In spite of the fact that he has been out of the National Hockey League for several years now, the mere mention of the name Sean Avery still provokes a knee jerk reaction in the minds of many hockey fans and for good reason. During his team in the league Avery earned a reputation as one of the league's most notorious agitators and he did so in an era of the game that I believe many modern NHL players would struggle to be successful in. In spite of there being a number of players who played a similar role Avery stood above the rest, both for his willingness to push the boundaries of the rules and for his willingness to break them both on and off the ice. It makes sense that Avery remains so infamous however, it's not every day that a player forces the league to implement a new rule in the middle of a playoff series by his actions alone.
Avery has always embraced his notoriety though and frankly in my opinion I believe he even revels in it. But during a recent podcast with New Jersey Devils star defenseman P.K. Subban the brash and often boisterous Avery admitted that there was one aspect of his reputation that he is not pleased with. Avery told Subban that he has never liked the fact that he was characterized as a "dirty player" and objected to that notion during the podcast adding that he wasn't in the business of hunting or hurting the opposition.
Avery was asked by Subban what part of his reputation he disliked the most, and this is how he responded:
"I think that I was a dirty player on the ice... I never got suspended for an on-ice infraction," said Avery. "I never got suspended for hitting a guy from behind or running a guy or blindsiding a guy. I was dirty, but I was almost dirty to your face."
Avery double down on this notion by saying:
"You always knew where the chaos was coming from, I wasn't a cheap shot artist."
He even drew some comparisons to some hits we saw recently in the playoffs, most notably a late hit delivered by Boston Bruin Nick Ritchie to an unsuspecting Yanni Gourde of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
"That hit the other night with Ritchie on Boston... I didn't hit guys like that I would time it better. I knew I had a short leash on the ice."
Avery did go on to admit that perhaps his own personal bias is playing a role in his belief that he was not a dirty player, but also argued that he believes his career stats suggest he wasn't dirty.
"I think that is a big misconception that I was a dirty player. Maybe I am living in a delusional world but I think the stats show I wasn't a dirty player. I was mean and nasty and I took some liberties but I wasn't a dirty player."
Is every looking at the past through rose tinted goggles? Is there something to his comments here? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.