Taunter not smirking now

ERIC FRANCIS, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:36 AM ET

A source close to Sean Avery said yesterday what we've known all along about the embattled mouthpiece: He's stunned.

Not just in general, but stunned his calculated jab at Dion Phaneuf, Elisha Cuthbert and others garnered such a heavy-handed response from the league.

After all, he was only "having a little fun."

Just as disgusted former teammate Craig Conroy suggested, Avery confirmed to the source he was just trying to spice up a game and a league he figures is so sorely lacking in intrigue. He knew the fans and players would be fueled by it, but he underestimated the league's ongoing disgust with him.

Well, Mr. Marketing Genius, have lots of fun and excitement at Gary's place in New York today when you're bound to be handed a little more time to think about just how inflammatory your wording was.

It might be a great opportunity to touch base with some former girlfriends in Manhattan. I'm sure they would be thrilled to speak with him again, following the misogynistic comment the sports world has now heard endlessly.

How long he'll have away from the game is anyone's guess as the league is sailing into uncharted waters here by coming down hard on comments that were just plain wrong.

Dissect it any way you want, his juvenile schoolyard taunt brings him, his team, the league and the sport into disrepute and it was quite simply the right thing for the NHL to do by cooling his jets for awhile.

And no, for those wondering, had Avery said what he said but injected the words "former girlfriends" instead of "sloppy seconds," we wouldn't be having this discussion.

He wouldn't have been suspended, he would've played last night and the world would be an even better place as the taunt would've landed him a black eye and few lost teeth if there's justice in this world.

But dragging hockey fans through the mud by using such petty language is what tipped the scales and gave the NHL a window of opportunity to act.

And while those who heard or read the slur can admit they were shocked at how pointed, reckless and hurtful it was, seeing his smirk on video makes it clear just how vicious the unprovoked attack was -- especially given it was he who summoned us, the gathered media, to deliver what he thought was a knockout blow. Turns out he's the one sitting on the canvas now, trying to figure out what happens next.

While my initial thought was that this warranted a 20-game suspension, the length is certain to be no more than a quarter of that as it's hard to equate what he did to a vicious two-hander to the teeth in the heat of the battle.

It's what happens afterwards that is the most intriguing for those of us hoping for nothing but the worst for hockey's A-list degenerate.

Make no mistake, none of this would've been such big news had the culprit leaked the words via a print reporter or if his name wasn't Sean Avery. However, by snubbing his nose at opponents, the league and the traditions of hockey for years, the NHL has tried in vain to pin the nail on this donkey.

They've finally got him right where they want him and while the suspension handed down today will likely cause eyes to roll, the damage Avery has done will simply not permit him to return to Dallas.

Given his attitude and unquenchable thirst to be hockey's Eddie Haskell, it's clear the self-absorbed villain is not capable of offering the classy team he's helped decimate a heartfelt apology followed by a promise to make good on a second chance.

Co-GM Brett Hull, who was shocked and disgusted by Avery's act Tuesday in Calgary, won't be able to trade Avery and his four-year, $15.5 million deal. Further, he has no AHL affiliate to poison via an Avery demotion, making a buyout the best option. The only option.

Then, and perhaps only then, will Avery finally realize just how egregious an error in judgment he made when he stood in front of the crowd and tried to be funny.

Ha-ha Avery, the joke is on you.

ERIC.FRANCIS@SUNMEDIA.CA


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