Sean Avery: Always the Villain

Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.

Seems like a simple enough idea. I would assume most children with the ability to walk and properly use the toilet would understand the meaning of the phrase. Words are simply words. When somebody makes an inappropriate comment about what he (or she) would like to do your mother you are left with two possibilities for action. You can proceed to react and get even or you can be rational, keep your anger in check, and hit the other guy where it really hurts, the scoreboard. Yet on an almost nightly basis Sean Avery's opposition choose the former and take their shots at him. Players continue to take their hits on Avery because they go unpunished and refs shove their whistles in their pocket revealing a blatant double standard which eventually needs to be addressed by Rangers management.

During Monday's matinee against the Islanders, defenseman James Wisniewski kicked it old school to the 8th grade lunch table and made a hand-to-mouth gesture which fully incorporated hand movements as well as corresponding (and well coordinated) mouth movements direct at Avery (who I'm sure couldn't have cared less). In the age of Youtube naturally this is a problem for the NHL as it was caught on camera and shot around the internet. Even though Avery did nothing but probably have a few choice words for Wisniewski, it is somehow his fault that the Islanders defenseman lost his head. Yes, even when Sean Avery is the victim (if you want to call it that) he's the villain. Mike Millburry (yes the same Mike Milbury who is responsible some of the worst managerial decisions in the history of modern sports) had this to say:

"Here we are we're talking about Avery again, not because he made a great backhanded pass to set up the game-winning goal, but because he's part of another unsavory incident. It's like watching a car wreck. You know it's not going to be pretty but you can't seem to turn away from it until you've had a look... It's too bad that Wisniewski lost his composure and let Avery get to him. If you send a message to everyone in the league, it would be just to ignore him and make him go away sometime, and the sooner the better because it's no fun anymore."

Listen Mike, you and the rest of the media are the ones who have chosen to talk about Avery. The fact of the matter is, Avery did nothing wrong. Sure he may have said something to Wisniewski that would make the saltiest of sailors turn rosy in the cheeks but I thought hockey players were supposed to be thick skinned? Instead of continuing to focus on Avery as if he and his mouth are the biggest problem in the NHL why don't you focus on players who actually play to injure. How about Matt Cooke? Who intentionally tried to decapitate Marc Savard last year and as a direct result is still unable to play because of post-concussion symptoms. Avery has never done anything even remotely as egregious and severe as Cooke yet he is anointed the villain of the NHL. Avery plays with an edge but he is not a dirty player in the sense that he has thrown hits with intent to injure.

Instead of wishing Avery was out of the league and continuing to undermine him in the press, why not focus your mindless efforts on players who are a real detriment to the game; players who hit dirty, players who hit to injure, and players who unfortunately cut productive members of the league careers short. Actual bodily should always trump meaningless words. Member of the hockey media and the NHL need to remember that.