On the ice or off it, former NHL player Sean Avery has gained a reputation as the most hated man in the league. Most casual viewers and non-hockey fans would question why a man who has worked in modeling and advertising, and aspires to be an actor would be hated by so many in the NHL. Yet, the left wing not only spent 12 years tormenting teammates and opponents on the ice, but he wrote a book that uncovered secrets about his teammates, ex-girlfriends, and the NHL. Avery isn't just hated by fans and players, he is hated by the entire league.
Sean Avery: On the ice
To say Avery was an abrasive player would be an understatement. He courted controversy on the ice. Perhaps the longest lasting memory Avery left the NHL with was the "Avery Rule". In a playoff game between his New York Rangers and the New Jersey Devils, Avery set up in front of the crease to distract goalie Martin Brodeur by wildly waving his arms. Brodeur was distracted and the Rangers scored. The NHL subsequently instituted the Avery Rule to prevent nuisances like the left winger from distracting goalies on a regular basis.
In 2006, Avery made enemies when he took a dive onto the ice following a mild collision with Jaromir Jagr. The farcical dive proved Avery to be the wind-up merchant many fans, players, and coaches labeled him as. Then, there was Avery's provoking of James Wisniewski to fight only to backdown. Avery was able to lure Wisniewski into making a lewd gesture for everyone to see.
Sean Avery: Off the ice
Avery's off ice incidents have been more bizarre than the ones on it. In 2007 while playing for the Rangers, Avery was fined $2,500 for making an insensitive comment about Toronto Maple Leafs player Jason Blake before a game. Blake was battling leukemia at the time.
A year later, Avery made his now famous "sloppy seconds" comment about two ex-girlfriends. Both had begun dating other NHL players and the comments were unprovoked. It seemed a jealous Avery, who sought out the media on the day of the comments, just wanted to air his grievances. He was suspended six games for the comments.
Sean Avery: The book
In 2017, Avery's book, Ice Capades: A Memoir of Fast Living and Tough Hockey, opened the lid on the NHL and his former girlfriend Elisha Cuthbert. Avery didn't just pull back the curtain for a peek into the NHL, he ripped it down and let everyone into see the carnage. Ice Capades is to hockey what Jim Bouton's seminal 1970 book was to baseball at the time.
Although the book is respectful towards the Rangers and legendary players from the Detroit Red Wings, it also has plenty of tidbits and stories about drugs and alcohol the NHL doesn't want fans to hear.
Is Avery one of the dirtiest players to ever play in the NHL? Avery's legacy will be one of controversy. Fans and hockey writers won't focus on Avery's 90 career goals or 247 career points. No, they will focus on the moments of controversy, his tell-all book, and cutting down other players through his words.