It's been a great year for Blackhawks home games and tonight will be no exception. Another Original Six team is in the building.
The New York Rangers are a great team to watch. They feature the league's leading goal scorer in Marian Gaborik and the league's leading ass hat in Sean Avery.
Gaborik, who leads the league with 21 goals, is one of the most dynamic offensive players in the NHL, but most eyes won't be on him tonight.
Instead, they'll be on the NHL's biggest instigator, agitator, and all around bad guy. Sean Avery, known for his dirty hits, trash talk, and off the ice escapades is the kind of guy you love to see fail. Problem is, he's good enough to score that game winning goal, and stick it to you.
I've always hated the guy. The fact that he began his career as a Red Wing certainly didn't help, but it was more than that. He's got perpetual "jerk face." He's a punk who's hated by opponents and teammates alike.
In fact, last year Avery was such a distraction when playing for the Dallas Stars, they were forced to suspend him, send him to counseling, and "waive" him so the Rangers could pick him up. The final straw for Dallas came when Avery arrived in Calgary for a game against the Flames. Calgary defenseman Dion Phaneuf was dating actress Elisha Cuthbert, who happened to be Avery's ex-girlfriend. When the Calgary press approached Avery, knowing he'd say something stupid and inflammatory, he didn't let them down. "I'm really happy to be back in Calgary; I love Canada," Avery said. "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."
Funny? Sort of. Uncalled for? Yes. Good for the league? Although they wouldn't want to admit it, yes. Every sport needs a villain and Avery is the perfect guy for that role. He's everything the "hockey community" hates. He's not a humble hillbilly from Moosejaw, talking about how, "It's all about the team." He's a pretty boy and proud of it. He actually interned at Vogue magazine, likely just to meet hot women. Couple that with his d-bag antics on the ice, and he's the perfect criminal.
The NHL villain has worked for years, and the league has been lacking one in recent years. Guys like Dino Ciccarelli, Bob Probert, Tie Domi, and Claude Lemieux have played the thug for years. Avery won't fight like they will, but if the league took the reigns off him a bit, fans would be packing the building to boo him.
If a team is willing to put up with him, let them. Take the restraints off of him, and he'll be back in the news in short order. Any attention is good attention for the NHL. With Sean Avery comes
unbridled hated. With unbridled hatred comes booing fans spending
money in NHL arenas. What could possibly be the downside?