02 December 2008
Now the league is hiding behind the guise of "detrimental to the league or game of hockey". This is garbage. What Avery said wasn't detrimental to the league, or the game of hockey. He wasn't even talking about hockey. He was talking about the guy currently screwing his ex-girlfriend (who just so happens to be a pretty big ass himself). I think the case could easily be made that it was very obvious that Avery's comments were his and his alone. His remarks didn't do any detriment to the league.
Avery must be laughing this evening, because it's obvious that the thing he craves more than anything is attention, but his comments barely made a ripple in the sports world today... until the NHL (over)reacted by suspending him. Now his mug will be on Sportscenter, Sportscentre, and they have the potential to be featured on non-sports web-sites as well. No press is bad press for Sean Avery, and he couldn't be more pleased that the conversation tonight was about him and not the Stars-Flames game.
Addendum as of 11:20 Pacific time the Sean Avery story was one of the top 4 stories on yahoo.com. Way to avoid the negative spotlight NHL.
Had the NHL handled the situation differently they would have had a must-see regular season hockey game tonight between two teams who are stuggling. By suspending Avery they took every compelling reason to watch the game out of it. There were so many thick subplots for this game with Avery in the lineup, but with one swift declaration the NHL took all subplot from this game. With Avery's comments today Flames-Stars became instant must-see TV. By taking Avery out of the game the game becomes also run, just another in a long regular season. Avery did his best to hype the game the way a good villain can, and the NHL blew the opportunity to capitalize.
Avery's credibility was already in the garbage, and I don't think anyone took him seriously with anything he said (or they shouldn't), but the NHL has taken a hit to their credibility here. They claim Avery's harmelss comments were detrimental to hockey and warrents an indefinite suspension, but last year when General Managers Brian Burke and Kevin Lowe were sniping and calling each other "gutless" and "morons" in the media (all over a transaction that was completely legitimate by the way) the NHL did nothing, letting two general managers have a pissing match in the media. Now what's more detrimental to the image of hockey, two general managers having a stupid name-calling match in the media or a known jackass being a jackass in the media.
The NHL has taken the first step on the slipperiest of slopes. The NHL used to dole out suspensions for: on-ice incidents, criminal activity, or criticizing the league, and more specifically: officials. Now players can be criticized for making remarks about other players. What's suspendable and what isn't. Are Alexander Semin's (commonly taken out-of-context) comments about Sidney Crosby "detrimental" to the league, especially since Crosby is the face of the league. The next time a player says, in frustration, that an opponent better watch his back the next time they play will the league step in with an indefinite suspension? Certainly threatening someone else's safety is more detrimental than a harmless insult.
Avery's role as a hockey player is that of an agitator. His role is to get into his opponents head, make them do something stupid that costs them. He's very good at it, and it seems the NHL doesn't realize they are the opponent.
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