Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Happy Trails Sean
The Dallas Stars signed Sean Avery to a four-year, $15.5 million contract today at 1:22 pm.
And so, the Avery era in New York comes to a close.
It's hard to fault Avery because he had an idea of what he was worth and he went out and got it. An athlete's career is short and he has to get his money while he can - especially after interning at Vogue, where he saw that most writers don't make spit. With his recent spleen injury, I am sure that the value he set was a hard number that he wouldn't budge from. And, unfortunately, the general manager that he was negotiating against is a firm believer that he is the king of the hill and that no player is bigger than the team.
In this case, he may have been incorrect.
Over the year and a half that he was a Ranger, Avery twice inspired a miraculous run to the playoffs after the team was stuck in the doldrums. The numbers don't lie - the Blueshirts were 50-23-13 with Avery and 24-35-9 without him. And don't be fooled by Sather's rhetoric either, the Rangers would not have made the playoffs the last two seasons without Avery. They would stumble time and time again after taking 2-0 leads in '06-07 - a horrible, heart-wrenching trend that changed when he came to town. He also scored the game-tieing goal in the pivotal 3-2 shootout win over the St. Louis Blues that marked the season's turn-around.
Aside from losing the sparkplug that got the engine going, the Rangers are also losing their best public relations agent. Avery helped renew the faith of the Blue Seat faithful by spending time with them. He also helped get the Blueshirts out of the sports section in New York and got more eyes on the team. The NHL's p.r. task has been to show people who aren't tradition sports fans that hockey is pretty cool and Avery did that better than any Ranger since Ron Duguay. Adam Graves can go around and brighten the smiles of thousands upon thousands of children but Avery could get millions of girls to look at the Rangers.
I would say that is well worth the million dollars or so per year that separated the two parties in the contract negotiations, wouldn't you?
But, you know what? It doesn't matter, Sean Avery is now a Dallas Star. At least he went back out West and won't be around to put the dagger in the Rangers should fall flat on their face next spring ...