Sean Avery: What A Chump!

Sean Avery, What A Chump

By N Oji Mzilikazi

September 30, 2011

New York Rangers forward Sean Avery is a notorious instigator both on and off the ice. His inappropriate and intemperate behaviour, actions, statements and infractions are well documented.

To get under the skin of Calgary defenceman Dion Phaneuf who was dating ex-girlfriend and actress Elisha Cuthbert, Avery gathered a group of reporters prior to a Dallas Stars vs. Calgary Flames December 2008 match, and lamented about NHL guys falling in love with his “sloppy seconds.”

In March 2008, Avery’s name and private cell phone number was found on Manhattan madam Kristin Davis client list. He was pegged as a $500 john of her Maison de L’Amour brothel.

It’s rather ironic, given that Avery isn’t gay (unless on the down-low), hockey is a contact sport rife with trash talking, and where even a “good hit” can be career-threatening, a ladies’ man like Avery would complain that Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds called him a “f—ing faggot.”

The alleged insult occurred during a verbal dust-up between the two on September 26, during the Flyers New York Rangers pre-season tilt at Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center. Simmonds denied using the slur.

While I am in total agreement that homophobia ought not to be aided or abetted, and homophobic slurs can no longer pass for acceptable on-field or on-ice behaviour or be tolerated, Simmonds alleged usage was not denigration of Avery or vilification of gays. It was as Avery knew, to get a rise out of him.

Avery has had great success in being a pest; in getting a rise out of others. He could’ve “taken the verbal hit like a man” and shrug it off. When questioned by the press, go into the “I didn’t hear clearly what he said” mode. Then, later on, privately reprimand Simmonds.

Explain to him that even without malicious intent such an attack is unacceptable, and outline the reasons. For good measure, release a statement condemning the continued use of homophobic slurs in the sporting arena.  It would’ve put all players in the National Hockey League (NHL) on notice.

Such would’ve made the alleged incident a teachable moment, and show that there is tact to Avery. Seems to me, his accidental thrust into gay rights advocacy after endorsing gay marriage this past May, went to his head.

In my book, his ratting Simmonds out further strengthens my belief that he is a first-class chump.

This is the same guy who during his days with Detroit Red Wings (1999 – 2003), called Edmonton Oilers winger and enforcer Georges Laraque a “f—ing slug,” while mic’d up for television cameras. (The clip is available online.) And who, years later, while playing for the Los Angeles Kings allegedly called Laraque “a monkey.”

Since simian invectives towards Blacks originated from racism, are emoted from the same, and are meant to personally disparage, Laraque make an official complaint. Unfortunately there were no witnesses to substantiate Laraque’s claim.

Avery was quoted by Los Angeles Times writer Chris Foster saying Laraque “fabricated the whole thing.”

In view of the fact that Laraque was a feared on-ice pugilist, it is inconceivable he’d lie about a racially offensive remark, knowing he could always encounter Avery on the boards or on open ice.

Although no official was willing to go on record saying they believed Laraque, Rangers coach John Tortorella was quoted saying though he did not hear what Simmonds said, he was “sure Sean Avery is not lying about it.”

I strongly suspect Avery’s decision was all about taking the shine off Simmonds.

Four days earlier, Simmonds was a victim of racism. Simmonds scored in the last minute of regulation play to send the exhibition game between the Flyers and Detroit Red Wings at John Labatt Centre in London, Ontario, into overtime. Then, when he was about to take a shootout, someone threw a banana on the ice.

The racist comparison and association of people of African descent to apes, gorillas and monkeys is responsible for the use of bananas as a racial insult.

While the Simmonds incident is the second recorded in the NHL, soccer has had a long history of white fans calling Black players monkeys, throwing bananas at them or on the pitch, and even unfurling banners showing a banana.

Rather than made a federal case out of it and tarnish the brand, Simmonds comments were terse. He said it was unfortunate. His focus was on playing hockey.

His willingness to move on positioned him as “one of the good guys.”

Avery’s revelation torpedoed that. The same people who applauded Simmonds for his stance over the banana asked for his head, especially after no punishment was meted out. Thanks to Avery, Wayne Simmonds had morphed into just another homophobic Black male.