Canucks and Beyond

The Avery Amendment

04/14/2008 at 6:05pm EDT

No doubt I’m in the minority, but I’m a bit bored by all the high-and-mighty posturing when it comes to Sean Avery’s antics yesterday. If you ask me, I think it was freakin’ brilliant.

Sure, it wasn’t sportsmanlike and it wasn’t classy. It also looked utterly ridiculous and is dead easy to ridicule. And yet, as Martin Brodeur pointed out after the game last night, it was also a very effective bit of gamesmanship:

“Nobody should have to play hockey with a stick an inch from your face. But it wasn’t a bad play. While he was doing it, I couldn’t see anything. The two misses were just luck, I couldn’t see a thing.”

All Avery did—and for the sake of winning—was exploit a weakness that exists in the management of any sport: the complications of human, on-the-fly, interpretation.

He gave it a shot and he got away with it. And you can’t blame the refs; I would’ve been too slack-jacked watching that display to remember the rule book, either.

The NHL acknowledged this today by announcing their explicit interpretation of Rule 75, in order to prevent the scenario from ever being repeated. Here is The Avery Amendment:

“An unsportsmanlike conduct minor penalty (Rule 75) 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.”

So, the NHL has bought themselves some breathing space on this issue, making a public statement intended for the refs, to call anyone else pulling the same stunt. And the players will probably be mindful.

For now.

But what next? What if Avery didn’t wave his stick around like he did last night; if he just stood outside the crease, facing Brodeur, staying in his line of sight and making goofy faces at him?

What would the refs call him for then—bad breath?

The first thing that crossed my mind after watching Avery’s little production last night was the “fat goalie theory” of hockey. You know… that idea that if you can just sign some 800+lb man to stand in front of the net, you’ll win 82 games a year and collect of a new Stanley Cup ring every June.

But no one will ever do it. Why? Well, it’s utterly ridiculous, for one thing. And unsportsmanlike, certainly. No GM would want that association.

But then there’s Sean Avery. You can’t help but wonder how far he’s willing to go to create any advantage for his team.

So I figure the NHL better hope like hell that Sean Avery never gets offered a GM gig anywhere one day. I’m pretty sure the Fat Goalie theory is right up his alley. He’ll sign some guy, then sit back with a smirk on his face as the NHL tries to find a politically correct way of keeping fat guys from playing in the NHL.

I’m not saying I ‘approve’ of the incident last night, but then it’s not my business to. And it is Avery’s job to find a way to win.

He may look like a nutjob at times, but you’ve got to give him points for dedication. :)

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