Principe's Blog: Avery Bites in the Big Apple
Gene Principe recaps the Avery situation & the Oilers' response to the act
Sean Avery attacks Ladislav Smid after initially appearing to decline his invitation to fight during Sunday's game at Madison Square Garden in New York City (Getty Images).
It was at the 11:18 mark of the third when Sean Avery was asked to fight by Ladislav Smid. Smid's Oilers were on the wrong end of a 5-2 score. He was frustrated after Avery had just delivered a crunching check on Edmonton's Colin Fraser. Smid was standing up for a teamate..Avery was backing down and I get that. It was a clean hit, his team was sailing along smoothly there was really no reason for him to fight. He turned him down. After the game there were different accounts as to exactly what was said. That I can't be certain of but I know what I saw.
I saw Smid trying to keep an eye on the play and on Avery. As slimy as the NY winger has proven to be on the ice and off it with things that he has done and said the Edmonton defenceman never saw it coming. Smid got jumped when he finally turned his full attention to the play and took a right hand square in the jaw. Fight over with a one punch knockdown. Then to top it off as Avery was being escorted off the ice he gave it that cheesy smirk and smile. It was like throwing fuel on an oil fire.
Ryan Whitney came over, so did Theo Peckham, Colin Fraser, Zack Stortini and by the time it was over 121 penalty minutes had been handed out and among those gone from the game was Avery. For a moment I started looking to see if Paul Newman was out on the ice because it was looking like a scene out of the movie 'Slapshot'. It could have been uglier but credit the officials from keeping this from becoming a 70's like brawl.
I know what the Oilers did was right in trying to get after Avery and I guess you can't blame the Rangers for protecting their teamate. It's what they are brought up to do but do you think it's what they wanted to do? They may have preferred to leave him on his own and see how he would have fared against Edmonton. After the game the Rangers Erik Christensen said he believed Avery had suckerpunched Smid and that's coming from his teamate. Not even those who wear the same jersey could verbally protect him.
I don't know if Avery has problems that he needs a shrink to help him with but does NY really need him that bad to sell tickets, win games, to get in the playoffs and to be crowned champions? If they do then the Rangers are kidding themselves on how good a team they really have. I don't know if this story is true but an old tale from the 1980's is that one time Theo Fleury told Wayne Gretzky that Gretzky was the most hated guy in the league. The Great One's response to Fleury was that Theo was the most hated guy on his own team. For Sean Avery I think it might be a case where he's both.