NEW YORK RANGERS: It's Time For Coach Torts To Just Leave Sean Avery Alone! Get Off his Back Will Ya?
I'm not going to defend Sean Avery's game last night against the N.Y. Islanders. I'm not going to even try. If you've followed my Ranger postings, you know I've been a proponent of Sean Avery all season.
But Coach Torts has made it very clear. Sean Avery is his twelfth favorite forward. Translated that means Avery is his least favorite forward. There is no doubt in my mind, John Tortorella's long standing disdain for Sean Avery, ever since Avery's on-air lewd comment incident while Sean was still with Dallas, and perhaps even before that, still affect their relationship today as player and coach. And everything Avery does, is viewed through skewed eyes by said Coach.
Avery has been cornered into a position where he needs to play near-perfect Hockey with his chances, or risk sitting out extended shifts or being excluded from ice time all together. Does he lead the team in penalty minutes? Absolutely; by a wide margin. But I'm not defending that either. What I am protesting is the fact Sean Avery has played good soldier all year. After being made a healthy scratch in California, he still had the where-with-all to utter the most appropriate responses when asked about the benching.
Penalties aside, Sean Avery is one of the most complete forwards on this team. And what Coach Torts incorporates into his utilization of Sean Avery can be called nothing short of personal and petty. But of course, that's my opinion. But then, you explain it. Sean Avery has shown the more he's been incorporated into the top lines, the more he stays in the moment and plays effective Hockey. But after any sparkling game, Coach Torts has pulled the plug on him every time. This time Coach Torts unplugged him all together by making him a healthy scratch. Then what you saw against the Islanders was an Avery who was disengaged from the team again. That's on Torts.
Avery has lent himself to change this season. There is no denying that. In fairness, so has Coach Torts. He's been a less volatile Coach that the Torts of seasons past. He's also much more nurturing of his young players than he gets credit for. I believe he's exerting a lot of pressure on Glen Sather to keep the youngsters in tact and if that's the case, we should be very thankful. So, I'm caught in the middle as a fan of both men.
But while both persons can be credited with their respective mood alterations, only one needs to learn about giving the other a fair shake. Coach Torts looks at Avery as the next horrible thing to go wrong when ever he's on the ice. This must change. Of course Avery must meet and satisfy the challenge of any alteration in Tort's schemes. But Avery has shown a different demeanor this season and seems willing to do less of what he did last night against the Isles and more to help this team by stabilizing a top line. But that's predicated on frequent ice time and getting a fair shake.
Larry Brooks, Coach Tort's long standing enemy, has cut Coach Torts large amounts of slack in his column this season, as even he recognized a subdued Tortorella was slightly more tolerable and open during Q&A.
Sean Avery has done much to sustain a consistent demeanor this season. His penalty minutes might be high but could be partially explainable since his reputation precedes him in the eyes of the Zebras. Larry Brooks; Coach Torts antagonist, has maintained a consistent tone with Coach Torts and has given him his due credit and space to breath which is a stark difference from the more combative moments they've shared. Everyone seems to have made some kind of humbling consolation for the sake of civility and team success. All except John Tortorella and his season long mistreatment of Sean Avery.....along with all his deeply-held opinions he keeps to himself, but which he'd like to hurl Avery's way (I'm sure).
Avery and Larry Brooks have put down personal differences and have been good soldiers. Coach Torts is a Coach I like and am firmly behind. But he is wrong about this one. He continues to make the conditions between him and Sean Avery a personal matter and not about Hockey. If he made Hockey based decisions regarding Avery, he would have left him on a line with Gaborik long ago instead of relegating him to eight minutes a night and penciling him in as a healthy scratch.
This I believe is not good for the team, and would like for Coach Torts to relent, and find Sean Avery quality and consistent ice time..., for all our benefit.