Update: Check out Andrew Gross' blog for a shift by shift account of Avery's Hartford debut tonight
As every hockey fan knows Sean Avery has been in the headlines for the past few months after the whole 'Sloppy Gate' fiasco. (If you want to be realistic, you could probably say that Sean Avery has been in the headlines long before that famous quote he made in Calgary.)
Tonight according to TSN Avery will play his first game with the Hartford Wolf Pack (the NYR farm team) and continue his journey to get back into the NHL. The idea is that sometime in the next week or so Avery will be placed on re-entry waivers by the Dallas Stars (the team that blames Avery for all of their early season problems even though Marty Turco couldn't stop a beach ball from getting past him for the majority of the first 3 months of the season). Then, it will be up to the waiver system to determine where Avery will continue his NHL career. The front runner in the 'Avery waiver wire sweepstakes' is the Rangers but half of the league stands in their way (anyone w/ a higher waiver claim than the Rangers can claim Avery and the Rangers would have nothing to say about it).
As you can probable tell from the tone of this blog so far, I'm an Avery fan (as a player). Yes, he's done some stip $hit in the past & probably will do some more in the future. But, the fact is (although many fans are too biased to admit this) - when Avery sticks to hockey, he is an above average hockey player. It was roughly 2 year ago (2/5/07) that Avery was traded to the Rangers from the LA Kings -- after Avery joined the Rangers they ended the season 17-4-6, while he scored 20 points in 27 games to help them make the playoffs. If Avery walks back into MSG within the next month as a Blueshirt, the hope is that he will once again put up those type of numbers and inspire what has become a pretty pathetic offensive Rangers team.
This Rangers fan is hoping that when Avery is placed on re-entry waivers in the coming days or weeks that the other teams with higher waiver priority pass on Mr. Avery. We hope that they continue to see him as a 'locker room cancer', a 'bad teammate', a 'selfish' and 'below average NHL player'. Anyone that watched the Rangers during his previous 104 game Broadway career knows that when all is said and done, the Rangers are a better team with Sean Avery in the lineup. Whether he scores a goal, throws a check, drops the gloves or gets under the other team's skin -- remember this:
Sean Avery can be an effective player and with the way the Rangers have been playing recently, in my opinion he can only make this team better. Not to mention, at roughly $2m of a salary cap hit over the next 3 seasons (because Dallas would be responsible for the other half of his contract if claimed on re-entry waivers), Avery would be a bargain (who thought we'd be saying that in July??)