x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

'Angry' Avery gets dumb and dumber

The National Hockey League has suspended Sean Avery for six games, and he'll also undergo anger-management counselling, after the Dallas Stars winger's sloppy choice of words on the relationship status of an ex-girlfriend and a Calgary Flames defenceman.

The National Hockey League has suspended Sean Avery for six games, and he'll also undergo anger-management counselling, after the Dallas Stars winger's sloppy choice of words on the relationship status of an ex-girlfriend and a Calgary Flames defenceman. Simply put, there's a lot of stupid to go around in this one. Let's start with Avery (with whom stupid has started before). First of all, the distasteful quote in question was so obviously contrived and staged, you almost want to suspend him six games for bad acting. Avery, with a half-smile on his face, waved the TV cameras over and mock-eyebrow-raised his way through his little charade, curiously wondering how it has come to be "a common thing in the NHL for guys to fall in love with my?" and, well, you know the rest.

Dumb, Sean. And it's even dumber because Avery planned what he was going to say, and then said it anyway, perhaps thinking it would be perceived as funny or at least add to his bad-boy persona. It was just a dumb move, no class, no respect. The Stars, though, deserve a share of the blame, especially co-general manager Brett Hull, who had roomed with Avery when the two played in Detroit. The prolific-scorer-turned-GM reportedly was a driving force behind Dallas' decision to sign Avery as a free agent last summer - despite the fact Stars players expressed concerns about whether Avery could fit in.

Avery's reputation, let's say, preceded him. His ability to contribute on the ice - as a physical force, as an effective agitator and, yes, as a capable player in the offensive zone - has been overshadowed by the circus act that sometimes arrives with him. While he's never been suspended for a violent act on the ice, he definitely plays on the edge and there's a long list of foot-in-mouth incidents. But the fact is, he can play. And, while it's a line that Avery appears incapable of walking, the NHL desperately needs some colourful players who will stand up and say some interesting things that will engage and entertain the public.

Anyhow, back to more stupid. I'll confess, I was surprised when the NHL immediately suspended Avery "indefinitely" after his boneheaded comments. The remarks were way off-base - and tasteless and sexist and pathetic and everything else - but still, it took a moment for me to wrap my (male) brain around the league coming down so hard, so soon, for the idiotic uttering of a loaded phrase. If you consider what the league has done, though, it makes a lot of sense. Avery was the perfect opportunity to make a statement, to make it clear to the rest of the players that the NHL won't stand for misogynistic insults.

He has a history of mouthing off, and everybody knows it. Not to mention, had Avery played and had Dion Phaneuf - the reported boyfriend to Avery's ex, actress Elisha Cuthbert - gone after him and some sort of big brawl and/or serious injuries resulted?well, this current controversy would pale in comparison to the media firestorm that would have ensued. But anger-management counselling? Sorry, NHL, but we're not swallowing this one. It's hard to accept this as anything but a PR move from a league that allows fighting and is currently trying to figure out how to get players to stop driving each others' heads through the boards.

How about some anger management for the stick swingers and the sucker punchers and the cross-checkers-in-the-back? I mean, Avery wasn't being angry; he was being dumb. Is there dumb-management counselling? sports@thenational.ae