Sean Avery supporters defend him because they like what he brings to a team. Although he says and does idiotic things on the ice, it is hard to deny his effectiveness. Avery plays hard and infuriates opponents; he infuriates them so much that every time Avery is in the lineup he is a candidate to have his head taken off.
Avery’s antics are often immature and inexcusable, but they do serve a purpose. There is a certain rhythm to hockey, one that is not just dependent on skill, but on concentration as well. When you break that concentration, when you are no longer focused on the game, you are not useful. Avery has an innate ability to take the focus of other players and avert it elsewhere, namely at him.
When Avery plays like this, when guys are more concerned with exacting revenge on Avery than they are on the game, he is a valued asset. However, there is a very thin line between an effective pest and a classless villain. Sean Avery often toes that line, sometimes straddles it, but rarely does he ever actually cross it.
This week he crossed it. There are multiple ways to cross that line – with the exception of a dirty hit – betraying hockey code is the worst. That is exactly what Avery when he confirmed to reporters that Wayne Simmonds called him a homophobic slur.
There was video evidence that seemed to be pretty damning, Simmonds did not further need the indictment of a fellow player. Even though Avery has a personal investment in the cause of Gay Marriage, he still has an obligation to his fellow hockey player to avoid answering questions from the media on the subject.
I am not defending what Simmonds allegedly said, but the truth is words like that are often exchanged between players. Simmonds deserves to be punished as a result of the evidence provided from the video. However, no player should ever publicly reveal what was said by another player.
When talking about the situation after the game Simmonds handled the incident the way a hockey player should by saying “things got said out there and I am not going to repeat to the media what he said.” Perhaps Simmonds was referring to the part where Avery threatened to kill his teammate. Instead, Simmonds took the high road.
The real irony is that Avery, someone who makes a living from saying vile things on the ice, had the nerve publicly call out another player for something he found offensive. It is time that Sean Avery realized when he is being efficient, and when he is being a scumbag. Fortunately for Avery if he can’t figure it out himself, someone will eventually teach him that lesson, because in the NHL justice is swift.
Peterblogdra is a guest contributor whose blog can be seen here.