***NOTE: Sean Avery was hospitalized after the Rangers 5-3 loss with a lacerated spleen. He is in stable condition. AP Story***
Sean Avery is Broadway’s biggest star of late. The self made hockey hero is getting almost as much attention as Sid the Kid these days, and reveling in every moment of it. Avery’s love of attention, on and off the ice, is the reason he fits in so well in Manhattan and has quickly attained celebrity status. “The thing is, Sean craves attention. And he doesn’t have an on/off switch. He’s always talking, even when he shouldn’t be. It’s like he needs it to be successful. He kind of feeds off it. I don’t know if that’s a flaw in his character, but I think it has helped him get to where he is,” Dave Siciliano, Avery’s junior coach at Owen Sound said.
Avery, perhaps the most annoying player in the NHL, has no limits when it comes to antagonizing his opponents. With Avery, anything is fair game for trash talk. However annoying Avery might be, (note the NHL’s re-interpretation of “unsportsmanlike conduct” thanks to Avery) if he wasn’t as obnoxious as he is, he would probably be back in Canada living with Mom and Dad. He is only 5’10” and weighs in at 195, so what he lacks in stature he has to make up with passion on the ice–even if it means aggravating every NHL player from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
The League must love this guy. Sure, he keeps the PR department busy: “No, the league is not, and never did, support Avery Rule T-shirts,” and, “We assure you Mr. Avery never made fun of Jason Blake for having cancer,” but he sure is brining the NHL a lot of publicity, and he’s got a great story. He actually earned his first NHL contract as a walk on with the Detroit red Wings in 2001. Like many kids in Canada, Avery played in high school where he went from a local house league straight to a triple AAA travel team. He was too small to be considered for the NHL draft so Avery found his own way into the league.
Avery seems to love high profile cities because he played in Las Angeles for four years until he drove his teammates insane and the organization was forced to trade him to the New York Rangers (lucky for Avery, who LOVES the New York City lifestyle). Avery has done very well with the Rangers, whose record with Avery in the lineup is 52-20-9. Avery’s agent argues that this is no coincidence. Even though the Rangers play better when Avery is on the ice, aggravating everyone like only a little cousin can do, there is not doubt about it that Avery is a strange guy.
He is obsessed with fashion, which is why he is interning at Vogue this summer once the Rangers get knocked out of the playoffs—which might happen this week if they don’t find a way to stop the energetic penguins. It all comes back to that severe need he has to get attention. It’s the reason he is thriving in New York City: he just gets so much attention here.
In the teams’ 2007-2008 media guide, Avery is sporting designer glasses. “In a way, I want to make our sport cooler,” Avery said. Last fall he attended the Nautica show at Fashion Week along with teammate, Brendan Shanahan. He has done a number of interviews with the New York Times where he admitted that his biggest self indulgence is, “Making myself the center of attention.” He paints the fingernails on his fighting hand black—to intimidate opponents, and he listens to the saddest music he can muster, “the sadder the better,” he said.
Speaking of celebrity status: Avery was named “Sexiest Scar 2007” by People Magazine.
As much as I love the tenacity he has shown in proving himself as a legitimate force in the NHL I am disappointed with Avery’s obsession with being a celebrity. I went to game four of round one at the Garden when the Rangers beat the Devils 5-3. After the game, I was standing outside the employee and media entrance, along with a handful of fans who were eagerly waiting for autographs. The kid next to me had printed off a collage of Avery photos he was hoping to get signed. I asked the kid if he comes to a lot of games, “not a lot,” he said. “Do the players usually stop and sign autographs?” I asked. “Most of them do, but Avery never does. I hope he stops today,” the boy said. A few moments later we saw Avery beyond the doors. He looked out at the kids holding signs with his picture pasted all over them. He shook his head and walked the other way to the garage. The kid was bummed.