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Posts tagged: Sean Avery

Building the right way, in more than one way

It is clear that over the last few seasons Glen Sather, John Tortorella, and the organisation have stuck to a plan for the future. They have built from within, they have built from the back end out, and they have stuck with youth (for the most part) even in difficult times.

What may be overseen in the impressive and promising rebuild, is the fact that the Rangers have not only drafted well, but have also built to suit a game plan that highlights the physical nature of the Rangers’ squad for the present and the future.

Dare I say it, while Ryan Callahan plays the right way; he is not actually built the ‘right way’. However, looking at the potential roster, you may be surprised to see the Rangers are a very big and physically imposing side, at least on paper.

Tortorella likes to dump and chase, likes his side to play a game that requires a relentless forecheck, high levels of effort, and good play along the boards and in the corners. The Rangers physically, are well designed for this.

Looking purely at the five defenseman on the current roster, not a single one is listed at less than 6’1 or 203 lbs. Looking at the forwards, only Callahan and Sean Avery are listed under 6 feet tall, while only five forwards are listed under 200 lbs – this includes Avery, Callahan, and Brandon Prust. None of that trio will ever be considered ‘soft’ players.

Even looking among the prospects, there are many that boast a good physical presence. Whether it be Fogarty at 6’2, Kreider at 6’3 217lbs, or Yogan and Wilson at 6’3 and 6’2 respectively. There is plenty more size on the way through the system at forward. Indeed, guys like Hagelin and Zuccarello are rarities coming in at under 6 ft.

It gets even more pronounced on the defensive side. Tim Erixon is a big body, Dylan Mcilrath is physically a beast at 6’5, and Pavel Valentenko at 6’2 225lbs, has the physical side to go with his aggressive demeanour. In fact the defense is going to be big for a long time to come. Not a single defensive prospect under 26 (and there are 15 listed ‘in the system’) comes in under 6’ft.

The Rangers – at least on paper – are built the right way, in more than one way. They have had a concept in place and drafted to a plan. This is yet more evidence that the Rangers are doing things efficiently these days.

Potential Bounceback Years

If you’ve been a fan of this blog for a while, we tend to be optimistic realists.  Following up on my post yesterday regarding potential sophomore slumps, let’s put a more positive spin on the season outlook.  There are a few players that come to mind when it comes to disappointing 2010-2011 seasons, I’m sure you can think of three without even blinking.  The good thing about disappointing seasons is that it leaves the opportunity for fans to be pleasantly surprised if the player in question comes back with a strong year.

The most glaring of the disappointing 2010-2011 seasons is that of Michael Del Zotto.  After a good rookie year, defensive struggles aside, Del Zotto struggled mightily in his sophomore campaign.  He struggled so much that he was demoted to the AHL to work on his game, where he promptly was injured, and missed a good portion of the year.  Ridiculous “trade Del Zotto” rants came in at every angle (except here, we have our heads screwed on straight), so the expecations for him couldn’t be any lower.  Now, I’m not saying Del Zotto is going to have an All Star campaign, but it isn’t out of the realm of possibility to see him return to form offensively, while holding his own defensively.  Becoming the Rangers top scoring threat on the blue line isn’t difficult (Dan Girardi led the Rangers blue line with four goals and 31 points), so it isn’t all that unrealistic to hope he can bounce back.

Wojtek Wolski, who was acquired for Michal Rozsival in the middle of the year, is another player who started off strong but tailed off at the end.  With Wolski, it appears to be a matter of motivation.  I’m sure a contract year will help for Wolski.  That and potentially playing with Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik.  The last time Wolski was in a contract year he was traded to the Coyotes, where he put up a point per game, and another five in seven playoff games.  Money is a motivator.  Wolski could have the best year of his career, especially if he sticks with Richards/Gaborik.

Now comes the curious case of Sean Avery.  It’s tough to understand what exactly Avery brings to the lineup.  Before last season, Avery was a spark.  Last year, Avery seemed lost.  But again, money is a factor.  Avery is playing for another contract.  Last time he was in a contract year, he was one of the best players on the Rangers roster, providing that spark and some offensive flair (33 points in 57 games).  It seems Avery is learning where to toe the line, and if he’s given free reign, a return to the Avery of old could be in the mix.

As odd as it sounds, the Rangers might need bounce back years from at least two of these three players to be considered a legitimate playoff threat.  Depth is key, and while the Rangers appear to have a strong top-nine, an off year or an injury can throw a wrench into the whole season.  For one, I think Del Zotto’s bounce back year is the most critical to the Rangers success.  The bottom pairing on defense is a big question mark.  As for Wolski/Avery, let’s hope money is a motivator.

Sean Avery cleared in LAPD battery incident

So apparently Avery won’t be headed to the sin bin after all. Well, he may end up in this sin bin one day, but you know, not the real one …

Anyway, according to TMZ, police officers have since refuted the charges, instead revealing that the cop who filed the report simply got his foot caught in Avery’s front door while on the scene to address a noise complaint. And somehow the media spun that into him shoving a cop…nice!

What’s funny is that when all of this broke, I said that Avery probably closed his door on the cop’s hand or something stupid. You think I’ve had a few run-ins with the police before? Eh maybe…

Anyway, this is just another reason you should be reading Blue Seat Blogs and not your “traditional” sources of news media.

See what I did there? Shameless plug Becky, I know…

Guest Post by Sene: In The Spirit Of Youth…Why Not Get W(e)ise About Things?

I opened my email last night and received an email that intrigued me.  It was from a fan of the blog (Sene) who was just pitching a post (more of a rant) to me about Dale Weise.  This is a hot topic for Ranger fans, especially since the arrest of Sean Avery.  Without further ado, here is Sene’s post/rant:

The Rangers have been wiping the behind of Sean Avery for long enough.  With all the young talent that has been developed in the system and its recent success, why not give Dale Weise a (money saving) slot in sean Avery’s stead?

Weise would be more support than Avery for Mike Rupp and Brandon Prust in the brawler department. He would also most likely be a bit more tame and respectable, taking on a Prust like role. The reason for this line of thought: John Tortorella. We’ve all seen Tort’s famous multiple smacks to the back of Avery (and Dubinsky) after they made disappointing decisions that cost the team. Such smacks led to tears in both players eyes. Not anger.

This coach commands respect from the team and for the team. Young players tend to look up to individuals like Torts and want to impress them like a son would his father. These players have not made it rich yet by any means. They are working for contracts, not putting up subpar numbers for a high salary while interning for Vogue.

If Avery is unimpressed by Tortorellas tactics, that’s fine. The Cup count is at Torts:1 Avery: 0.  Look at what Torts did in Tampa with its core youth. John Tortorella was the cherry on Brad Richards ice cream sundae when making his decision on what team had whored themselves out enough to bring him to town. Tort’s bond with Richards was strong enough, that said player was fine promising him nine years of service. (Maybe six years and a buyout).

While not yet proven, who is to say Weise can’t be the 2010-2011 Bruins’ Milan Lucic for the 2011-2012 Blueshirts.  He has the both the physical size and the heart.

Lets finally admit that as nice as the idea may seems (Mr. Brooks) , it probably wouldn’t be Avery to spark a long term flame under Marian Gaborik’s behind. People in the press box need to come to grips with the fact that Avery is just an agitator; no more, no less. Give a kiss goodbye, would you? Give Weise a go. What’s his criminal record like anyway?

Sene can be reached via his Twitter, or his homepage.

Side note:  This got me thinking.  If you have any ideas you want to pitch to us as posts, definitely feel free to shoot us an email.  You don’t have to write a full on post if you aren’t comfortable, but anything you want to see us discuss is always welcomed. 

Ryan Bourque: A Ranger in 2011?

Amid all the players battling for a roster spot this September one player that could surprise Rangers fans might be Ryan Bourque but what do the Rangers have at their disposal in the Hall of Famer’s son? Bourque could be a great option for the bottom six given his brand of hockey and could be one to look out for.

Bourque’s style fits well with the way the Rangers played last season but he needs to stay healthy. When Bourque did play he contributed offensively grabbing 59 points in 49 games for the Remparts in the QMJHL last season.  However it’s the way he plays the game that could give Ray Bourque’s son a chance to break the roster straight away.

While guys like Christian Thomas are being (rightfully) touted as dark horses to crack the line up there doesn’t seem an ideal fit given the competition and an offensive player like Thomas needs top 6 minutes which doesn’t seem likely. Bourque however, can play a bottom six role, help establish a forecheck and provide a bit of offensive on occasion too.

Bourque may be a good option on Brian Boyle’s line if Tortorella decides to break up the Fedotenko –Boyle – Prust trio. Replacing Fedotenko with Bourque gives the line more speed, more offensive upside and in turn Boyle and Prust can help protect the smallish rookie winger. It seems a win-win scenario.  However, is Bourque ready for prime time hockey in his first season as a pro?

Every time Bourque has stepped up a level he has seemingly succeeded. Having played effectively for US U-18 squads, Bourque played two solid years as a Quebec Rempart. During that time Bourque played for the US WJC team twice where his role was more of a defensive one. He played effectively in a checking role playing a key role in helping the US team earn gold in 2010 proving he can adapt to a different role as well as handle elite competition.

Are there roster spots up for grabs? There may not be a spot to have, depending on how secure you think Sean Avery, Wojtek Wolski and Erik Christensen are on the current roster. If one or two of them can be outplayed then a rookie like Bourque can make it with a strong camp. Indeed, if Wolski and Christensen aren’t deemed worthy of top 6 spots then Bourque is a better fit on the lower lines anyway.

In recent times the Rangers have given chances to players if they have earned them. Mike Sauer forced the Rangers to keep him on the roster last season and Derek Stepan bypassed the minors thanks to an impressive display of skill and maturity. Starting in Traverse City where he’ll need to have a strong showing Bourque isn’t without hope to crack the Rangers line up and he’d be a good story to follow if he makes it.

Bettman Has The Final Call On Avery

If I was Sean Avery, I would be worried. I wouldn’t be worried so much about the fans reactions, any bad feelings likely ends the first time Sean hits someone into the boards. I wouldn’t worry so much about Glen’s reaction, the first time Sean feeds a teammate for an assist or scores a goal, likely furthers himself from being a roster casualty. And I definitely wouldn’t worry about Torts’ reaction, because if he had the power to get rid of Avery, it would have happened after the 2009 post-season…and numerous times thereafter.

No, the only person I would worry about is the reaction of Gary Bettman and company, since they treat Avery different than they do everybody else.

Sean plays under a different set of rules than the rest of NHL. Unfortunately for him, he also lives under a different code of ethics off the ice as well.  Almost three years ago, Bettman basically told Avery that he was living on his 9th live. Well is this the final straw? Nothing is certain, but you can bet that Sean will have to answer to NHL HQ before this thing is over.

If mouthing off has put Avery in the NHL doghouse before, then what exactly happens when he’s actually arrested? Any other player in the league likely gets a slap on the hand and is told, “here’s your lollipop kid, go home.” But Sean is different. Sean is despised at HQ, and the fact that fans still adore him, makes him even more despised.

To some people, this recent incident is easily forgettable, probably because people can relate. If you grew up in the suburbs, chances are you’ve had a least one party broken up by the police in your lifetime.

Of course, no one condones having an altercation with a police officer, but who knows how that really went down? Did Sean drunkenly fall into the police officer? Did he just slam his front door and accidentally catch the guy’s hand? Who knows? We don’t have the details, and TMZ isn’t a reliable source, even though Larry Brooks seems to think so.

While the fans may not lose a wink of sleep over this, since we are probably comparing this incident to Plaxico or Vick, Bettman likely is. And he could use this as an opportunity to make an example out of him. If I was Sean, I would be saying a prayer before that meeting…

Now before I open this up, I will say that I am not big Avery fan. To be frank, I think he’s overrated, and there are many other players that deserve to get the media’s attention before he does. However, that will never get in the way in what I think is just. Avery doesn’t deserve the pedestal the fans put him on, but he also doesn’t deserve irritable scrutiny by Gary Bettman either.

Does he deserve to get sh*t from Torts for taking bad penalties and for killing every rush by constantly being off-sides? You betcha. But does he deserve to play under a diffrent set of rules because he’s mouthy, or because he likes fashion, or because he stands up for causes that aren’t always symmetrical with blue-collar sports fans’ beliefs?

The answer is no. The answer should always be about hockey.

Last Chance Saloon for Avery?

Much is being discussed about the vacant penthouse suite in the Rangers neighbourhood. Of course, the vacant suite under discussion is in fact the left wing spot alongside resident elite forwards Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik. Many fans and even Rangers media (Stan Fischler for example) have touted Sean Avery as a good choice for the left wing spot. Is he a good choice?

Avery is entering into his final year as a Ranger and given the underwhelming recent performances (to put it mildly) from the ‘Grate one’ and his reputation as an ego driven, bottom six forward, many may not deem him suitable for such a sought after position as top line left wing. However, on closer inspection, maybe Avery is a legitimate candidate for a spot on the top line.

Avery’s game can make space for his line mates and he has certainly, repeatedly displayed his ability to command attention on the ice. Indeed, on the odd occasion (used very sparingly together), Marian Gaborik has previously benefitted from Avery’s presence on his line. Avery plays the corners, plays physical, and is good on the forecheck. He makes opposing defenseman want to knock his lights out. His style could lend itself to the Rangers top line. This is all without considering the chemistry Avery and his friend Brad Richards may have together. Don’t underestimate how a friendship could transfer to the ice.

There is also the issue of Avery being at the ‘last chance saloon’. There is a legitimate chance that if Avery cannot extend his stay in New York beyond this coming season then his NHL career could be over. His ‘stay’ in Dallas was a disaster, his stay in LA wasn’t a marriage made in heaven either, and he’s not well liked around the league – one hell of an understatement. If Avery gets released by the Rangers after this season he may not get another chance and if he did, the GM that takes him on will be staking his reputation on a very volatile personality.

Avery needs a productive year in New York this coming season if he wants to avoid applying for more Vogue internships sooner than intended. Avery needs to convince Coach Tortorella that he is worth more than 6, 7 minutes per game. Avery needs to find that infamous line again and play on the edge. Avery at his best can be a good fit on the top line, but will Tortorella give him the chance? It’s up to Avery to force him.

He doesn’t need to score 30 goals or 50+ points on the line to be successful there. He needs to contribute, but above all be a presence and provide Richards and Gaborik a platform to succeed. IF he gets a chance.

Avery has always had an affinity with New York and it seems like the only NHL location that can support everything Avery is, both on and off the ice. Avery needs to focus all his energy on his profession this summer. If he succeeds it would also be a win for the Rangers. An effective $1.9m (cap hit) top line winger? Every team would like such a bargain.

Avery panning out in the role also means the Rangers don’t have to look outside of the organisation thus saving them additional dollars and/or assets required to bring someone else in. Avery is most certainly in the last chance saloon and it’s in everyone’s interest that he finds his way out of there and back into hockey relevance.

Zuccarello Returned to CT; Avery Stays In Lineup

As per the AHL Transaction Log, the Rangers have returned Mats Zuccarello to the Connecticut Whale of the AHL.  This is no real surprise, as Zuccarello seemed overmatched in Game One, and was a healthy scratch in the following two games.  Zuccarello is best served seeing consistent ice time in the AHL playoffs.  This serves two purposes for the young, diminutive winger.  First, he will get consistent minutes, close to 15 minutes per game with the CT Whale playing on a top line and a powerplay unit.  Second, he will gain invaluable playoff experience as the Whale are in contention for the Calder Cup following a late surge this season.

Zuccarello’s demotion means that Sean Avery will stay in the lineup until further notice.  Avery, who was the healthy scratch for Game One, has earned his playing time in the playoffs thus far.  He has played disciplined hockey, while adding a physical edge to the Rangers that is missing with the Ryan Callahan injury.  Avery is one of the fastest Ranger skaters that can match up physically against the Caps, while playing that grind-it-out game that the Rangers need to play to remain in this series.  Avery will need to be the Avery that we know and love in order for the Rangers to stand a chance.

Expect Avery Back In Tomorrow

Last night’s game showed us two things. The first was that Washington is going to play a physical and defensive series, and the second is that Mats Zuccarello is not someone John Tortorella is going to turn to after the second period. In a game that lasted 78:24, Zuccarello received just 7:34 of ice time, and was the only Ranger skater with under ten minutes of ice time. Zuccarello looked lost, took a very stupid penalty, and just couldn’t compete with the physicality that the Capitals were bringing.

Zuccarello not seeing the ice in overtime is probably the most telling sign that he will be the one who will sit should there be a lineup change, which I am almost positive there will be. The Rangers cannot allow the Caps to be the more physical team in this series, as being a physical grinding team has been the Rangers calling card all season. Insert Sean Avery, who is probably one of the Rangers fastest skaters, but can play that physical game as well. Who knows, maybe he can remember how to agitate and get under someone like Alex Semin’s skin.

Regardless of Avery’s ability to agitate, it is very clear that he needs to be back in the lineup if just so that the Rangers can match the physical presence that the Caps have. These are not the same Caps that the Rangers manhandled twice. These Caps play defense, and these Caps hit hard. Avery’s skill set would match up nicely with the Caps, and I would have to assume he dresses for tomorrow’s Game Two.

Of course, how much time he gets on the ice is Tortorella’s decision. But to be fair, Avery will get more ice time the more effective he is. Time to let it all hang out Avery. Pretend Semin is Kovalchuk.

Drury, Zuccarello, Gilroy In; Avery, Eminger Out

As per Andrew Gross, Rangers captain Chris Drury will return to the lineup for the first time since having knee surgery on February 4th, a surgery that was expected to keep him out for the remainder of the season. Drury will take Sean Avery’s spot, who probably lost his spot when he failed to clear the zone in the second period Thursday night, resulting in the first Atlanta goal.

Also in today are Mats Zuccarello, who was recalled yesterday, and Matt Gilroy. Per Gross, Gilroy is in today because he presents more of an offensive threat than Eminger, and can move the puck out of the zone quicker.