Well, that was interesting, wasn’t it? After three years, the Sean Avery circus has moved on to New York, where the media there should have a blast getting to know Sean. The trade — for those who don’t know, Avery was traded to the Rangers for prospects Marc-Andre Cliche and Jan Marek and NHL winger Jason Ward — brings an end to a brief and odd era in Kings history and sends away one of the most polarizing players in team history.
Not many people have a middle ground when it comes to Sean Avery. You either love him for his willingness to speak freely and play hard or you hate him for shooting off his mouth and taking dumb penalties. Everything you’ve read or heard about Avery, good and bad, is pretty much true. You can decide for yourself what to make of him.
I’ll say this much: he was an interesting character to deal with. Some athletes accuse reporters of goading them into saying things and/or twisting their words, but Sean can’t ever make that claim. In previous years, all you had to do was approach him with a pen and notebook, and the stories practically wrote themselves. His act wore thin, first among coaches and then among teammates, but he quieted down tremendously this season.
During the conference call, I asked Dean Lombardi about Sean getting a fresh start, and Dean didn’t really buy into the concept but this is what I meant: Sean has, by most accounts, tamed his act this season, but I got the feeling that as long as he was in a Kings uniform, he was going to be viewed a certain way…by players, by refs, by fans, by media, etc. That won’t necessarily change in New York, but it might. We’ll see how Sean handles things.
As for what the Kings got in return…well, we’ll see. Cliche caught Lombardi’s eye because he plays on the same juniors team as goalie Jonathan Bernier, the Kings’ No. 1 pick last year, but Cliche is only 19 so it’s hard to predict what will happen there. Marek is 27 and he’s been toiling in Europe for nine seasons. It’s hard to see him becoming a NHL player but who knows? And Ward is there pretty much just to fill out the roster this season. Per rules, the Kings can’t sign Cliche until March 1 and can’t sign Marek until after his season is complete in Russia.
Avery will be a restricted free agent this summer. He makes $1.1 million this season. According to one report, the Kings tried to get a first-round pick in exchange for Avery, but they had to settle for less, it seems.