Welcome to the first rendition of the Broadway Blueshirt Blogger. You will have to forgive me as I am not a professional writer or journalist. I am simply a die hard New York Rangers fan. I signed with the New York Rangers as a free agent fan on July 21, 1996 along side the great #99 Wayne Gretzky. Previous to that I was a St. Louis Blues fan, Los Angeles Kings fan and Edmonton Oilers fan. Don't worry though, the puck stops here in New York, New York.
Being a Canadian, I often face criticism and jokes from friends and colleges about cheering for an American franchise. There is something special about being a fan of the Rangers. Maybe it is because they are an original six team rich in history and traditions. Maybe it is the atmosphere from the fans and our home at Madison Square Garden, the World's most famous arena and the National Hockey Leagues oldest active arena. Whatever it is, I wouldn't have it any other way. Enough about me, lets get right into the ongoing Sean Avery
On October 4, 2011 Avery lost the last roster position to Erik Christensen and was placed on waivers by New York Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather. Avery was assigned to the club's American Hockey League affiliate the Connecticut Whale. However, Avery didn't make his debut with the Whale until October 29 after recovering from a shoulder injury. Avery would only play 2 games with the Whale before injuries to forwards Mike Rupp and Wojtek Wolski caused his recall to the Rangers on November 1.
Avery proceeded to play 15 games with the Rangers netting 3 goals, 0 assists, 21 penalty minutes and a plus 2 rating. For comparison, Avery's competition Erik Christensen has played 20 games, netting 1 goal, 4 assists, 2 penalty minutes and a plus/minus of 0.
Avery had been a healthy scratch for 9 consecutive games prior to the New York Rangers waiving him earlier today. Christensen has been a healthy scratch for 5 consecutive games and I predict that he will not suit up and join the Rangers in today's matchup versus the Florida Panthers.
It is believed that Rangers forward Wojtek Wolski is close to returning after being sidelined with surgery to repair a sports hernia. Wolski has played in 6 games this year netting 0 goals, 2 assists, 2 penalty minutes and a plus/minus of 0. Wolski did practice earlier today in Florida.
With that being said, I strongly believe that waiving Avery is a bad decision for the Rangers. Head Coach John Tortorella has made it abundantly clear that he does not like Avery. There have been times where Avery hasn't played to his full potential, but Tortorella has never really given him a fair chance. Avery is a strong skater and can produce points when he focuses on playing hockey. He consistently shows up to training camp in better shape than most of his teammates. He is also quite effective as an agitator, after all he is the NHL's most hated player. We can't forget that Avery has been relied upon to be an agitator and not a point producing winger. Avery also doesn't appear to require as much attention from the coaching staff in comparison to the Boston Bruins agitator forward Brad Marchand.
It is time for everyone to wake up. Where is the accountability for Christensen and Wolski? They are not fulfilling the expectations of Rangers management, front office staff, their teammates or the fans. Wolski is being paid 3.8 million dollars compared to Avery's salary of 1.9 million. It would be difficult to compare Wolski and Avery's point statistics with the Rangers as Wolski has only "played" two seasons with the Rangers compared to Avery's 6 seasons. What I will dwell on is that fact that not only is Avery cheaper for the salary cap, but he is a much more durable player. In the past two years Avery has played 91 games compared to Wolski's 79 games. Plain and simple, Wolski is overpaid, underachieving and fragile. If anyone should be feeling the heat, it is undoubtedly Wolski.
So what does the future hold for Sean Avery? He certainly has a lot of options. New York Post writer Larry Brooks wrote in his article today that "The Post has learned, GM Glen Sather had given Avery's agent, Pat Morris, permission to talk to NHL general managers during the Dec. 19-27 holiday roster freeze to try to find a landing spot for the winger". I believe that a trade is unlikely as Avery has cleared waivers twice this year with no other teams showing any interest.
The two more likely options include Avery obtaining the Rangers permission to go play hockey over in Europe or with the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). The Connecticut Whale also recently accepted ex Ranger Aaron Voros on their roster. Avery and Voros remain good friends and teammates and the possibility of Avery finishing his contract in Hartford with Voros might be attractive.
Both Avery and Wolski are unrestricted free agents at the end of the 2011-2012 season.
**Salaries based on http://www.capgeek.com
**Player statistics based on http://www.newyorkrangers.com