Sean Avery no star in Dallas

First published in the Lethbridge College Endeavour, Oct. 29, 2008

Why is it every time I turn around someone is telling me what a fine hockey player Sean Avery is?

And if they aren’t saying how good he is, they’re at least claiming the importance of his presence on a team. It baffles me to the core every single time because there is literally zero evidence that either statement is accurate.

The fact the only decent team he ever suited up for (Detroit) publicly discarded him because they couldn’t stand him apparently isn’t enough to convince people. So, without further wasted ink, here is the Shmitzy Says: If that guy didn’t flap his uncontrollable gums at every micro-phone that orbited his enormous head, nobody would have a sniff who he is, um, column.

Now I could spend the entire piece discussing the stupid stuff Avery says on a constant basis, like “nobody cares about Jarome Iginla” or “fatso-Brodeur has no class”. I could remind you Avery thinks French-Canadians are weak and inadequate and then list all 18 players from La Belle Province who saw the score sheet more than he did last season.

If I was really in the mood, I would give a sermon on how Vogue magazine is not a viable workplace for anyone harbouring testosterone, but I’m not going to do that. I’m going to stick to the statistics. While simply exposing his embarrassments would be extremely satisfying and side-splittingly hilarious, doing it won’t prove my point.

First of all, Avery’s stats are so consistent they’re almost automatic. That would be a great attribute if it didn’t mean less-than half a point per game coupled with more- than three times as many penalty minutes than games played.

By definition, those numbers should put Avery in the heavyweight division of the league. I know his fans say he has great hands and a good on-ice vision, but numbers never lie, and his numbers make him an enforcer.

The only problem is enforcers are usually big, and Avery couldn’t reach the 200-pound mark if he was allowed to wear that ridiculous fur hat he loves so much during the weigh-in. What is that, a muskrat?

Even if he could throw some weight around, which he doesn’t possess, how would that make him an essential piece to a winning puzzle?

The top-30 penalty getters in the NHL last season all had one thing in common, and it wasn’t just an inability to settle disputes through rational chitchat and a handshake. Not one of the top-30 so- called tough guys played for the Stanley Cup winner.

Granted, two of them played for the Cup finalist Penguins, but neither Georges Laraque nor Jarkko Ruutu played significant roles in the run.

The point is the role of the enforcer has lost major importance since the days of self-policing hockey. Having an undisciplined bruiser skating around looking for something to run into all the time doesn’t win hockey games anymore.

Senseless aggression is fun to watch and killer for fantasy pools I’ll admit, but it’s useless. No one — especially diehard Canadians — likes to hear it but being barbaric is a secondary characteristic and most heavyweights attend playoff games in a suit.

However, Avery plays whenever he is healthy so he must have more to offer. Judging by his salary, let’s hope there’s something extra in him somewhere.

While most of the league’s bullies get somewhere between $500,000 and $1 million for their prowess, this guy pulls in almost $4 million for his penalty box parade.

There is no way to hide it; $4 million is goal-scorer territory.

By the way, he has a career-high of 15 goals and makes the same kind of money as guys like Milan Hejduk, Derek Roy, and Brian Gionta. It’s also interesting to note his salary is well over $1 million more than Henrik Zetterburg receives.

But there is really only one fi gure worth mentioning when offering perspective on Avery’s pay cheque.

Sean Avery is a bigger cap hit than Evgeni Malkin.

The prosecution rests.

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