AnalysisState of the Rangers

Is it Time for the Media to Confront Tortorella?

A few different blogs in the Ranger universe have considered the ‘issue’ and beat writer Larry Brooks has recently been more than willing to openly discuss the potential issue. Sean Avery. We’ve written a lot about the ‘grate one’ here at Blueseatblogs, mainly about what Avery can bring to club and what role he should play for the Blueshirts but this season, despite several strong showings, Avery doesn’t seem to be getting the ice time his play has often (but in the spirit of fairness, not always) warranted.

It must be a topic worth discussing when the mainstream media are more than happy to discuss it. On Monday, in Brook’s article he makes a sarcastic comment about Avery’s status:

Gaborik could play with Erik Christensen and Sean Avery (until they’re inevitably benched)

The problem with this issue is in the old age of upsetting the apple cart. The Rangers are playing a pretty strong transition season, have created themselves an identity and have coped well with significant injuries all while the young players appear to be growing before the fans eyes. So do you mention a possible issue that could affect the team as well as the coaches (improved) relationship with the media? The answer needs to be yes. Avery – even at half the salary hit thanks to Dallas – is a cap anchor if he’s only going to be playing 8 minutes per game. Better yet, if he isn’t going to be given a fair chance to prosper his spot could/should be taken by a Dale Weise or Evgeny Grachev to learn on the fly for 10 minutes a game. Avery can be a liability but he can also be a key element in the team’s success as he has proven this year. Averaging just around 12 minutes a game he is second on the team in assists, impressive given his limited ice time. So, does Tortorella have a personal problem with Avery? Brooks also discussed Avery’s situation with yet more of his usual sarcasm the other day when discussing the recent shootout loss to Tampa.

Don’t want to make a big deal out of this, but would Sean Avery have gone before Martin Biron if Thursday’s shootout against Tampa Bay had gone deeper into the Garden night?

That comment speaks volumes to what is now being perceived by the media and not just Rangers fans. It may be time to ask Tortorella why Avery hasn’t been used more and it may be time to decide whether Avery stays with this team or not. Ridding this team of Avery and White sheds a significant amount of salary. One of these players isn’t needed but one of these players (guess which one) could certainly be used better. Is it time to find out?

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  • Sean is losing a numbers game.

    He’s a fan favorite, and presumably a media favorite as well, but everyone ahead of him in the lineup has played better. If he was a guy named Sean Smith, few would take issue with him losing a spot to Callahan and/or Prospal.

    • Smurf is correct.

      While avery does have talent for an agitator on a top team he is a third liner at best. Although he has good speed and passing ability he is not a great finisher.

      Before fans start griping about avery, they should ask themselves who exactly he is replacing – especially when prospal and callahan return.

      • I agree with the above, as valuable as Avery can be at times he isn’t going to surpass Dubi on the depth chart and Torts has cited numerous times how much he likes Fedotenko on the Boyle/Prust unit (which I agree with).

        Another consideration is that Frolov may be getting showcased to other teams as he certainly appears expendable at this point with MZA apparently ready to step in.

        And it’s not as if Avery is getting the Todd White or Prucha treatment it’s just that Torts is trying to find a way to make all the pieces fit – he continues to do this with Drury and will soon have to do this with Prospal and it’s actually a good problem to have.

        And lastly, when you look at the candidates for the 4th line LW position – out of Dubinsky, Frolov, Fedotenko, Prospal and Avery – the only player that really fits there is Sean Avery.

  • I think Torts is just clueless when it comes to Avery. I don’t think he hates him i just think he doesn’t know how to use him or who to play him with. I also agree that on a healthy and top team Sean is a third line guy but on this team he can play in a number of places. Personally, i don’t think he is a fit with EC. They have no chemistry. Sometimes a good chance comes from them but I don’t see that they read each other so well. Plus EC is soft and Sean is the only guy on the line who is willing to do the work necessary to keep the puck in deep which he is excellent at doing. I also didn’t think that Gaborik scoring a hatrick was such a bad result of putting Avery on his line and I don’t see that Gaborik is accomplishing so much more by not having Avery on his line. I would love to see them reunited maybe with Stepan at center. I don’t see why EC has to be attached to Sean’s hip and follow him wherever he goes. Regardless of weather he plays with Gaborik he should certainly be getting more ice time. No one can tell me that he can’t do just as much if not more then guys like Feds or Prust. Don’t get me wrong though, I think Prust has been awesome and i am in no way saying that he does not deserve his ice time because clearly he does. I am just comapring. We also have the Frolov problem. There’s ice for Sean right there. I can go on and on.

    • The difference between Frolov and Avery is that Frolov is a proven scorer, while Avery is a third liner. We as Ranger fans tend to overrate the fan favorites, like Avery. He’s a good role player, but as a third/fourth liner with no PP/PK time, 10 mins a game is about right.

  • I agree with Brooks. Avery hasn’t been great this year, but he’s been good in flashes when given significant ice time.

    It was really depressing watching that shootout because it made the Rangers seem as if they had no skill players capable of beating a goalie by themselves. Every player outside of EC, MZA & Boyle dogged their chances. At least you know Avery would have given it whatever he had out there.

  • Avery is a third liner at best skill wise. However, he is definitely a leader on the team and in the locker room. Him and Hank are the ones that called that players only meeting last year. Ten minutes a game is about right for a third liner with no PK/PP time.

  • Exactly whose minutes should be allocated to Avery? Prust, Boyle, and Fedetenko have all been very consistent, if not exceptional, on both ends of the ice. With the “few” minutes he has played this year, Avery has also gotten over 120 penalty minutes. He is a “flash in the pan” type player: he has moments of being very effective, yet is marginal over the course of a season.

    Wake up and smell the coffee: Avery is a fourth line player who is increasingly marginalized by other players with more upside.

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