If you didn't see it, Sean Avery of the Rangers had a heated argument with Jason Blake and Darcy Tucker of the Maple Leafs during practice prior to their game on Saturday. The incident apparently was instigated by Avery. The former LA King was arguing with Tucker before he shoved Blake. Tucker then aimed his stick at the Rangers' agitator, and then the two got in each other's faces. While everyone thought it was simply Avery being Avery, many reports have surfaced that the Rangers' pest was mocking Blake about having cancer.
Although nothing has been confirmed, you'd have to believe the accusations are true, considering many media outlets across North America have given mention to the incident. Howard Berger of The Fan 590 in Toronto first reported the news on the air, and TSN is reporting that Colin Campbell plans to meet with Avery about the altercation. Most Rangers players avoided the issue when confronted by the press after the game, and Avery also stayed mum on the subject. Darcy Tucker called him classless, and Leafs enforcer Wade Belak offered his two cents:
"He's pissing guys off. He'll bring harm to himself and not too many guys around the league are going to be sad to see it. If he keeps this up, someone is going to kill him. One day he's going to say something the wrong way and he'll be clubbed. And I'm not saying it will be by me, either."
Is that a promise or a threat? Another report states:
"A player from the rangers that wants to remain nameless, said that he wanted to strangle Avery for making a cancer remark to Blake. When Blake was asked about it, instead of making a comment he made a face/gesture that confirmed that a comment was made."
I'll go with the assumption that Avery did in fact make a wise crack about Jason Blake having chronic myelogenous, a rare form of leukemia. (The former Islander was diagnosed within the first weeks of the season.) Let me say this first; Sean Avery is an agitator. He gets paid to get under the other teams' skin and energize his team. He's arguably the most hated man in the game. I respect what he brings to a team; the Rangers are a completely different hockey club when he's in the lineup. With that said, he took being an agitator to a new level Saturday. He crossed the line and he should and will pay for his actions.
Most people who aren't Ranger fans absolutely despise Number 16. If you don't, watch this: http://youtube.com/watch?v=pOwsEQ7jFak
With these allegations, he just gave hockey fans and players another reason to hate him. Whether the league takes disciplinary action against Avery or whether players on the Leafs or even friends of Blake's here on the Island take exception to the comments in a game setting remains to be seen. I think a fine at the very least is warranted, and it's only a matter of time before someone goes head-hunting for the Rangers' forward.
The player has precedent and notoriety for completely idiotic comments like this. First, he made derogatory remarks a few seasons ago about "French-Canadian visor-wearers." (Hello, MAB!) Next, it's rumors about making racial remarks about now-Penguins forward Georges Laraque. And now he's making fun of a man who's going through life-changing treatment to stay alive and beat a disease; what kind of heartless punk are you, Sean Avery? You make me SICK.
Darcy Tucker said it best. (Wow, you know it's bad when I'm on his side.) Smack-talk is part of the game, but when you take it to a personal level and bring outside people into the matter, you're out of line.
Here's what I think: There has to be something emotionally or psychologically wrong with this cat. Maybe he wasn't hugged enough as a child. Maybe he hung around with the wrong crowd growing up. Maybe he's still bitter about getting dumped by Elisha Cuthbert. Whatever the reason, Avery needs to shut up and play. The NHL doesn't need him garnering any more negative publicity.
What's even more sickening to me is while looking around the internet researching certain things for this blog, I saw that a couple of Ranger fans approved of Avery's actions and praised his work as an agitator. Classy. Real classy. (Although I will admit most of them didn't support Avery.)
I'm a nice guy. I'd never wish harm on anyone, especially a player who puts his body at risk by playing the game I love. In this instance, Sean Avery is the exception. As far as I'm concerned, the name Sean Avery is synonymous with "gutless puke," as Eric Cairns once dubbed another former Ranger. If he ever got severely injured or contracted a disease like Blake has, I for one would not feel an ounce of sympathy.
I'm sure this topic will be bandied about quite a bit in the coming days. I'd love to hear some of your thoughts about this in the comment section here. You can also drop me a line at [email][email protected]