What is Sean Avery doing?
The 41-year-old former NHL forward announced on Wednesday that he will be joining the Orlando Solar Bears of the ECHL. He has been placed on the team’s reserve list to begin his stint in Florida, and there is no timetable for his debut with the team.
I’m not even sure where to begin with this. I brushed it off when I initially saw the news, but the more I thought about it and discussed it with others, the more the insanity of the move motivated me to write about it.
Let’s begin by noting that Avery has not played in the NHL since December of 2011 when he was with the New York Rangers. Following that season, he retired, meaning that it’s been nearly a whole decade since he last played professional hockey.
That fact is enough to make this seem like a joke, but then consider not only how Avery played the game, but also how his career came to an end.
Sean Avery is attempting an impossible comeback.
As a player in the NHL, Avery compiled 247 points over the course of his ten-year career. Clearly, that is not an inspiring offensive output, and it didn’t need to be, because Avery played a very different style of hockey.
He racked up 1,533 penalty minutes in his career, and he led the NHL in that category in consecutive seasons (2003-2004 and 2005-2006). He posted 518 total penalties minutes over the course of those two campaigns.
As for the end of his NHL tenure, Avery was demoted by the Rangers. He concluded the 2011-2012 season by playing seven games for the Connecticut Whale of the AHL.
So, it’s been years since he’s played, his role as an enforcer is becoming less relevant by the day in the NHL, and he ended his career with a demotion. I can’t imagine any of that making anyone feel optimistic about what his time with the Solar Bears could yield.
To make this whole situation seem crazier still, Avery’s goal is apparently to make an NHL comeback and play for the Tampa Bay Lightning (the Solar Bears are affiliated with the Bolts). It will be impossible to return to the NHL in general, but to want to play for the back-to-back Stanley Cup champions seems foolish.
It’s also worth noting that Avery created headaches as a player, namely in 2008 when he was hit with a six-game suspension for his controversial comments regarding an ex-girlfriend that was dating a different NHL player at that time. It was one of many controversial moments in his career, which also does not make him a likely candidate to earn an NHL roster spot next season.
The last point I’ll make is that he seemingly has had no involvement with hockey since retiring from the NHL. His post-hockey career has had nothing to do with the sport, so he is coming into this “comeback” completely cold in all ways possible.
Nothing about this is exciting or inspiring. Sean Avery may think he can make a comeback, but there is no way that it will come to fruition.