Friday, February 6, 2009

Could Sean Avery Be Heading Back to Broadway?

Larry Brooks, of The New York Post, is reporting that the Rangers have been conducting extensive internal discussions about re-acquiring NHL bad boy Sean Avery from Dallas. These talks, have allegedly included personnel from all levels of the team from management to players, to gauge how his return would be viewed in the locker room. The result of the talks was positive enough that the Rangers' have seriously considered bringing the super-pest back into the mix to try and jolt the offense, currently ranked 29th in the league in goals per game.

"GM Glen Sather, who accompanied the Rangers to Dallas for tonight's game, is expected to speak to Stars' co-GM Les Jackson today about a timetable under which Dallas would put Avery on waivers and then, presuming that he clears, assign him to the Wolf Pack."

According to Brooks' report, after sending in a waiver request, the Rangers will be responsible for half of the remainder of Avery's four-year, $15.5 million contract he signed in July.

The Rangers, who were hesitant to give him more than $3 million per in the offseason, will pay Avery $1,937,500 annually over the final three years of the deal, in addition to a pro-rated portion of this year's salary.

This would all have to happen before the March 4 trade deadline in order for Avery to be playoff-eligible. However, based on the way that reports such as Brooks' are coming out this morning, this deal seems like it will have Avery back in Broadway Blue sooner rather than later.

This pickup could be huge for the Rangers, who are in a very similar spot they were in two years ago. After acquiring Avery from Los Angeles for spare parts, the Rangers went on fire down the stretch thanks in large part to Avery, an instant MSG fan-favorite, who had 20 points in 28 games.

In the playoffs later that year, he pestered Thrashers' star Ilya Kovalchuk so much over the course of the series that in game four he got the russian sniper to drop the gloves with him as the Rangers went on to sweep Atlanta.

Overall, New York was 50-23-13 with Avery in the lineup over the past two years, as opposed to 24-35-9 without him.

However, in an early season game at the Garden, Avery's antics were again on display. This time, the Rangers' fans and players didn't appreciate it as much as he was wearing a Dallas uniform. After getting into it with Lundqvist during warmups, there were a few occasions in which he and Brandon Dubinsky got into a skirmish. One can only wonder what kind of impact an abrasive character such as himself will have when he re-enters that locker room, especially with completely new leadership in place.

The days of Brendan Shanahan protecting him among the players is gone. His behavior has also been well documented by the NHL. Amidst his ongoing feud with Devils' goaltender Martin Brodeur and his "sloppy" comments about Dion Phaneuf's girlfriend, the NHL placed Avery in a behavioral health program through the NHLPA, though it is expected for him to gain clearance to return to the ice soon.

Regardless of his brief past in Dallas, the question remains; Will his skill help the Rangers get out of this scoring slump, or will he leave the team in ruins?

The Rangers represent what's sure to be his last chance at a career revival. If he can harness his aggresive personality it will be a perfect marriage between a team that desperately needs an offensive wake-up call and a player that can provide the quality of a top-six forward.

The Garden Faithful will without a doubt have his back from day one. The chants of "Avery! Avery!" will once again rain down from the blue seats. There will be a heightened level of excitement at home games, which when it is at its' best, makes MSG the toughest place to play in the NHL.

Avery, for the second time in three years, can take a lackluster playoff team, heading towards a first-round exit and bring it alive just in time to make a deep Cup run.

Can he eat his words and make up with important locker room personalities such as Dubinsky and Lundqvist?

He'll have to. Besides, crazier things have happened.

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