Sean Avery is scheduled to meet with NHL commish Gary Bettman Thursday. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
There’s absolutely no question the Dallas Stars should buy Sean Avery out of his four-year contract.
After all, they’re on the hook for $15.5 million for a guy who is tied for 210th place in NHL scoring. They’re taking up almost $4 million in cap space a year for a player who is on pace for 10 goals this season. He was purchased on the premise that the New York Rangers couldn’t win without him in the lineup last season, but going into last night’s game against Calgary, Avery had played every game and the Stars were last in the Western Conference.
But please, enough of this tongue-clucking and moral indignation over his totally inappropriate comments concerning his former girlfriend, Elisha Cuthbert, who just happens to be dating Calgary Flames defenseman Dion Phaneuf.
It looks as though the NHL, which couldn’t suspend Avery quickly enough, is poised to come down hard on a player who has never been suspended before and fined only twice for what has come out of his mouth.
The Dallas Stars, who were only too happy to sign him, expressed their disgust, saying they would have suspended him themselves if the NHL hadn’t seen fit to do so. A number of commentators are calling for Avery’s head, saying the NHL should use its broad moral powers to kick Avery out of the league or the Stars should invoke a morality clause to void his contract. A 10-game suspension for this nonsense is expected.
So, I ask, where was all this moral indignation when Bryan Allen two-handed Henrik Zetterberg and broke his leg a few years back? Why isn’t everyone scrambling to occupy the moral high ground when players are getting stepped on and having their heads driven into the boards?
Just so we all have this straight: John Zeiler gets three games for his boarding/check-from-behind/headshot to Adam Foote and Mike Mottau gets two games for a flying elbow at the head of Frans Nielsen. Funny how nobody ever talks about how potentially ending another player’s career is “detrimental to the league or game of hockey.”
Then you have commentators on all-sports stations rebuking Avery as though Cuthbert was their own daughter. Please. These are the same outlets that, moments after expressing their disgust with Avery, chose to replay the tape of his comments dozens of times. If it were so offensive, why did they have to keep showing us what Avery said?
Part of the problem here is this whole Avery thing is as much an indictment of the media and society at large as it is of Avery. We’re the ones who give people such as Avery the platform, then we express outrage and indignation when they spew garbage.
Avery is a marginal player who should be ignored, but there they were, a dozen reporters waiting patiently for him to emerge and speak. And you can bet they were all there because their bosses instructed them to hang in until Avery spoke because you never know what’s going to come out of his mouth.
That’s rich. They’re complicit in setting up the whole thing, then continue to perpetuate by showing it ad nauseam, then look down their noses at Avery for saying what he said. And just in case you didn’t see or hear it the first 15 times we ran it, here it is again. Isn’t that terrible?
Then the Stars themselves get all uppity about Avery. After all, they couldn’t have possibly seen this coming.
Perhaps that’s why, in an interview on Sept. 6, co-GM Brett Hull said of Avery: “To me, this team has always been too mechanical, too unemotional. I want to get some personality, I want to put some waves in the water – and he’s the perfect guy…I think he will make us a better team.”
Then fellow GM Les Jackson added: “We know we have to overpay to get a free agent, so you have to find a free agent who will fit what you need and who can give you value for the length of his contract. That’s what we saw.”
Now the Stars will try to get out of a bad contract and some think they should invoke a morality clause to do it.
I’d love to see them try that one.
Ken Campbell, the author of Habs Heroes: The Greatest Canadiens Ever from 1 to 100, is The Hockey News' senior writer and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Wednesday and Fridays and his column, Campbell's Cuts, appears Mondays.
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