There were many problems that contributed to the Rangers' 3-2 loss to the Atlanta Thrashers last night at Philips Arena. While the non-call on Andrew Ladd for slashing Sean Avery at the end of the second period may not have been one of them, it is very well a part of the growing concern that Avery is being mistreated by the National Hockey League and its officials.
The incident came after the buzzer signaling the end of the second period. Thrasher captain Andrew Ladd took a clear swipe at the ankles of Avery in the neutral zone, which was seen by the refs but no call was made. Avery pleaded his case, reenacting the lumberjack chop, but to no avail as he was simply ignored.
A livid Sean expressed his anger over the non-call and the way he is treated by the officials when talking to Andrew Gross following the game...
"They tell me to f--- off," Avery said. "That's how they talk to me."
There is no hiding the fact that commissioner Gary Bettman and the NHL are not favorites of Sean Avery, and that was made crystal clear after his sexual reference to the media when he was a member of the Dallas Stars. However, on the ice, the league should be treating him like every other player is treated. I understand that some of his actions and words may be out of line, which warrants a close eye to be kept on him - that's reasonable.
But when he is blatantly hacked at after the play, no matter who he is or what his reputation is, that should be a penalty.
Avery is sick and tired of the mistreatment, and it is not only the refs that are giving it to him. Head coach John Tortorella does not even have his back...
"It wasn't a slash," Tortorella said. "It's not a penalty."