According to a tabloid report, former New York Rangers pest Sean Avery will be part of the next season of Dancing with the Stars, the reality TV program. For Avery haters, this is the latest chance to mutter about one of hockey’s most hated villains.
But I see where Avery is coming from.
OK, I think I see where he is coming from, because I’ve always held the theory that Sean Avery wasn’t like most hockey players; he was a smart guy that just happened to be really good at hockey.
Was he a bad guy in the dressing room, as many have suggested? Perhaps. Did he say some wrong-headed things involving women (specifically ex-girlfriend Elisha Cuthbert)? Most definitely.
But at the end of the day, Avery made nearly $20 million in salary over his NHL career (minus fines and loss of pay due to suspension, of course) and has lived a varied and cultured life. He was an intern at Vogue magazine; he owns a sports bar in Manhattan and he is engaged to supermodel Hilary Rhoda. Now, he’s going to be on network TV on a very well-known reality show. And knowing Avery, he’s not going to be the quiet one on set. Not to mention, he’s still in his early thirties.
Now I’m not saying Avery didn’t like hockey. Clearly nobody who plays all four years of junior hockey undrafted before scrapping his way to a free agent deal and making a living as the most hated man in the NHL is doing it half-cocked.
He may never have won a Stanley Cup and he may have played himself out of the league with his antics, but I would never say Avery lost. We never really think about the passions players have outside of the game unless they’re charitable (David Backes and animals, for example), but there are some who don’t live in a monoculture.
Sean Avery was clearly in that category and whether he wins it all on Dancing with the Stars or gets booted after the first week, he’ll have another unique life experience under his belt – and he wouldn’t have gotten the chance if he hadn’t been a hockey player.