by Tony on 02/15/09 at 04:43 PM ET
Aaah Sean Avery. You remember Sean, he’s the one who’s being portrayed as if he’s a cancer on the supposedly-snow white pure National Hockey League.
Sean is in Hartford now, biding his time with the Rangers’ AHL affiliate because the Stars don’t have an AHL team this year. Speculation has been running rampant that the Rangers will re-acquire Avery on re-entry waivers, whenever that is.
That is, unless a team with a worse record than the Rangers rolls the dice and claims Avery first. A team, like perhaps, the Pittsburgh Penguins ??
In Thursday’s Newsday, Steve Zipay stated, in reference to a possible Avery return to the Rangers, that he can’t specify when Avery could make his home debut —in fact, a team like Pittsburgh, we hear, might claim him on recall waivers.
Things that make you go hmmm, indeed.
We all have our opinions about Avery and his antics. Personally, I think the witchhunt on him, because of some admittedly stupid remarks, was entirely overblown by the NHL. He most definitely crossed the line with his stick-swinging in front of Marty Brodeur in last year’s playoffs.
But the bottom line in reference to Avery is that he’s the best agitator in the league, bar none. Former Penguin Jarkko Ruutu is close, but he’s not at Avery’s level of pain-in-the-assness. And once Ruutu left for Ottawa this past offseason, his departure was one of several that left the Penguins a much, much soffer team.
Yes, the Penguins signed Matt Cooke, and I love watching Cooke play. He’s one of the very few Penguins who isn’t afraid to throw his body around, especially among the forwards. But as I admitted earlier this season, Matt Cooke is no Jarkko Ruutu. They just play two completely different games. Cooke’s aggression, while I’m sure much appreciated by his teammates, is not the same as agitating. Guys like Avery and Ruutu can target the opposition’s stars and get under their skin like no others. That’s something that’s especially valuable in the playoffs, where fighting is rare.
In addition, it’s not like Avery is one-dimensional, like enforcer Eric Godard. Avery, up until this season, has had 15, 18 and 15 goals respectively for both the Kings and Rangers. He’s not your typical ham-n-egger grinder, he’s got offensive skills, something that is lacking on this year’s Penguins.
There are things that may prohibit any inklings that Ray Shero and the Penguins may have about claiming Avery. First and foremost is his salary. Picking him up on re-entry waivers will get him at half-price, which will make it easier for this year. However, Avery is due $4 million for the next three seasons after this one, so with a payroll already close to the top, that may be a deal-breaker.
Second are the “clubhouse cancer” fears. It may very well be that Mario Lemieux, Ray Shero, HCMT and others may not want that type of attitude in the Pens’ locker room.
After the Penguins’ horrible 6-2 loss in Toronto last night, even making the playoffs is going to take a major push by the Pens. The trade deadline is a little over two weeks away. It’s reported that Avery will probably play about three more games, after he made his debut for Hartford last night, before getting recalled.
Shero’s quickly garnered the reputation for pulling the surprise deal. We’ll just see if he’s got another one up his sleeve.
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Welcome to The Confluence, a Pittsburgh Penguins blog since 2006.
Originally at Blogspot, then at MVN, TheConfluence has over 1500 articles reporting Penguins news as well as jumping on my soapbox to opine constructive Penguins criticism.
I am blogger- credentialed with the Pittsburgh Penguins. My posts are regularly linked by hockey websites such as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh Tribune Review, Yahoo!‘s Puck Daddy, and I’ve done numerous guest blogger spots on such websites asthe New YorkTimes. I am a retired U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer.
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