The Dallas Stars reportedly placed Sean Avery on re-entry waivers Monday morning, giving the 29 other teams in the NHL an opportunity to pick him up for half price (Dallas will be responsible for half of Avery's contract). It's long been assumed that the New York Rangers will be Avery's eventual landing spot, allowing him to raise his particular brand of hell in the Atlantic Division once again.
It's worth pointing out that after Avery was given his ridiculous suspension for cracking a sex joke, John Tortorella, the current Rangers head coach, had some harsh words for the NHL's premier agitator.
"The league stepped up here and I think they did the right thing. Enough is enough. "He's embarrassed himself, he's embarrassed the organization, he's embarrassed the league and he's embarrassed his teammates, who have to look out for him. Send him home. He doesn't belong in the league."
It's important to keep in mind that Avery was suspended for making a sex joke. It's not like he shot himself in the leg, robbed a bank, or ran a dog-fighting ring. He told a dirty joke, folks.
You can debate Avery's presence in a locker room and how he can potentially disrupt team chemistry until the cows come home. Some players (Kings forward Dustin Brown, for example) will likely say Avery's on-ice production isn't worth his off-ice shenanigans. The Dallas Stars might agree. Some of the New York Rangers might beg to differ. He's certainly not the first locker room troublemaker to suit up in the NHL, and he definitely won't be the last.
The possibility of a tumultuous Avery-Tortorella relationship has already been discussed in recent days, while Rangers general manager Glen Sather doesn't seem all that concerned saying, "he doesn't have the history with Sean that we do. Over time you learn to love him, just like I do."
What if all of this becomes a pointless exercise on Tuesday afternoon? What if the anticipated Avery-to-New York reunion doesn't happen? What if a team behind the Rangers in the standings puts in a waiver claim? Maybe a team competing with the Rangers for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. How about the Pittsburgh Penguins?
1) The Penguins lack toughness. They've lacked toughness all season, and there are rumors flying around that Shero has contacted the Ottawa Senators about potentially bringing back Jarkko Ruutu. The Penguins have already acquired Chris Kunitz to add some grit up front, and they could certainly use some more.
2) Not only would the Penguins add some needed grit to their lineup, they would do so without giving up any assets in the form of draft picks or players. All they would have to do is sell their soul to the devil. As an added bonus, they would prevent the Rangers, a rival team, from seemingly getting better.
3)Sidney Crosby would be grateful because he would no longer be the most hated Penguin in opposing buildings.Cons
1) His presence in the locker room. Let's face it, it's a major, major question mark.
There's certainly some positives, but the negative is gigantic. Perhaps even a deal breaker.
Newsday's Steve Zipay mentioned in his February 12 article that there were rumors of the Penguins considering a waiver claim, while Sportsnet recently predicted several teams, including the Sabres, Predators and Penguins, as being potential landing spots.
I'm not saying the Penguins will claim Avery, and I'm certainly not saying they should claim him. I'm just pointing out there is some smoke around the idea, and that we shouldn't pencil his name into the Rangers lineup just yet.