SUN Hockey Pool

Avery vs. Tiger's caddie

TIM DAHLBERG

, Last Updated: 8:02 AM ET

Sean Avery is out of a job, at least for the time being, as he ponders the wisdom of saying nasty things about fellow hockey players who had the nerve to date his ex-girlfriends.

Steve Williams is still employed, though what he said about Phil Mickelson was just as bad.

Debate the wisdom of either opening his mouth all you want. What's more interesting is the reaction from two sports that used to have nothing in common besides Happy Gilmore.

POLITICALLY CORRECT

Hockey, which tolerates muggings on a nightly basis and has never felt the need to be politically correct, was so offended by a few words that Avery was sent packing after playing only 23 games of what was supposed to be a four-year stint with the Dallas Stars. When last heard from, he was at an undisclosed location undergoing treatment for anger management issues.

Golf, which regards itself as the ultimate gentleman's sport, has apparently left it up to Tiger Woods to decide the fate of his caddie. That's perhaps appropriate because Woods yields far more power in the sport than PGA commissioner Tim Finchem.

Not surprisingly, Woods didn't seem terribly distressed by his caddie's remarks, though he did release a statement calling them inappropriate. It's basically the same reaction he's had any time Williams causes a commotion - which the looper seems to do on a regular basis.

There's a difference, though, between throwing a $7,000 US camera into a pond at the skins game because your employer doesn't like pictures being snapped in his backswing, and calling the second biggest name in golf a name that won't be repeated here.

Just why Williams felt it necessary to unload on Mickelson isn't really clear, though his distaste for Lefty certainly is. It's an open secret on the PGA Tour that Woods and Mickelson aren't exactly dinner pals, but if Williams's comments are any indication, it runs deeper than that.

To Williams's credit, he didn't do a Terrell Owens and claim that he either didn't say what he said or that the media was simply making it up.

"I was simply honest and said they don't get along," Williams said. "I don't particularly like the guy myself. He pays me no respect at all and hence, I don't pay him any respect. It's no secret we don't get along, either."

The problem with that reasoning is that Williams seems confused about his role in a sport that has likely made him a millionaire several times over. He's been in Woods's reflected spotlight so long that he's forgotten that Woods is the talent and he's merely the hired help.

Save the jokes about Mickelson's physique for the caddie barn. Don't worry about your relationship with him because it's not your place to have one anyway.

'DEALT WITH'

Woods issued a statement Monday saying the entire matter had been discussed and "dealt with" - whatever that means.

Contrast that to the NHL, which wasted no time in handing Avery a six-game suspension.

Hard to imagine, but hockey finally got one right.

Don't hold your breath waiting for golf to do the same.

- Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press


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