The Inane suspension of Sean Avery

Let this be clear. Sean Avery is a jerk. He's a colossal ass, but Sean Avery said nothing wrong. He made a crass comment about an ex-girlfriend's current boyfriend (one who happens to be a gigantic overrated ass, but that's besides the point.) who happens to be employed by another company that is overseen by the same company. He didn't do anything illegal, he didn't do anything violent. He didn't get arrested for domestic violence, he didn't even shoot himself in the leg. He made some crude comments. He's shown through his actions and words, that he's a complete ass, but he should not be suspended for a game, let alone indefinitely, for his jokes that presumably target Flames defender Dion Phaneuf.

Now the league is hiding behind the guise of "detrimental to the league or game of hockey". This is garbage. What Avery said wasn't detrimental to the league, or the game of hockey. He wasn't even talking about hockey. He was talking about the guy currently screwing his ex-girlfriend (who just so happens to be a pretty big ass himself). I think the case could easily be made that it was very obvious that Avery's comments were his and his alone. His remarks didn't do any detriment to the league.

Avery must be laughing this evening, because it's obvious that the thing he craves more than anything is attention, but his comments barely made a ripple in the sports world today... until the NHL (over)reacted by suspending him. Now his mug will be on Sportscenter, Sportscentre, and they have the potential to be featured on non-sports web-sites as well. No press is bad press for Sean Avery, and he couldn't be more pleased that the conversation tonight was about him and not the Stars-Flames game.

Addendum as of 11:20 Pacific time the Sean Avery story was one of the top 4 stories on Way to avoid the negative spotlight NHL.

Had the NHL handled the situation differently they would have had a must-see regular season hockey game tonight between two teams who are stuggling. By suspending Avery they took every compelling reason to watch the game out of it. There were so many thick subplots for this game with Avery in the lineup, but with one swift declaration the NHL took all subplot from this game. With Avery's comments today Flames-Stars became instant must-see TV. By taking Avery out of the game the game becomes also run, just another in a long regular season. Avery did his best to hype the game the way a good villain can, and the NHL blew the opportunity to capitalize.

Avery's credibility was already in the garbage, and I don't think anyone took him seriously with anything he said (or they shouldn't), but the NHL has taken a hit to their credibility here. They claim Avery's harmelss comments were detrimental to hockey and warrents an indefinite suspension, but last year when General Managers Brian Burke and Kevin Lowe were sniping and calling each other "gutless" and "morons" in the media (all over a transaction that was completely legitimate by the way) the NHL did nothing, letting two general managers have a pissing match in the media. Now what's more detrimental to the image of hockey, two general managers having a stupid name-calling match in the media or a known jackass being a jackass in the media.

The NHL has taken the first step on the slipperiest of slopes. The NHL used to dole out suspensions for: on-ice incidents, criminal activity, or criticizing the league, and more specifically: officials. Now players can be criticized for making remarks about other players. What's suspendable and what isn't. Are Alexander Semin's (commonly taken out-of-context) comments about Sidney Crosby "detrimental" to the league, especially since Crosby is the face of the league. The next time a player says, in frustration, that an opponent better watch his back the next time they play will the league step in with an indefinite suspension? Certainly threatening someone else's safety is more detrimental than a harmless insult.

Avery's role as a hockey player is that of an agitator. His role is to get into his opponents head, make them do something stupid that costs them. He's very good at it, and it seems the NHL doesn't realize they are the opponent.


  1. 1) As our post today would indicate we agree with your assessment on this. The league elevated his remarks with the suspension. What would have been a 1 day story now 'has legs', and we will probably be reading about this for days and weeks and you can bet the next Dallas-Calgary game is circled on everyone's calendar
    2) Dallas owner Tom Hicks' silly statement was beyond ludicrous. Anyone who has followed hockey the past 2-3 years knows what Avery is all about. This should shock no one! He was being himself. As the weenies at Versus said, this kind of trash talk takes place on the ice all the time. Why glorify Avery with the suspension. He didn't threaten anyone, just made some dumb(par for an Avery quote) remark

  2. Jib, I love ya and am right there with you on most of your blogging, but I have to disagree. You're missing one crucial point here: Avery's comment targeted more than just another player; it was a mysoginistic slur against a girlfriend. Furthermore, he clearly planned it. I think he even rehearsed it and was DYING to say it! All of that goes into the resulting suspension.

    Now, does it deserve that suspension by the NHL? I don't know only because it's not going to do a damn thing to deter him from further ridiculous behavior. But the NHL was justified in doing something. Like it or not, deserved or not, these guys are glorified by kids and held up to be role models. They should be held accountible according to that status. I'm well aware how unrealistic it is as I'm a teacher who is held to a higher standard than the general public. If I went on TV and made a comment like that, not only would I be putting my job in jeopardy, but I would be risking my career. California has been known to pull teachers' credentials for much less. So make an example of Avery. Sure, he loves the attention. But it might make other players think twice before doing the same. And anything that can keep hockey elevated on the class-o-meter is fine by me!

  3. I agree with Beach N Snow, I mean he WAITED until everyone had their attention on him.

    I get that hockey is a game where trash talk on the ice is a common thing, but there are some things you should just keep between the guys in the room, what avery said is just that, I'm sure some of the younger guys on the stars had a good chuckle over it, but to shame yourself in front of the nation...

  4. "Avery's comment targeted more than just another player; it was a misogynistic slur against an ex-girlfriend." If we're going to take some context into account, let's take all content into account. Who hasn't insulted an ex-girlfriend (or ex-boyfriend) with some not so nice words.

    And yes he sought out the attention, and the NHL played into his hands. A little backdoor wrangling to get Hicks to suspend him would have been way more appropriate. Had that happened the sotries would have been "Has Avery already worn out his welcome on the Stars?". By suspending him the league gave him the attention he wanted which is focused on him. He played the NHL for fools.

  5. And that d-bag John Zeiler only gets a 3 game suspension for actually mauling a person with his elbow, not his mouth... Sometimes I wonder what is going on in puritanical America land.

  6. "Who hasn't insulted an ex-girlfriend (or ex-boyfriend) with some not so nice words."

    On national TV? By waiting for the cameras to go on and allowing the media to circle you while they prepared themselves for a quote? Not many of us, I'd bet. ;o)

  7. I don't think saying that another guy is having your "sloppy seconds" is necessarily misogynistic in general. Misogyny indicates a hatred of women in general. He's simply "dissing" his ex-girlfriend, and her ex-boyfriend. By all the hype - I expected something far more intense...