Kevin Allen, Bob McKenzie & Damien on Sean Avery

Folks, as I have told you from the very first time I started to write this blog, behind almost every story there is one common theme. The almighty dollar is the ultimate inspiration and driving force behind so much of what goes on. Sometimes people’s motives are clear. Greed, is good as the line from Wallstreet goes. Other times you have to look a little closer, between the lines if you will, to realize what exactly is going on.

You see, Larry Brooks writes about inconsistencies in the NHL justice system. This is not a case about justice. This is about money. Don’t think for one second this whole issue is about anything other then money. For one second, however let’s look at a more reasonable approach to this issue from Kevin Allen.

As predictable as Larry Brooks response to the Avery incident was, the fact that Kevin Allen would present sound arguments supporting the NHL was equally a given too. While he hasn’t been as vocal about the incident in the local papers Damien has a post on ESPN about it too and he is more in line with Mr. Brooks (what a surprise) as opposed to Mr. Allen.

“The First Amendment guarantees that all U.S. citizens have the right to open their mouth and make fools of themselves. Sean Avery exercised that right Tuesday by going on television and making a crude remark regarding Calgary Flames defenseman Dion Phaneuf’s relationship with Avery’s ex-girlfriend.
There are many important legal battles being fought over free speech in the workplace, but none, to my knowledge, are being waged over an employee’s right to publicly demean the girlfriend of someone who is a member of the same union.”

I love when something like this happens how the first amendment arguments fly out of people’s mouths…. Sorry folks, from my perspective that is totally irrelevant.

“he NHL needs to punish Avery, but the important message here has to come from the Dallas Stars, who gave him a four-year, $15.5 million deal.
Since Avery came in the NHL, he has continually disgraced the game with his antics and words. It’s embarrassing for respected players such as Marty Turco, Mike Modano and Brenden Morrow to play beside a player who is this disrespectful to the game and its image.”

Every comment out of Dallas is anti-Avery. Turco’s comments were pretty telling when he said something like this is what they have come to expect from a guy like Avery….

I love this next piece because Allen offers a solution, which most critics don’t, they just complain:

“Presumably Avery will be suspended, and when he is finished with his suspension, the Stars should put him on waivers. Given the circumstances, I can’t believe any team would bite on his contract. How would a general manager explain to fans that he is bringing in Avery?
If he clears waivers, then the Stars could send him to the minors until he demonstrates he has respect for the game that has made him a millionaire. And if he does get back to the NHL, then he should be subject to zero tolerance. If he doesn’t report to the minors, the Stars could suspend him.”

I agree, except that I doubt Avery will report to the minors and am sure that the union would file a grievance somewhere along the line.

“if Avery’s character requires him to be a rebel, there are ways to accomplish that without behaving like a punk. Avery’s boss, Dallas co-general manager Brett Hull, was a rebel. He exercised his right of free speech throughout his career and didn’t shy away from criticism of the league. If Hull didn’t like the way the game was played, he said so. But didn’t engage with fans or take verbal shots at opponents or talk about their girlfriends. Hull was a loveable rebel, and Avery comes across as an ogre.”

I am not sure about Hull being lovable, but I get the point… There is a right way to be an ass and then there is Avery’s way…

“he has become the NHL’s most undesirable character, a shameful performer who doesn’t seem to know where the line of human decency is located. A suspension and a trip to the minors might help him find it.”

To think we almost had him here in Toronto. I wonder if Burke/Wilson think they can control him…

Read the rest of Allen here

Over at TSN, Bob McKenzie provides some insight into how sour things have gotten between player and team:

“Avery’s attempt to issue an apologize to his teammates and the organization through the organization was summarily rejected by the club today. Sources tell TSN that Avery’s personal publicist reached out to the Stars’ president on Wednesday morning in an effort to get the club, in conjunction with Avery, to issue a formal apology by means a press release. The Stars made it clear to Avery’s representative that the door was not open for that to happen, that they wanted nothing to do with it. Avery later in the day issued a press release apology of his own that was not issued or sanctioned by the team”

One word….ouch

The Hoser says that the stars are considering the following options, adding on to whatever suspension the NHL levies, trying to negate the contract he signed under the conduct detrimental to the league clause, an off season buyout, sending him to the AHL,

Time will tell what the Stars do, at least McKenzie thinks that they will make the leagues punishment look mild.

As for Damien…

“When Sean Avery decided this week to slag his ex in the most discourteous way possible, the NHL decided he’d broken an unwritten rule and told him to take a seat. Meanwhile, some laughed at his “sloppy seconds” comment and suggested that kind of brazen showmanship would bring attention to the NHL and enhance its profile.”

Has anyone heard this mentioned as a positive for the league? Didn’t think so…

“One man’s entertaining outspokenness, it seems, is another man’s obscenity.
This is the reality that professional sports leagues confront when they attempt to legislate against words or thoughts. Without the benefit of a public vote to tell them what their constituents believe is a proper code of verbal conduct, these organizations rely on reflexes or gut feelings when it comes time to decide what is lively trash talk and what crosses the line into untoward politicization of their sport, a hate crime or simple crude and boorish behavior.”

You don’t think the public has voted???? Some things aren’t so clear, this one isn’t one of those cases, people seem pretty aligned that Avery crossed the line this time. Except Larry Brooks of course.

“So when the Dixie Chicks choose to dis Dubya, there was no commissioner of country rock to hand down a suspension. No matter whether the Dixie Chicks were right or wrong, it was the market, or a chunk of their market, that reacted negatively to their words. They didn’t have guaranteed contracts to lean on, only their reputation and appeal.Saturday Night Live” can parody recent vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and chuckle about those who would call her a “MILF,” but there’s no one to sit down Tina Fey for the next five episodes of “30 Rock.”

Wrong, wrong, wrong. First Don Imus seemed to get shut down pretty quickly. Second, those in the entertainment industry answer to a much more powerful entity then a commissioner, Corporate America. That is who pays the bills. So if Apple, Coke, Reebok, Mastercard, or any other corporate giant thinks for one second that being affiliated with you isn’t such a good idea you are sunk… Don’t think for one second that this isn’t what has set off The Count in NYC.

“Theater, art and rock ‘n’ roll are about having no rules, while sports are, to some extent, all about rules. It’s why those shut-ins will call in while watching a golf tournament to complain about a ball that was lifted illegally. Without the rules, there is anarchy, right? But when it comes to words, thoughts and morality in professional sports, whose rules apply? Who are we protecting, exactly? The kids who watch everything and anything on YouTube, or those who belong to abstinence groups in college and participate in overseas service trips?”

It is really amazing that Damien has missed the boat on this. The ones being protected here are the ones writing the really big checks. With the world economy plunging, do you think anyone in the NHL or team marketing departments wants any negativity of this type while trying to save a relationship that is diminishing for financial reasons. Companies want to sponsor sure things, not ones where they may get one whiff guilt by association.

“In the case of Avery, he offended a lot of people, but most specifically, he offended NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. Never mind that he has said similar things or nastier things over and over during his career to his opponents and has directed disgusting slurs against their girlfriends, daughters or mothers. Sean Avery is set to meet with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and league disciplinary czar Colin Campbell on Thursday in New York.
Never mind that this is a league that does little or nothing to stop the words that athletes exchange on the ice, mostly because there’s little it can do about attempts to get the other guy “off his game.” You can turn on games any night and read the lips of coaches and players saying things a great deal worse than what Avery had to say about Dion Phaneuf and Elisha Cuthbert. But after the Dallas forward stage-managed his own news conference Tuesday afternoon in Calgary, the league suddenly felt compelled to act.
Confused? Join the club.”

This is really so simple… There is no reason for confusion. Rome is burning all over corporate north America and the NHL can’t have this type of thing all over the press as the lead story when it has dasherboards to sell. Funny how all these naysayers love to tell us how bad things are with every team in the league, yet when there is really good evidence of it they can’t see the signs…

You can read the rest of Damien here….

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