April 16, 2008

Sean Avery does his best to reduce the NHL to the level of the WWE: (single link to a Youtube video). The NHL responds.

posted by NoMich to hockey at 10:53 AM - 43 comments

Let it be known that I think Avery's act was silly. However, I think his though process (blocking Brodeur's view) was a good one and I commend him with attempting to stretch the rules. As a referee, I would have given Avery a penalty (high-sticking) the moment he waved his stick in front of Brodeur's face. Simply put, if Avery had skated up to an opposing player and started waving his stick in that player's face, he would have gotten a penalty for doing it, so why should he get away with doing it to a goalie. If Avery had simply faced Brodeur the entire time and (without the stick and glove waving) blocked Brodeur's vision by moving his whole body, then I don't think he did anything wrong. At the same time, if he's doing that and a defenseman attempts to push him out of the way, then the defenseman shouldn't get a penalty either. If a player wants to actively obstruct the goalie's view (while facing the goalie), then a defenseman should be allowed to clear the view. If a player is passively obstructing the view (facing the puck), then the defenseman should not be allowed to manhandle the player in front of the net. What the NHL has done has removed any need for the referee to make too much of a judgement call, which is probably a good thing.

posted by grum@work at 11:08 AM on April 16

Avery should have gotten two minutes for semaphore. It may have looked ridiculous, but it wasn't a penalty. To be high-sticked, you have to be hit. I'm glad the NHL had the good sense to act on it immediately and maintain the integrity of the game.

posted by sandskater at 11:43 AM on April 16

Count me in the group that doesn't get the outrage from some corners of the NHL about this. Sure, it looks a little silly, but it's perfectly within the rules, or at least it was at the time. Avery just took it to another level. I have no problem with the NHL changing the rules about this, though I think it would be better if they changed it after the season as opposed to mid-stream as they did. I also agree with those who ask, "If this were anyone other than Avery, would this be a big deal?"

posted by TheQatarian at 11:51 AM on April 16

I think the league did a good job with this one; from not calling anything at the time to adjusting the rulebook immediately. And I've got to hand it to Avery, he had a good plan, I'm just surprised no one thought of it sooner. "If this were anyone other than Avery, would this be a big deal?" Yeah, for sure it would. I think this would be a WAY BIGGER deal if it was someone who doesn't have the reputation of being a little punk to begin with. Imagine if that had been say, Alfredsson or Selanne acting like that!

posted by captaincavegirl at 12:15 PM on April 16

It would be stupid to allow a player to wave his stick blindly in the air. If you look at the video, the tip of his stick is all over the place. I don't care what he's doing to distract the goalie; it might be unsportsmanlike but it's life for NHL goaltenders. His disregard for the safety of everyone else around is grounds for a penalty.

posted by dfleming at 12:21 PM on April 16

Sean Avery is a punk and this stick waving broke the code. Even his own team-mates have had trouble sticking up for him (one of them said, if your stick isn't on the ice, you're not going to score) and if you look at the 25 second mark of that video his team-mate skates over in the middle of the play to have a word with him -- that is extremely unusual and in my mind the team mate was telling him to cut the crap. Whether what he did was in the letter of the rules or not it was just stupid and undignified and childish and the reaction across the league has pretty much been, "I haven't seen that since PeeWee hockey".

posted by rumple at 12:48 PM on April 16

Thanks for posting this, NoMich. I heard a radio discussion on this play but didn't see it. Grum, I think you said it best. If a forward is/was allowed to do that, then a D-man should be able to clear the front of the net. I guess that's a moot point now. I'm not outraged at all. It was Bush League for sure, but it worked. Who would've thought Avery's stick would be on the ice for the pass after 45 seconds of swatting flies? It reminded me of the "BaseketBall" psych-outs. rumple, I agree. I also noticed his teammate say something to him right when it started, that was interesting. It looks like the ref said something too.

posted by BoKnows at 01:25 PM on April 16

Whether what he did was in the letter of the rules or not it was just stupid and undignified and childish and the reaction across the league has pretty much been, "I haven't seen that since PeeWee hockey". True, but it was also perfectly legal, and most importantly, very effective. It reminds me a bit of the controversy about some player bunting for a hit which broke up Curt Schilling's no-hitter a few years back when Schilling was still with the D-Backs. I forget which player it was that did it, but his team was down 2-0, and his goal was to bring the tying run to the plate. Many of Schilling's teammates, as well as Bob Brenly (the manager), were outraged because someone had broken one of the "unwritten rules" (or "the code", as stated above). Schilling, to his credit, said it made complete sense and wasn't upset about it, at least outwardly. Of course, bunting for a hit doesn't look as silly as what Avery was doing, but it's the same basic premise. There is nothing wrong with doing what it takes to win, as long as you aren't cheating or potentially injuring someone. If it needs to be a rule, write it down (which is exactly what the NHL is doing here).

posted by TheQatarian at 01:44 PM on April 16

It was Ben Davis who broke up Curt Schilling's perfect game in the 8th inning of a game between the Padres and Diamondbacks. I don't agree that Avery's tactics were "very effective" -- the Rangers scored after Avery's little ploy was broken up on account of the zone having been cleared and Avery was not pulling those tactics at the time of the goal (he was directly in front of Brodeur at that time, but was actually trying to make a play, as opposed to just trying to distract him). I doubt Avery would have been doing this on any power play other than a 5-on-3, so it's not as if this was likely to become a common tactic in any event.

posted by holden at 02:27 PM on April 16

I don't agree that Avery's tactics were "very effective" What's more effective than a goal? I agree that Avery wasn't doing the "hey, hey, look at me" at the time of the goal, but he was probably in Brodeur's head. On that last rush before the goal, I was expecting Avery to do it again, maybe so was Brodeur.

posted by BoKnows at 02:42 PM on April 16

I felt like posting this, but, as a Devils fan, didn't want to be accused of homerism. But now that NoMich did it, here goes. When I was playing youth hockey, I thought it would be a good idea to do something similar to that. I stood on the edge of the crease, shouting and banging my stick to distract the goalie. The referee warned me that if I kept it up, I was going to sit for unsportsmanlike. When I got to the bench, my coach sat me down for my next shift for being a punk. Needless to say, I never did it again. Learned at 10 or 11 years old not to be a little punk on the ice (at least in that regard.) Avery hasn't quite caught on yet. Being an agitator is all well and good, but shit like that would make Claude Lemieux or Esa Tikkanen shake their head in disgust. If you have the balls to plant yourself in front of the net every shift a la Thomas Holmstrom, more power to you. But to jump around like a monkey doing that ooga-booga shit on a five on three smacks of severe bitchery. Lest anyone feel it's allright, check with some players around the league. Gary Roberts, himself an elder statesman along with being an accomplished agitator, called it bush league. I'm going to have to defer to him. If this were anyone other than Avery, would this be a big deal Imagine if that had been say, Alfredsson or Selanne acting like that! I don't think anyone but Avery would pull that shit, especially not class players like the aforementioned, so it's kind of a moot argument. It would have been a good time for someone to relieve Mr. Avery of a few teeth, but already down 5 on 3 and 2-0 in the series, who is going to take the instigator penalty, along with the 5 minute major? Already hurting on the blue line, can Colin White, Andy Greene, or Bryce Salvador clean his clock and then watch from the box as the Rangers put away the game and probably the series? Not to open up a can of worms about the place of fighting in hockey, but this is one of the occasions where if the NHL doesn't step in and address it like they did, it would have been someone's job to regulate on behalf of Brodeur. Where's Krystof Oliwa when you need him?

posted by tahoemoj at 02:48 PM on April 16

What's more effective than a goal? I agree that Avery wasn't doing the "hey, hey, look at me" at the time of the goal, but he was probably in Brodeur's head. On that last rush before the goal, I was expecting Avery to do it again, maybe so was Brodeur. If the Rangers had scored when another Ranger took a shot that Brodeur did not pick up because of Avery's antics, I would say that the ploy was effective. When the play was broken up and Avery scored later in his shift, I think it's a jump to suggest that his antics resulted in the goal. Sure, he could have been in Brodeur's head, but Brodeur is an experienced goaltender and I doubt he rattles that easily. The more likely explanation is that Rangers scored because they had a 5 on 3.

posted by holden at 03:08 PM on April 16

That was amusing. Though one of those things that I guess has never happened before due to common courtesy. Like in soccer, I don't think there is a rule that states a team can line up all 11 players in front of the goal. Now think about a team that has managed to snag a hard fought lead. They could all just stand there and it's game over.

posted by Drood at 03:17 PM on April 16

If the Rangers had scored when another Ranger took a shot that Brodeur did not pick up because of Avery's antics, I would say that the ploy was effective. That part made me laugh, how many shots did the Rangers shoot wide while Avery was "dancing" around. I think it's a jump to suggest that his antics resulted in the goal. Maybe, but Brodeur is quoted as saying: "I've played for 15 years in this league. I've been watching games for 33 years. I had never seen that in my life," and Brodeur did give him a shot prior to the goal rush. Which tells me he might have been looking for Avery on the rush and maybe was looking to give him another whack. The more likely explanation is that Rangers scored because they had a 5 on 3. That's probably true, I'm 50-50 on this one. While Brodeur is an outstanding goalie and wouldn't get rattled by the everyday life of the NHL, who knows how he would react to something he's never seen before.

posted by BoKnows at 03:55 PM on April 16

Like in soccer, I don't think there is a rule that states a team can line up all 11 players in front of the goal. Now think about a team that has managed to snag a hard fought lead. They could all just stand there and it's game over. Unless they are all "Ho-ho-ho! Green Giant!" tall and "Yukozuna" fat, it's pretty easy to score on 11 players standing in front of a soccer net.

posted by grum@work at 03:56 PM on April 16

To be high-sticked, you have to be hit. I'm glad the NHL had the good sense to act on it immediately and maintain the integrity of the game. You're right. I would have thought that a threatening motion with the stick while it is above the shoulders would have qualified, but the rule definitely specifies contact. Surely there must be a rule in the NHL books to stop a player from skating up to an opposing player and swinging his stick at him without making contact.

posted by grum@work at 04:01 PM on April 16

If the Rangers had scored when another Ranger took a shot that Brodeur did not pick up because of Avery's antics, I would say that the ploy was effective. I'm not sure that the goal would've counted. I've seen goals get waved off because the ref saw that a player interefered with the goalie's ability to make a play to stop the puck. I don't think that Avery was giving Brodeur the chance to play a puck. I don't see how anybody couldn't help but watch Avery's stick, held high in the air, waving around. We've seen what a stick weilded like that can do to another player (McSorley on Brashear anyone?). Besides, how was that NOT unsportsmanlike conduct? Rule 41g reads: A misconduct penalty shall be imposed on any player who persists in any course of conduct (including threatening or abusive language or gestures or similar actions) designed to incite an opponent into incurring a penalty.

posted by NoMich at 04:03 PM on April 16

What a bush league act. It's called face guarding in other sports and should be banned from hockey,too. It's what children do in sports when they don't know how to play the game. When Avery's stick came up, Brodeur should have shoved his stick down Avery's throat 'til it came right out his ass. When I was playing, if Brodeur had tried that trick, 5 guys, the goalie, and half the guys on the bench would have beat the shit out of him. I don't think I've ever seen a more chicken-shit act in any sport.

posted by Shotput at 04:39 PM on April 16

Besides, how was that NOT unsportsmanlike conduct? Rule 41g reads: A misconduct penalty shall be imposed on any player who persists in any course of conduct (including threatening or abusive language or gestures or similar actions) designed to incite an opponent into incurring a penalty. You answered your own question. The rule is conduct designed to incite an opponent into a penalty. Avery was trying to distract and shield him, he was never expressly intending to incite a violent response.

posted by Chargdres at 04:44 PM on April 16

You answered your own question. Talk about closing the barn door after the horses are gone. So if Brodeur had popped him and been penalized, then Avery's action becomes inciteful and he get's penalized, too? I don't think it would have worked that way. Brodeur would have been gone and Avery would play on. Avery's actions were definitely worthy of a penalty and more.

posted by Shotput at 04:59 PM on April 16

Avery's actions were definitely worthy of a penalty... I think alot of people have the same thoughts as you, Shotput, but the NHL created a new rule to prevent this from happening again. So there was no penalty to call on Avery. ...And more? What do you think that should be?

posted by BoKnows at 05:08 PM on April 16

Most of the time, I can look at agitators and think, "I hate that guy, but I'd sure love to have him on my team." With Sean Avery, I'd rather shit in my best Blues hat. He's an unmitigated (well, with the new rule, perhaps he has been mitigated a bit) douchebag. Notice I don't say he's an idiot or a moron -- because he's clearly not that. Avery is calculating and conniving. I wish Scott Stevens had still been around -- Avery would have gotten a nice composite enema.

posted by wfrazerjr at 05:09 PM on April 16

What do you think that should be? I think somebody on the Devils should have stood up for their goalie and cleaned Avery's clock.

posted by Shotput at 05:32 PM on April 16

Give it up on Avery, boys. I laughed my ass off, and when saw tape, was in a pissy mood. Let's hear it for instigators and punk asses! In hockey, other sports or in life. Hip, hip, hooray!

posted by giveuptheghost at 05:42 PM on April 16

Let's hear it for instigators and punk asses Send me your address, I'll come over and spray paint a nice Devils logo on your car, house, and dog if you have one. Then lets hear it for punk asses! There's a reason there isn't a single player in the league, including the Rangers, standing up for Avery's actions.

posted by tahoemoj at 06:38 PM on April 16

Send me your address, I'll come over and spray paint a nice Devils logo on your car, house, and dog if you have one. Why so serious, I though was funny. Most of you guys are ready to have the guy drawn and quartered. Punk asses are in the eye of the beholder. If you never done a punk ass thing in your life, you know- stones and glass houses. Well, your welcome to come over and try to paint whatever, however that's illegal (Avery actions was not at time), and may land you in jail or the hospital, depending on my mood. So lets tone down the painting rhetoric, shall we.

posted by giveuptheghost at 07:06 PM on April 16

The more I see Avery's stunt, the funnier it gets. He looks like a mime pretending to be a reflection in the mirror. I know it was cheap, but good lord that was hilarious.

posted by rcade at 07:19 PM on April 16

Was it just me or did the "I Love Lucy" episode with Groucho Marx and the mirror come to mind?

posted by hawkguy at 07:25 PM on April 16

I agree that Avery's stunt was funny. But wouldn't you just have to expect to get a REAL good check next time you were skating with your head down? Or maybe have to pick up your teeth on the way back to the bench? Bring in: THE CRUSHER

posted by THX-1138 at 07:33 PM on April 16

the painting rhetoric Just trying to call your loving embrace of the punks of the world into question, not making a threat there, turbo. Thought you might not like it when you're on the receiving end of the actions of a punk. In hockey, other sports or in life so, go ahead and giveupthetoughguyact, I just disagree with you as to the value of instigators and punk asses. And please don't come over the internets and beat me up, even if you're not in a good enough mood to send me to jail.

posted by tahoemoj at 07:38 PM on April 16

Not to nitpick, hawkguy, but it was Harpo, not Groucho.

posted by TheQatarian at 07:49 PM on April 16

Sorry, that's a liitle before me. But I saw it in syndication and thought it was brilliant.

posted by hawkguy at 08:29 PM on April 16

And please don't come over the internets and beat me up, even if you're not in a good enough mood to send me to jail. Not to fond of punks that paint my property (your example, not mine). I'll not belabor the point about punks, however though if was funny, and we need more characters in life to sustain us from the super critical spray painters of the world. Your opinion counts, but like I always say, to each his own.

posted by giveuptheghost at 08:29 PM on April 16

I'll end my end of it like this. Characters are welcome in life. The world is made great by differences in people, even those whose actions sometimes surprise or annoy us. There is a huge difference between a "character" and "instigators and punk asses! In hockey, other sports or in life." Your choice of words, not mine. What I was doing was providing an example of what the actions of a typical "punk ass" might be. That would be in life, not in hockey. Where you claimed to cheer these people in your troll, er, post, you really seemed to take offence when provided with a real world example. I am not a spray painter of the world, however I would categorize myself as one who is super critical of poorly thought out blanket statements that laud the actions of people whose sole aim in life is to thumb their nose at the things for which many of us carry respect.

posted by tahoemoj at 08:57 PM on April 16

grum: "Unless they are all "Ho-ho-ho! Green Giant!" tall and "Yukozuna" fat, it's pretty easy to score on 11 players standing in front of a soccer net." You are wrong. I have seen it done. We did it at school.

posted by Drood at 09:48 PM on April 16

I think what Avery did was bush league and dangerous. Its like that episode of the Simpsons when Homer starts chomping and walking towards and pie and says "Pie I am just going to keep doing this (chomp, chomp) and if you get in my its your own fault" Anyone could have easily been clipped by Avery especially when he was just facing Brodeur and swinging his stick back and forth. He was staring straight ahead and if a defender came up on the side of him he could have easily been whacked in the grill with some lumber. Grum, I agree with a lot what you say regarding D-men clearing traffic in front of the net but I think besides jockeying for position there should be little contact until the puck is in the vicinity. Otherwise you could get some crazy obstruction/interference going on.

posted by HATER 187 at 11:24 PM on April 16

You are wrong. I have seen it done. We did it at school. Grade school? Professional soccer players are skilled enough to easily score into a net with all eleven players standing on the goal line. A soccer net is a hair over 24 feet wide. A soccer ball is a hair under 9 inches wide. Let's assume that the players space themselves evenly across the line in a way to maximize coverage. They also make sure that there is only 6 inches between them (so the ball can't slip through if it compresses, or jostles the player to the side with the force of the kick). That's 12 spaces of 6 inches (between players or players and the posts), or 4 feet in total. The remaining 20 feet needs to be filled by the actual body widths of the players. For all 11 players to fill the net, they would need to be about 21.8 inches wide. Remember, that's not waist size (which is circumference), but distance across the front of the player. If we assume that shoulders are wider than hips, and that legs can be moved quick enough to block any low shots (a spurious assumption, at best), then the only problem arises with shots at/around the hips/stomach area. Those would have to be pretty wide players. Now, let's talk about height. A soccer net is 8 feet high. As mentioned before, the ball is only about 9 inches wide/tall. That leaves 7 feet, 3 inches for a player to cover. Even if you assume a pretty good standing leap, I find it hard to believe that all players would be able to react in time and plant their face in front of the shot above their normal standing position. Especially considering that these 11 noggins have to cover an area 24 feet wide above them, and those heads are pretty damn small in comparison. Finally, if it really was possible to stand and entire team on the goal line and defend against any/all attackers, don't you think you would have seen some team even ATTEMPT that strategy in a professional game?

posted by grum@work at 01:28 AM on April 17

Nevermind that they would also have to absorb the punishment of all of the shots fired at them that they blocked.

posted by bender at 08:13 AM on April 17

I think what Avery did was bush league and dangerous. To him! He could've taken a puck off the back of his neck. It may be the stupidest strategy employed in a professional sport since A-Rod tried the old grab-the-glove trick in the playoffs a few years ago.

posted by rcade at 08:48 AM on April 17

It may be the stupidest strategy employed in a professional sport since A-Rod tried the old grab-the-glove trick in the playoffs a few years ago. ARod's play wasn't that stupid. For a brief time, he got away with it as the first base umpire didn't notice the skullduggery and called him safe (which allowed Jeter to advance an extra base). ARod would have gotten away with it if it wasn't for those pesky other umpires!

posted by grum@work at 11:01 AM on April 17

Sean Avery is a tool. See him try to do that next round with Hal Gill on Defense. The USS Gill will make sure that rule is enforced.

posted by Debo270 at 12:33 PM on April 17

laud the actions of people whose sole aim in life is to thumb their nose at the things for which many of us carry respect. You took me to task for my opinion based on my observations and moral compass. Like I said ''To each their own" , not my quote. Unlike you, I didn't give a example of a punk ass-why you may ask. Punk ass is in the eye of the beholder. You call Avery antics punk ass, and I don't. Express an opinion that you didn't agree with, OK, fine. May I suggest using another example based on intellect and not vandalism. Disagree with me is fine. Illegal activity is not.

posted by giveuptheghost at 03:28 PM on April 17

Brodeur did give him a shot prior to the goal rush. Which tells me he might have been looking for Avery on the rush and maybe was looking to give him another whack. See, I was thinking something completely different, as in, Brodeur had already written him off as an offensive threat, thinking Avery was just going to do his organ-grinder monkey dance again.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 02:30 PM on April 19

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