That Sean Avery's spot on the Rangers' roster was in danger has been known for while now: John Tortorella had said the team wanted to carry just thirteen forwards once the regular season begins on Friday in Stockholm, and that the final job would come down to Avery and Erik Christensen. And so when Avery was a healthy scratch for the team's final two preseason games, the writing appeared to be on the wall. But now it's official: The Rangers have placed Avery on waivers.
Avery, of course, is known for a lot of things, most of which don't have anything to do with his ability to shoot a hockey puck. He's a former Vogue intern, a supporter of same-sex marriage, and a co-owner of a bar and a restaurant here in the city. He's dated actresses, drawn the likes of Amy Sacco and Barbara Bush (not this one) to his birthday party, and is the reason Gary Bettman may or may not have had to explain to his daughter what "sloppy seconds" meant.
Even within the hockey community, he's best known as a pest capable of getting under an opponent's skin. (His most memorable on-ice moment may have come during the 2008 playoffs, when he camped out in front of nemesis Martin Brodeur, waved his stick around to distract the Devils goalie, and eventually scored a power-play goal, leading to the creation of the so-called Avery rule.)
Having said all that, we've always thought Avery was a better hockey player — in terms of things like skating and passing — than he was generally given credit for. But then again, he generally wasn't given much credit for those things at all.
Earlier today, we talked to Rangers radio analyst Dave Maloney for an interview that'll run later in the week. The news that Avery had been placed on waivers hadn't officially broken yet, but Maloney, as he put it, could read the tea leaves. Maloney explained that while much is made of what Avery brought to the team emotionally, and that he brought a certain kind of personality to the club, Avery's future with the organization would come down to the following question: "Is that personality needed at this particular stage of its development? "
The Rangers, obviously, don't think so. Here's John Tortorella, on the team's decision, from the Daily News:
"The players that are here are better than Sean Avery," Tortorella reiterated. "Maybe not in the role or a couple instances Sean could help us in, but they're more versatile in a lot of different areas.
"I'm trying to do this the right way, because I do not wanna keep on shoveling dirt over Sean Avery, but we have better players than Sean Avery, right now on the hockey club."
Avery, of course, never seemed to mesh with Tortorella — in the words of Lynn Zinser of the Times, the coach "seemed at best to tolerate Avery and all that came with him" — and considering his diminished role last year, today's outcome seemed almost inevitable.
So what happens next? Here the financials of all of this, via Larry Brooks in the Post:
Should Avery be claimed on re-entry, the Rangers and the claiming club would each be responsible for $1 million in salary while Dallas would still pay $2 million. Under that event, the Rangers and claiming club would each carry cap hits of $968,750 with the Stars charged $1.937.5 million under the cap.
If Avery isn't claimed, the team could assign him to Connecticut of the AHL, and his agent says he'll explore all options, including playing in Europe. But, according to Brooks, it's been made clear that there's no chance of Avery being recalled.