Sean Avery has made a career out of getting under the skin of his competition. He’s without doubt one of the NHL’s most hated players. But allegations have surfaced suggesting the Rangers forward may have crossed the line with personal comments directed at a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night.
A local radio station has reported that an unnamed Rangers players said a pre-game scuffle between Avery and Toronto’s Darcy Tucker stemmed from comments directed at Jason Blake’s battle against cancer. It’s a damning, disgusting allegation that Avery vehemently denies.
“I am extremely upset and hurt that false and damaging comments were attributed to me regarding Jason Blake,” Avery said Tuesday in a statement released by the Rangers. “I made no such comments. I have lost two grandfathers to cancer and have been a consistent contributor to multiple cancer related charities, first and foremost, Hockey Fights Cancer.
“I am unable to comment further, as the matter is now being addressed by legal counsel.”
The incident began with Avery yelling at Tucker during the warmup before shoving at Blake. Tucker then slashed the notorious pest and the two almost came to blows as members from both teams converged. They eventually dropped the gloves and fought in the game’s first period.
On Tuesday, the league weighed in on the issue, handing the Rangers a fine of $25,000, while the Leafs were ordered to pony up $10,000.
Avery was hit with the maximum $2,500 and Tucker was fined $1,000.
“The unprofessional conduct of Avery in initiating this altercation, less than a week after being involved in an incident in the pre-game warm-up against New Jersey, is the basis for this discipline,” NHL disciplanarian Colin Campbell said in a statement.
“Tucker also bears some responsibility for his inappropriate response.
“Both organizations must also be held accountable for the players’ actions.”
At practice Tuesday Tucker wouldn’t reveal exactly what Avery said, but did express his disgust with the rival player’s behaviour.
“He has no sense of class and you know, what goes around comes around in this game, eventually,” Tucker remarked.
“It goes beyond just getting under guys’ skin. I think (Avery) takes it to a personal level and that’s what guys hate about him,” Leafs tough guy Wade Belak adds. “I think it’s sort of known you don’t really start digging into people’s personal lives.
“You know, call us bad hockey players or whatever but when you start bringing other people into it, that’s definitely crossing the line.”