|Sean Avery (QMI Agency files)
Sean Avery, who pushed the boundaries of bad behaviour in the NHL, now faces harsher discipline for allegedly shoving a Los Angeles policeman.
Avery was arrested and released on $20,000 bail Friday after a late-night incident at his Hollywood Hills home. LAPD officers who came to a house party at least once to deal with a noise complaint became embroiled in an argument with the New York Rangers' forward, who it's reported pushed one cop out of the way to get back inside, then slammed the door. When more police arrived, a more restrained Avery came out and was booked for battery of an officer.
The Rangers had no comment on Friday, until they can speak to Avery, though NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told QMI Agency via e-mail "we are looking at the situation."
The Pickering-born antagonist forward had been staying out of the spotlight the past couple of years after a series of volatile actions and caustic comments. He served a six-game suspension in the 2008-09 season while with the Dallas Stars for publicly slagging actress and ex-girlfriend Elisha Cuthbert, who had begun dating current Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf.
That led to his release by the Dallas Stars and his second stint with the Rangers. While with New York in the spring of 2008, his rabid actions in front of the net to distract New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur led to the 'Avery Rule'. But Avery has been more unconventional than uncouth in the ensuing years, interning at Vogue Magazine and becoming one of the few major pro athletes to speak out in favour of same-sex marriage.
His effectiveness as a player has been lessening, however, and his ice time has been dropping, to a career-low 11:14 last season. He is slated to make $1.9 million on the last year of his deal in 2011-12. He still has supporters on the club.
LEAFS-SENS HEATS UP
Tim Connolly, Cody Franson, John-Michael Liles, Phillipe Dupuis and eventually Matthew Lombardi will inject new life into the Battle of Ontario this year, while Ottawa will have a new man behind the bench in Paul MacLean. The rivalry badly needs some combustion after last year when both the Leafs and Sens missed the playoffs, for just the second time since Ottawa joined the league in 1992.
"(General manager) Bryan Murray decided to tear things down and start from scratch," said Sens' veteran Jason Spezza. "Sometimes you have to do that. If you look at the success some of the (recent Cup-winning teams) have had, you have to build your own players, have young guys coming up and you add later on.
"I don't think we're in the same position of some of those teams where you have to hit rock bottom. Hopefully last year was as bad as it gets for us. We still have some talented veterans and good young guys, that we can probably become a better team. I've talked to guys through the summer who are working hard. We know we have to get off to a good start and push the pace early to do well in our division."
Goalie Martin Biron says Gary Roberts deserves some recognition for raising fitness awareness among all young players.
"Look at Gary's career and it has always been about hard work and dedication," Biron said, while coaching at the Allstate-NHLPA bantam camp in Mississauga this week. "He made a name for himself, he was always in your face and I hated playing against him. If his team wasn't there (on game night), he was the guy to bring them up. Now he's doing that for a lot of young players.
"Look at the cutting edge stuff that he does off-ice, with nutrition and sports psychology. When you are 14 or 15, you don't know what a pro career is going to be like. Fifteen years ago, it wasn't like that (for kids)."
One of players in Saturday afternoon's culminating game of the camp at the Hershey Centre is 6-foot-3, 200-pound Aaron Ekblad, who was granted exceptional status to play in the OHL as a 15-year-old for Barrie.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports defenceman Carlo Colaiacovo is working hard on his stamina this summer in hopes of landing a regular gig with Alex Pietrangelo as the Blues' top pairing. The Blues are looking at Pietrangelo to play up to 25 minutes a night, where Colaiacovo has never been higher than the 17 to 18-minute range.
Alex Steen is under consideration for the vacant Blues' captaincy, but the favourite remains veteran Barret Jackman.
UFA defenceman Anton Stralman is getting offers from Swedish teams, but has not yet given up on signing in the NHL after Columbus cut him loose.
A deal for Leafs' defenceman Luke Schenn won't be wrapped up while he is in town for the Allstate camp. Agent Don Meehan said Friday that "discussions are ongoing"... An $850 million, three-year re-vamp of Madison Square Garden has begun, but will not affect the start of the Rangers' season. New seats and dressing room for the Rangers and basketball Knicks are planned ... A tip of the hat to capgeek.com., selling caps on their site with 64.3 and 48.3 on the front to represent the floor and ceiling of the league payroll ... Leaf first-round pick Tyler Biggs will be attending the Team USA junior development camp starting Saturday in Lake Placid, N.Y. ... Forward Patrick O'Sullivan has signed a one-year, two-way contract with Phoenix.