Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Follow-up on Sean Avery

According to the New York Post, the arbitration hearing for Sean Avery was a little more brutal than Avery had anticipated. Prior to the hearing it was reported that the team intended to say that he was a "reasonably effective player as well as a detriment to the team." However, the hits didn't stop there as the team apparently dropped this bomb on him as well:

"Avery is not a mature player. He plays, at times, like an individual rather than a member of a team. This is sometimes referred to as an inability to see the ice, and in Avery's case this seems to fit with his overall approach to the game."

This is how the team justifies their desire to only give him a $200,000 raise over the $1.1 million he made last year despite the fact that he had the best season of his career. It's clearly a strategy to tear him down in order to remain under the salary cap but I think it's going to have disastrous results. Avery is exactly the kind of player that the Rangers needed to bolster an otherwise somewhat whiny and soft crew, led by the erratic and weak-hearted Jaromir Jagr. As the Post points out, this is counter to what the team was claiming last spring when they consistently and repeatedly praised him for what he brought to the team both on and off the ice. In fact, his teammates Brendan Shanahan and Jaromir Jagr used to echoe the team's commending sentiments. Avery had "no idea what to say" other that to say he was "shocked."

The ruling should come down today or tomorrow morning but, regardless of the ruling, I would be surprised to see Avery even want to play for the Rangers again. I would also expect him to play with a massive chip on his shoulder this season which could lead him to his best performance yet, making whichever team is lucky enough to benefit from the Rangers' idiocy all the more grateful for Rangers' GM Glen Sather's ill-advised strategy.

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