Avery draws sought-after spotlight

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:50 AM ET

Keeping quiet yesterday about whatever action he is planning, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was unknowingly providing the mouthy Sean Avery an example of how to conduct himself.

Think before you speak.

In Avery's case, that's the problem -- he plans every incendiary comment that comes out of his mouth.

Sure to land on his feet when his playing days are over as a controversial talk-show jockey or Hollywood show host, the sad reality is he won't have to for some time.

A decision is expected from the commish this morning after Avery's latest indiscretion Tuesday in Calgary -- alluding to his ex, Elisha Cuthbert, current girlfriend of Flames defenceman Dion Phaneuf, as his "sloppy seconds" -- led to an indefinite suspension and a three-hour meeting yesterday.

But all those who believe the Dallas Stars winger is bound to be banned for life better recognize the upsetting truth: The NHL needs Sean Avery more than Sean Avery needs the NHL.

He's made his millions. He's built bridges to a hockey afterlife and hasn't yet burned them all.

On the flip side, even Americans in states that aren't known for their hockey knowledge are talking about Avery's latest infraction.

His misogynistic comment has made its way across every platform of media, on entertainment shows, news programs and every sports network.

It's negative in nature, but anyone who's ever owned a puppy knows that bad behaviour garners as much, or more, attention as any good deed.

A repeat offender of good taste, if not league rules, you can't teach Avery, a self-professed marketing genius, a lesson.

Each minute of air time, every inch of newsprint and all the round-table radio talk dedicated to his latest antic justifies his action.

Ironically, bringing attention to the NHL by being its greatest villain isn't Avery's grand scheme, as he suggested when taking a verbal shot at a "boring" Jarome Iginla last month while bashing the league's direction.

He's selling himself. Building his name as a brand of bad behaviour. The fact his actions often bring the league more of the spotlight is a bit of a bonus.

If Avery wanted to make the game against the Flames more exciting, he would have saved his ex-girlfriend bashing for on-ice trash talk.

Everyone, Phaneuf included, had to be expecting something along those lines. The wording might have -- let's face it, would have -- been even more harsh on the ice and drawn a stronger reaction from the Flames than the off-ice jab did.

That would have been acceptable to many who are offended -- maybe even to his Stars teammates, who have already washed their hands of the pest.

The organization that owns his rights for the next four years will be less likely to forgive than the league. His selfishness proves he's not a team player.

Despite the slap-on-the-wrist punishment that is handed out by Bettman, there's a good chance Avery won't play for the Stars again this season.

But he will play again.

Some teams in the league, like puppies, are just that starved for attention.


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