, and our city, like no other, can get behind a tough-guy antagonist. I believe him when he says that he tried to rile up the Flames with his off-color comments. I do not condone his language, nor do I approve of the underlying attitude that would allow for such comments, but I understand his supposed motivation.
He showed that he can control himself during last year's playoffs by keeping his elbows down and his nose relatively clean. He made solid hits, took very few penalties, and played very well. Of course, he caused the writing of the 'Avery Rule' during the Devils' series, but at the time, getting in Brodeur's face as he did wasn't against the rules. I watched it live, before any spin, and it made me jump up out of my chair and cheer. I thought it was quite inventive.
Hockey in the USA, as you well know, has a very poor following in relation to the other major sports. You get one football, and you can have a few dozen guys play a game. Same with soccer. Basketball. Even baseball, to a degree (with the addition of a bat and a few mitts.) In order to play hockey, each player needs lots of equipment, putting the game out of reach of many would-be players. Nothing creates fans like people who play the game watching the pros play the game that they love (or a bandwagon to jump on.) We need to rely on other methods to increase the fan base of ice hockey. One method would be to have a headliner in a major city like New York. (Of course, Canada doesn't need to promote the sport - it's a gimme up there!) A big-mouth media hound like Avery would bring fans to the game (there's no such thing as bad publicity), and I think the sport itself has a good chance of keeping them there once they're in.
My biggest concern for the Rangers taking him on would be his health. I'm concerned about his wrist, his spleen, and whatever else we don't know about yet. I thought Avery initially went to Dallas for the big payday because he knew his health was deteriorating, and he looked short-term, rather than long.
His brooding, bad-boy attitude did not fly in Dallas, but with the right structuring and smoothing over, Renney and crew might allow a good fit in his former team, making a winning (or at least entertaining) combination on Broadway.
Thanks for listening,
Wayne Cohen,

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